Fancy china, delicate finger sandwiches, arguments about whether the cream or jam goes first on the scone, tiers of cakes, maybe even a cheeky glass of champagne. Is there anything quite as delightful as afternoon tea?
My friend Katie had been asking us to go to the Prêt-a-Portea Berkeley afternoon tea with her for years and eventually we caved in (such a hardship…). So one Saturday afternoon we put on our best frocks, met at Hyde Park Corner station and prepared ourselves for a decadent feast.
The Berkeley Afternoon Tea
The Prêt-a-Portea afternoon tea is inspired by, you guessed it, fashion. The menu is transformed every six months to follow the changing seasons in fashion and we were able to enjoy Autumn/Winter 2013.
Afternoon tea is served on this fine-bone china by Paul Smith for Thomas Goode. How pretty is it?! I love the bright colours and they really brighten up the tables in the Caramel room where tea is served.
The tea menu at the Berkeley was good. The choice isn’t huge but sometimes that’s a good thing as who really wants to spend fifteen minutes reading a list of teas? You can order as much tea as you want and you can change your tea from pot to pot. In the end I simply went for the Berkeley blend which was perfect, followed by a pot of fresh mint tea at the end.
After you’ve chosen your tea it’s time for the sandwiches. Between us we had a vegetarian, pescetarian and someone who is gluten free so our plates of sandwiches varied slightly but we all thought they were delicious. But to be on the safe side, we happily agreed to a second serving of sandwiches just to make sure.
Next we tried a selection of savoury treats. I’m not entirely sure what was what but it was nice. By this point we needed something sweet and really wanted to try the cakes…
Can you blame us? Talk about something that almost looks too good to eat.
First up, the Burberry Prorsum heart patterned ginger biscuit trench with caramel icing. It might be the closest I get to the real thing so I savoured every bite! It was nice but a bit more ginger would have been great.
This plate of cakes was the business. They looked too good to eat but that didn’t stop us. I did wonder whether it would be a case of design over substance but I needn’t had feared – these were some of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten. My favourite was the Giles antique gold chocolate feather set on a base of Sacher torte. Although the Saint Laurent essential Autumn red “Classic Duffle 6” Victoria sponge cake bag came in a close second.
Afternoon tea wasn’t quite perfect – we were missing our fifth spice girl! She’s off in California so we thought we’d let her know what she was missing out on. Anything to keep her away from kale smoothies.
Just when we couldn’t eat anymore the prettiest doggy bags turned up at our table. I’ve never treated a handbag so well in my life; getting those treats home safe and sound on the tube was a mission!
At £39 a head, Prêt-a-Portea at the Berkeley isn’t an everyday indulgence. It’s a lot of money for some tea and cakes but we spent a good three hours there chatting, having fun and eating some lovely food. It’s a special treat, an excuse to dress up and something to look forward to (you need to book months in advance).
We’re now thinking where to go next for afternoon tea later this year. I’m a big fan of The Modern Pantry but would like to try somewhere new – any suggestions?