Monday, 19 May 2014

Afternoon tea: Flemings Hotel


Over a month ago, I booked afternoon tea at Flemings Hotel in Mayfair – thanks to Emerald Street who had a number of 2-for-1 deals on their website, which meant we only paid £12.50 (plus service charge) for. Down Half Moon Street, it wasn’t until we were outside that I realised I had eaten at Tiger Green, the brasserie at the Hilton opposite.
I booked for 1:30pm, which for me is a good time. I’d much rather substitute lunch than turn up at 3pm and be totally full up before we even get started. Upon arrival, we were told to go down straight through the foyer and down the stairs where the waiting staff will take us to the table. We were the first couple to arrive, but by the time we started eating, there were a couple of other tables occupied – luckily it wasn’t busy.
The decor was a lot more modern than I was expecting, particularly given the Georgian-style exterior. There was a lot of velvet, including velvet wallpaper with kitsch stripes. There was plenty of space between tables; however, the tables were far too small, considering space was needed for the cake stand, teapots, strainers, plates and cutlery. I felt as though every time I moved, something would get knocked over and because of this, felt awkward and cramped.
We  began by looking at the tea menu, which included a number of varieties I had never heard of before. I opted for Assam and as Laura did the same, we shared a pot. As it was just leaves in the pot, there was a need for a tea strainer and the staff were very attentive in refilling the pot every so often. I don’t think I’ve ever drank so much tea in such a short space of time! The waiter then brought over the three-tier stand and thoughtfully went through every delight. Then it was time to dig in!
We began with the sandwiches – in four different kinds of bread and varying fillings. There was an egg mayonnaise and watercress sandwich on rye, a cream cheese and cucumber on oat – I found both of these rather bland. Of course there was a traditional ham and English mustard on white, while my favourite was the smoked salmon and cream cheese on beetroot bread, which was a bright purple. I have to admit, in comparison to afternoon tea at Threadneedles, the sandwiches didn’t wow me and I was rather disappointed – it was as though they’d been sitting in the fridge for a good couple of hours; dense and stodgy.
Next up were the scones – a plain sweet one and the other, with raisins. These were served with homemade strawberry jam, clotted cream and a lovely lemon curd preserve. I chose to have the plain scone first, but in both instances I ate one half with the traditional cream and jam, and the other with the lemon curd. The homemade jam was lush – not too sweet and with just the right size chunks of fruit – while the clotted cream wasn’t too heavy either. Both scones were incredible and still hot by the time we got round to eating them. The outsides were crisp and baked to perfection, while the insides were fluffy – not doughy or too much. I could have quite happily just had a whole stand of scones! If I was to compare the scones to my previous afternoon tea experience, Flemings would win hands down.

We finished with the top tier, a selection of petits fours: a selection of little cakes, pastries and desserts. There was a mini orange cupcake with orange buttercream icing and chocolate flower decoration, which I ate first. I continued the citrus theme with a mini lemon meringue pie, which I didn’t like as the pastry case was oddly savoury, almost like a vol-au-vent. The centrepiece was a lemon syllabub, topped with pistachios, which was lovely – very light but also very boozy!  The strawberry and white chocolate macaron was my favourite though – it was my first experience of a macaron and while the texture wasn’t what I was expecting, I loved it! I finished off with the raspberry and almond friande which was very sweet and dense – I couldn’t finish it. In all, I was impressed with the variety of mini treats on display, but was surprised by the lack of chocolate and amount of lemon.
I have since seen that Flemings offer a chocoholics afternoon tea, which sounds right up my street – with chocolate and cream or caramel teas – and an array of chocolate scones and other themed delights. A little more pricy at £39 a head, I’m still desperate to book up, even if I am still caked out!
Thank you Emerald Street for such a great promotion, which I definitely took advantage of – I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for the next time it comes around.
Have you ever been to Flemings for afternoon tea? Which hotels do you recommend? 

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