Monday, 1 June 2015

afternoon tea at fortnum & mason, piccadilly, london.

Fortnum and Mason Afternoon Tea
Fortnum and Mason Afternoon Tea Review

Fortnum & Mason truly does exquisite afternoon tea. Think fluffy sandwiches, delicate patisseries and a plethora of tea blends to choose from. There's no doubt this will be a positive review, but couldn't wait to share this fantastic afternoon tea in London's famous F&M at 181. Piccadilly.

Fortnum and Mason Afternoon Tea Menu

Sat in The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, opened by HM The Queen, we were met with a daintily laid table with the recognisable turquoise green crockery and detailing. In the background, we heard the subtle tinkle of a live pianist playing classical melodies on a baby grand. I was wearing a floral tea dress and trying not to knock over any passing cake stands.

Unsurprisingly the tea salon list is rather impressive, with a grand total of 82 tea blends. From Russian Caravan to Classic Earl Grey and Chai to Moroccan Mint, take your pick from smoky, fruity, classic and contemporary.


The St James China teapot, cups and saucers are decorated with an 18th Century inspired scene, in a beautiful shade of teal with gold detailing. On this occasion I had a silver plated Art Deco style tea strainer to pour out our premium tea - I'd gone for the number 58 Countess Grey.

"A twist on the traditional bergamot infused blend, Countess Grey is based on well-twisted Orange Pekoe teas, lifted by classic bergamot and a light orange flavour. It has a light and delicate character."


This was a delightful tea, which as expected didn't stray far from a classic Earl Grey. I would said it seemed more delicate, yet had a stronger orange aroma. I loved it without milk, although enjoyed it even more with milk and sugar. Not how it should be, but how I like it.


Since it was a special occasion, we also enjoyed a chilled bottle of Blanc de Blancs Brut N.V, Hostomme (£52) to share between the four of us. 


It wasn't long before an assortment of elegant cakes, patisseries, scones and sandwiches were presented on a trio of turquoise plates. 

The Menu

Sandwiches
Fortnum’s Smoked Salmon with Caper & Lemon Dressing
Cucumber with Mint & Cream Cheese
Prawn & Gem LettuceMarie Rose Sauce
Rare Breed Hen Egg, Mustard Cress

SconesPlain & Fruit Scones
Presented with Somerset Clotted Cream & your choice of Fortnum & Mason Preserve:
Apricot, Lemon Curd, Raspberry, Strawberry, Wild Blueberry

Cakes
Individual P√Ętisserie
Selection from the Cake Carriage


 


So first, savoury. The birthday girl is pescatarian and if you read my little blog you'll know I love seafood and vegetarian choices too. This meant that we enjoyed cucumber, cream cheese and mint, without the chicken. Although I couldn't compare, I actually think this worked better than with any meat. It was a light and dainty sandwich on beautiful white bread. The egg mayonnaise went down particularly well, on a bouncy poppy seed bread with perfectly cut crusts.

The salmon and prawn cocktail choices were just as excellent, with great quality seafood and soft, squidgy bread. We were happily unsurprised at how delicious it all was.


And now, the sweet.


These were an apricot puff, rose eclair, passionfruit macaron, raspberry jelly slice and a dark chocolate and ginger tart. What a nightmare for me - I wouldn't ever order fruit desserts! Sadly I didn't really enjoy any of these (although I promise I had a bite of each) except the indulgent chocolate tart. The macaron was definitely the best of the fruity offerings. Without sounding too brash, it tasted exactly like a creamy and tropical Solero lolly, there's just no other way to describe it.


Luckily (or else why would I keep going back for my afternoon tea?) I love scones. Light, crumbly, buttery scones. These were just that. Dusted with icing sugar with a choice of plain or fruit, I layered up the clotted cream and strawberry jam. De-licious.

You're invited to have more savouries, cakes and scones as you please. In a sandwichy-cakey haze I'd forgotten about the cake display I could pick from. Now I really regret not having enough room for a slice of that battenburg. Apologies - not the best picture - I was mainly trying to take a photograph without sending someone's tea leaves flying.


Overall it was a lovely and unforgettable experience and maybe even the best afternoon tea I've had. 

On the other hand, a negative moment came about when we opted out of the discretionary service charge. At £40 a head, plus a £52 bottle of fizz, this was already indulgent, and we felt it was already a fair price for the service. When we didn't pay the £22 overall tip, things got a little awkward as we didn't really have a reason not to pay it, as such. 

The waitress (who hadn't actually been the same person who served us) looked hurt and asked for a reason why we had chose not to pay it. To save any upset, we all blushed and just paid it anyway. I guess just bear in mind that although this is Britain, they expect you to pay the (discretionary) charge. Factor in that the afternoon tea is actually £44, unless you want a cringeworthy exchange.

I don't like to end on a bad note, and urge anyone looking for a traditional afternoon in London to seek out F&Ms. It really was a fantastic experience, I just couldn't write an honest review without mentioning the service charge occurrence.

Have you ever been for afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason? Where is your favourite place for afternoon tea in London?

I also really loved afternoon tea at One Aldwych - if you're looking for something different.

6 comments:

  1. Emily this looks great. It's such a shame a lot of the sweet options didn't appeal to you. A rose eclair is my idea of a patisserie dream and it looked just perfect. I am thinking of visiting F&M for tea soon, so this review is very timely.

    With regards to the discretionary charge, I feel it's quite inappropriate that the serving staff asked you why you didn't pay it. When I've eaten at Fortnum & Mason (in the restaurant) I found the staff to be hugely accommodating. I cannot remember whether the tip was discretionary, but I think I paid it. I think that Fortnum & Mason would probably be a bit embarrassed to see that you were treated in this way.

    Glad you enjoyed it overall though.

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  2. I loved my afternoon tea at F&M, the blueberry jam became a firm favourite ever since that visit. Like you I really enjoyed the savoury over the sweet! It's a shame they were funny over the tip- I never pay the service charge, I'd prefer my tip to go straight to the server personally.

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  3. Ooh I would love to go to F&M for tea - how perfectly elegant. Tipping in Britain is so awkward, but they really shouldn't have asked for it. Like Miss Pond, we leave tips for the servers - it shouldn't be something that's just added to the bill.

    The best afternoon tea I ever had was at the Dorchester many many years ago. I've no idea what their teas are like these days.

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  4. A shame about the tip, but this is exactly as you described it the other week. I hear such muddled things about F&M but I really would still quite like to go at some point in the future.

    Plus it looks pretty. I'm a sucker for that.

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