Oh, how I love afternoon tea. A good proper afternoon tea. With the best sandwiches, soft scones and a fabulous selection of frivolous fancies to finish. Topped off with nothing but the best pot of tea and you have yourself a happy Kitty. A good - nay, great - afternoon tea is worth shouting about.
One such afternoon tea can be had at The Langham in London. We arrived separately, Mr Kitty, my little sister and myself, all having come from different places across London. I had been shopping (of course!), Mr Kitty spent his morning in bookshops in Charing Cross Road and my sister was hard at work. We were very much looking forward to the afternoon, especially with the news that The Langham had been awarded London's top afternoon tea for 2010 by the Tea Guild, no doubt an authority on such important matters.
Shaking off the raindrops from the changeable London weather, we all settled down to enjoy the experience. It was Mr Kitty's first afternoon tea in a hotel and he was eager to sample the delights.
The recently renovated Palm Court is almost reason enough to visit the Langham for tea - the flourishes and decorative effects really do hark back to an earlier era and the room is definitely redolent of a far away time - a time when afternoon tea was an absolute necessity in life, not just an occasional luxury. The silver roof is definitely a highlight of the room - with the Venetian mirrored paneling it did make me wonder how I could incorporate the effect in our renovations, much to Mr Kitty's dismay.
After we decided on the Wonderland Tea from a number of options and carefully selected our choice of tea from the extensive menu (black vanilla for me, the signature Langham blend for my sister and a long black for Mr Kitty who does not imbibe tea at all), our first "course" if you will, was described as a pre-dessert: a vanilla pannacotta with pineapple. Deliciously refreshing it was soft yet yielding to the spoon with just enough wobble to keep Goerge, Gary and Matt happy I would have thought.
Coming up next was a fabulous round of sandwiches. A veritable feast of choices, including corn and yellowfin tuna on wholemeal, cucumber and cream cheese on white, hens eggs and mustard cress on white, corn-fed chicken with tarragon on wholemeal and smoked Scottish salmon and horseradish on wholemeal. Neither my sister or I are big on smoked salmon so Mr Kitty scored a bit of a bonus.
The sandwiches were fresh, full of filling and generous on flavour. I struggle to think of an afternoon tea sandwich that beats it, the highlights for us being the chicken and tarragon and the egg and cress. Mr Kitty enjoyed the salmon too.
Our scone course was next and the scones were still warm. They were fluffy yet firm to the touch. We had a selection of fruit and plain scones topped off with Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry jam. Divine. My only complaint is that I tend to prefer raspberry jam but clearly that is a personal preference rather than a criticism.
The next course was a selection of fancies from the pastry kitchen. The chefs had been hard at work creating a fabulous orange carrot cake with violet frosting, a delicious strawberry eclair, an unsurpassed raspberry pistachio friand and a delicate shortbread lollipop. My favourite I have to admit was the friand - the simple flavours worked so well together abd the cake base was so light and delicate.
Finally - when we thought we could eat no more, a raspberry cupcake was offered. And I couldn't say no, despite the fact I was more full than I could ever remember being. I didn't regret it - it was one of the best cupcakes I have had in a very long time. The base was sweet and soft with a good crumb and the frosting was strong on sherbetty raspberry flavour. A great way to finish a fabulous afternoon tea.
Palm Court at The Langham
Afternoon tea priced from 37 pounds per person
1C Portland Place