My obsession with afternoon tea continues. Don’t tell anyone, but it was only in 2014 when I experienced my first ever afternoon tea (shock I know) and ever since then I just can’t get enough of this British past time. The idea of an afternoon tea or high tea, first came about in the 1800’s when a lady named Anna – The Duchess of Bedford, complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon. Anna wanted something simply to satisfy her afternoon hunger and see her through till dinner time.
It was supposedly from here onward that afternoon tea was born and saw it flourish during the 1880’s – becoming both an excuse to eat and dress up for the occasion. Afternoon tea is usually served around 3/4pm as a filler between lunch and dinner, where as high tea is served around 4/5pm and is meant to replace ones dinner. When it comes to historic, tradition and a true taste of the classic afternoon tea – London Marriot County Hall is the perfect choice. An impressive entrance and endless wooden cladded hallways make for a rather grand arrival to the Library Lounge.
A warm welcome, views across the river and the sweet smell of cake in the air. We took our seat and waited for our afternoon tea to arrive when a small amuse quickly appeared to the table. A creamy coconut panna cotta topped with pineapple. I’ve never been the biggest fan of panna cotta personally, but if they all tasted as good as this did I could easily be converted.
And then the full afternoon tea arrived and what a spread. Three delicious tiers packed with fresh sandwiches, decadent cakes, fluffy scones and preserves for spreading. One of my favourite parts was the free-flowing bubbles. They’re VERY generous here with the pouring and never did we have to ask for more.
First up for us to devour was the selection of finger sandwiches and savoury snacks. The classic ham, egg mayonnaise, excellent coronation chicken and creamy salmon on brioche roll. Better still was the warm quiche. Not particularly complex, but subtle, refined and very satisfying. A really solid offering and the sandwiches were re-filled after us showing interest in the lovely coronation chicken (yes it was that good). A little more seasoning wouldn’t have gone a miss overall, but a minor critique which most wouldn’t notice.
The bubbles were flowing nicely and so we made our way onto the middle tier of fluffy scones. Classic golden raisin scones were given a sugar-coated topping, while a savoury option of Lyburn cheese & basil made for an unusual and exciting addition. I also loved the accompaniments for spreading. Marriott County Hall Tiptree strawberry jam & clotted cream, as well as a creme fraiche & a sun-dried tomato spread for those delicious savoury scones.
We finished up on a selection of sweet treats and cakes. Rich and decadent salted caramel chocolate cups, strawberry meringue nests topped with strawberry cream, cherry hazelnut financiers with sweet Amarena cherries and my favourite – raspberry tart topped with creamy white chocolate. A really lovely selection and the portions sizes of each were just perfect.
We finished up with the last of our free-flowing bubbles before heading off for a lovely Autumn walk around the Southbank in the attempt of walking off all that cake and bubbly. If you’re also looking for a true taste of a classic afternoon tea with more bubbles than you can sip on and some of the best service in London then look no further than the Library Lounge. You’ll love every part of it just as much as we did.
NB: My meal was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.