Ask a London foodie to name the most well-known afternoon tea in London and inevitably the response from many will be Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley Hotel. Not only is the fashion-inspired tea one of the most famous but it’s also one of the first that I tried! I managed to dig up a photo from 2007 to verify this…
My dear friend Binny had kindly invited me to be her plus one for tea, and we kicked off with a glass of Champagne Laurent-Perrier to celebrate. The tea is very special to Binny too as it was the first that her and her husband ever shared together. The Berkeley under went a refurbishment a few years ago, and the afternoon tea lounge is rather different to when we both first visited a few years ago. Served in the light and bright Collins Room, created by acclaimed designer Robert Angell, we are surrounded by huge floor to ceiling windows that allow the sunny London day to flood into the room.
A vanilla flavoured palate cleanser was a great way to get us ready for the treats that were to come…
A selection of beautifully prepared and presented savouries with a selection of finger sandwiches. A smoked dashi consomme is added to a delicious miso seared yellowfin tuna served with white asparagus, peas and gooseberry jelly. Cornish crab, tête de moine with pickled pearl onions, sea pursalane and lemon emulsion was delicious and light while smoked duck with shaved manchego, pineapple jam and horse radish is served on a brioche bun.
I know many people are in it for the sweets when it comes to afternoon tea, but I’m a sandwich girl so I love it when hotels go the extra mile. The finger sandwiches here are absolutely stuffed with filling, there’s definitely no stinging here! Juniper smoked salmon also comes with pickled veg, horseradish cream and watercress and is served on rye bread. Roast corn fed chicken is paired with spring onion and celery emulsion on onion bread.
Cucumber, garden sorrel, brown butter boursin cream on white bread is a twist on the classic whereas duck egg mayonnaise with mustard cress takes the humble egg sandwich to the next level. A vegetarian sandwich of grilled aubergine, piquillo peppers, olives, feta and hummus is served on tomato bread whilst my absolute favourite of the day was peppered pastrami, beef tomatoes, basil and cream cheese on granary bread.
Binny and I were lucky enough to meet Head Pastry Chef Mourad Khiat, who invented the tea and has kept it new and innovative for over ten years, changing with the times and fashions with inspiration taken directly from the catwalk. The tea has become so renowned the Mourad has legendary designers such as Jimmy Choo approaching him for collaborations.
I’m a big fan on the humble biscuit (what Brit doesn’t love one with their coffee or tea), and the tea includes two. The vanilla swimsuit biscuit comes straight from the Miu Miu catwalk and features a sunny yellow icing. The stylish stiletto is based on a Tom Ford design and includes hot pink icing on a chocolate biscuit base. One of my favourite desserts was the light as a feather Victoria sponge, fashioned into a handbag based on an Aruna Seth design. The cake includes red compote sandwiched between thin chocolate layers and is decorated with bright pink glaze and a signature diamond butterfly.
The Marilyn Monroe cake is unmistakably Versace. Psychadelic colours cover a mosaic joconde sponge topped with a rainbow meringue. Chef Mourad’s own favourite is one for chocoholics! Inspired by Erdem the Valrhona Caramelia mousse with hazelnut daquoise and salted caramel on a cocoa sable glazed with Gianduja mousse is sprinkled with gold flakes and topped with a red sugar bow. Dolce & Gabbana is one of my personal favourite designers and the show-stopping almond cake layered with apricot jelly, rhubarb confit and orange blossom cream topped with a chocolate Queen of Hearts, comes straight from their Spring / Summer 2018 collection.
Richard Quinn’s designs are loved by royalty and the upside down blackforest gateaux dress is a chocolate cone layered with chocolate and vanilla cream with cherries decorated with florescent flowers. The perfect accessory for every girl is the right pair of sunglasses, and these are inspired by Elie Saab. Made of chocolate and sitting on a tuille biscuit filled with raspberry cremeux and summer berry compote.
The final presentation is inspired by Ralph & Russo, a wafer cone filled with pineapple and kalamansi and topped with white peach ice cream on a baby pink chocolate frill.
There’s a good reason why the Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley Hotel is one of the most enduring in London. Not only is it beautiful, delicious and innovative but it’s always on trend and constantly updated to move with the times.
020 7235 6000
We were guests of The Berkeley.