I love picnics, sharing plates and buffets, food just always tastes so much better when you get to try lots of small different things. It’s no surprise then that I love afternoon tea with it’s tiny finger sandwiches and patisserie cakes. It’s like a picnic but without having to lug everything to the park and the worry of wasps forcing me to run panicked circles around the blanket.
As you’ll know if you’ve read my review earlier this year of The Grosvenor Hotel, for each other’s birthdays my best friend and I always take a day off work and go for a champagne afternoon tea. It’s become somewhat of a tradition and long may it continue because it’s one I love!
For my birthday this year, my friend found the perfect afternoon tea for me – the Chocolate Afternoon Tea at the Hilton, Park Lane which sounded like a dream. The lobby when you enter the Hilton is beautifully decorated with flowers and when we went, Christmas decorations too. It’s a huge space and sits conveniently opposite Hyde Park. I ended up being stuck on a delayed tube and turned up almost half hour late but the service staff were so lovely about it. I don’t drink tea (I know, worst Brit ever), so I always choose fresh orange juice to go with afternoon tea but my friend started with a chocolate and hazelnut tea which smelled incredible and apparently is their most popular tea, unsurprisingly.
First up they brought the sandwiches, a plate each of “open sandwich” style fancy bites along with our glass of champagne. The sandwich “fillings” on malted seed bread were smoked salmon with horseradish cream, cucumber, chive and cream cheese and prawn cocktail. On ciabatta type white bread there was a coronation chicken with pineapple and a ham and tomato chutney. I love the combination of little soft finger sandwiches and champagne and we quickly polished off our first plate. There was free refills of sandwiches which is always appreciated (unlike the last one I went to in Norfolk where they offered me refills and then snuck an extra £7.50 on the bill for the privilege at the end without us knowing). It was a nice touch that they let you swap any sandwiches you’re not keen on too, I always find cucumber sandwiches, traditional as they are, a bit of a non-event so I asked for two ham ones instead on my second plate as I loved the tomato chutney. All the sandwiches were made fresh and tasted great, no stale curled up corners here!
Next up they brought the main stand with the scones and cakes, and a separate plate with the cream and jams. I loved that one of the scones had chocolate chips in and that instead of two jams, you got one strawberry jam and one pot of chocolate praline spread. The combination of the freshly baked warm chocolate scone with the praline spread was divine, honestly I feel like any afternoon tea without praline spread will now be sub-par. The raisin and plain scones were equally light and fresh.
The cakes were amazing, all of them chocolate but all unique and beautifully crafted. There was a raspberry and dark chocolate parfait, a chocolate and orange macaron, a mandarin cake, a white chocolate and mint tart, a lemon meringue pot and a chocolate coffee puck (not sure exactly what a puck is but it tasted good).
On the top layer the two desserts were on what looked like a small plank of wood, but was actually a big thick slab of great quality chocolate (which I took home and ate that evening!). Here’s a close up:
Overall I was very impressed with this afternoon tea and although the “Podium” restaurant it’s served in could do with a bit of an update to match the grandness of the lobby and surroundings, the quality of the food and experience was up there with some of the best I’ve had. The service was efficient but without rushing us at all, and we took our time. The desserts all had a great individual flavour and everything we were served was fresh and beautifully plated. I would highly recommend.
Price: Usually £39 each but a quick Google told me that Buy a Gift have got a deal for £49 for two people which is brilliant value compared to a lot of the afternoon teas in London. I might actually have to go again… link here. (Not an affiliate or sponsored link, just think it’s a good deal).
Nearest Tube: Hyde Park Corner or Green Park