I’ve had the pleasure of afternoon tea at the InterContinental, Westminster before, in fact a year ago, and a return invitation to sample the Edible Garden Free- Flowing Laurent-Perrier Afternon Tea meant I couldn’t resist – it really was that good – here’s the blog. Not only is the lounge a nice space to take tea, the Laurent Perrier is free-flowing and their Executive Pastry Chef is an absolute genius. My last visit was a Chelsea Flower Show inspired tea and this year an Edible Garden matched with delicate floral tea is on offer throughout the month of May. Easy to reach, the hotel is found on the Broadway exit of St James’s Park on the District & Circle Line and if you follow the zebra crossing you are right outside.
So the first thing you’ll want to know about the tea is if it’s worth the £44.00 price tag? With so many afternoon teas on offer in London it’s quite hard to sort the wheat from the chaff. There are plenty that offer you a fabulous experience but are an expensive let down. It’s only fair to say I write about the best ones – I just won’t waste my time, effort or words on the mediocre and I’ve experienced quite a few. Here at the IHC Westminster, you’ll get unlimited Laurent Perrier Brut Champagne and tea during the sitting time along with tasty and beautiful food, excellent service in pleasant surroundings, so I think it’s an absolute bargain.
Let’s do the afternoon tea maths. A glass of Hotel champagne £12.00, a sandwich £14.00 (along with a few crinkled crisps and a bit of salad, probably), dessert £10.00, what’s that so far, £36.00? Throw a cup of coffee or tea into the mix and you can add another £7.00 which brings your total to £43.00.
Each sitting is an hour and a half and if you wanted to quaff a bottle of champagne I’m sure they wouldn’t stop you – it certainly poured freely on my visit, a little too freely to be honest but I was having such fun maybe should have drunk more of my herbal tea!
The blackcurrant and hibiscus was certainly as refreshing as it suggested and whilst not a big fan of tea, this was an enjoyable cup.
Before you begin, it’s clearly explained how the menu’s been devised and in what order you should eat the food.
Beginning with the avocado and baby vegetable shot – I wasn’t too keen on the shot taste, which I scooped out with a small spoon, however, the pickled vegetables were delicious.
The garden pea and basil tart was absolutely fabulous, the sweetest pea cheese and egg mixture sat on the thinnest pastry base.
Whilst the Miniature Eggs Benedict was a mouthful of amazing. Soft white muffin had been gently toasted, cut out into a circle and topped with a disc of ham, hollandaise and a just-set quail egg.
The roast beef and horseradish was served on beetroot bread.
The second plate in the tier had a plate which held the Smoked chicken and a tarragon tear drop, Goat cheese and tomato with cheddar shortbread and the Smoked salmon roulade on rye bread sandwiches. The work that goes into each piece of finger food is quite impressive.
If you think that the offering is a little sparse, worry not as the wonderful staff move around often with the champagne and more sandwiches. Here’s Igor with a slate of savoury goodies.
The mini Chelsea buns were warm, as were the Lavender infused scones which both arrived with enough Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry-rose jam for a generous spoonful. The deliciously spiced buns worked very well with the lemon zesty curd.
They really have saved the best until last and when the Edible Garden arrives it’s absolutely breathtaking. Complete with its own glass conservatory, various delicious cakes are served on a chocolate and olive oil gravel, complete with chocolate pebbles and an array of beautiful ‘plants’.
The lemon box hedge was by far my favourite such beauty in a small package. The lightest lemon sponge, lemon mousse, sprayed with chocolate and I felt terribly guilty breaking the surface with a fork.
The Manjari Chocolate Pond was absolutely delicious, Valrhona dark chocolate with a slightly bitter taste was the main ingredient transformed into the prettiest pond-shaped cake, complete with water lilly and pond weed.
The Laurent-Perrier strawberry champagne bubble was too beautiful.
Here’s the crushed violet macaroon, along with a chocolate pebble.
I didn’t get to try the raspberry meringue because I was absolutely stuffed but I’m sure this picture speaks for itself.
The chocolate flower pots are again beautiful and filled with ganache.
If champagne isn’t your thing then there are floral cocktails – both alcoholic and non. The alcoholic pairing on offer are gin-based – two on the day I eat – the ‘Chelsea Flower’ has wild strawberry liqueur, rose syrup and fresh lime juice, topped off with soda a rose and a sprig of rosemary.
The ‘Best in Show’ was mixed with lychee juice, aloe vera, elderflower cordial and violette liqueur, topped off with edible pansy and mint. Both are £12.
This afternoon tea never fails to impress me, it just keeps getting better an absolute must if you get the opportunity.
These mouthfuls of brilliance are the work of Zoe Wager, the Hotel’s new Executive Pastry Chef, and I think she excelled the brief. Zoe, is there any chance that I can get the recipe for the lemon box hedge?
As an added bonus, the Hotel are running a competition to win a pair of tickets to RHS Chelsea Flower Show, a sold-out event. With a chance to win, book the Edible Garden Afternoon tea here for a chance to win.