Two weekends ago, we celebrated mum’s birthday with afternoon tea at the Haymarket Hotel, Piccadilly – as organised by my brother. He had been to other Firmdale Hotels before, but never Haymarket – and everything was kept a surprise until we actually arrived at the hotel. I knew about it, of course, having to put in special dietary requests.
I’m not sure if he had specified it was a birthday in the booking, but I was very well looked after, from the moment we arrived – in fact, I felt as though it was my special day. There were plenty of other parties celebrating birthdays though – all groups bigger than our table of four – and during our two hour sitting (booked for 3:30pm), the Brumus Restaurant was busy, mainly those indulging in afternoon tea.
We were sat in a booth, which was really comfortable and gave us plenty of space – something very important when having afternoon tea, especially when they brought three different cake stands and three different pots of tea over. The decor’s incredibly quirky, with lots of abstract and colourful art on the walls – and the lampshades hanging from the ceiling resembled umbrellas... something we could have done with, as it poured with rain all day! The china was beautiful and I loved the table set up, especially with the small table lamp – perfect for those blogger snaps!
While I stuck to mineral water, everyone else toasted the occasion with a flute of Pommery champagne. The standard price is £24pp, while the champagne afternoon tea is £31.50pp. At this point, we also chose our teas and there was plenty of choice. While only three options were available on the standard afternoon tea menu (breakfast tea, earl grey and Darjeeling), for a £2.50 supplement, there were numerous varieties and flavours to choose from. Mum and Robert went traditional with breakfast tea, Ashley had earl grey and I upgraded to the vanilla rooibos (caffeine-free!) from the speciality menu. My pot of tea arrived immediately, before the cake stands were brought to the table; however, the champagne drinkers were made to wait for theirs – eventually asking, as the food was being devoured.
The cake stands, as usual, were set up for two. Ashley and Robert shared as they sat opposite each other. Because my plates differed from the normal treats on offer, I had a stand to myself, which meant mum did too. Don’t worry, I’ll be running through both lots of afternoon tea! Like I say, the Haymarket Hotel did a really good job in catering to my requirements... there’s also gluten-free, vegan and reduced sugar options, if that’s something you require – as long as you make this known when securing your reservation.
On the standard afternoon tea, the savoury items consisted of a pea & ham hock arancini; a smoked and poached salmon & cream cheese wrap; a feta & black olive finger sandwich; and a second finger sandwich with cucumber & crème fraîche filling. My salmon wrap was replaced with a third finger sandwich: cream cheese, peppers & rocket – and while I really liked it, I was devo’d I couldn’t have the wrap, especially when everyone remarked how tasty it was... I do love smoked salmon, too. I loved the pea & ham hock arancini though and could, quite easily, have had a whole plate of them!
The next tier contained the scones, which were freshly baked and wrapped inside a linen napkin to keep them warm. There were two scones per person: plain and fruit and these were accompanied by clotted cream, strawberry and raspberry preserves. The scones were so beautiful: glazed and crisp on the outside, but soft on the inside and not at all dense. The jams were a good consistency too and there was no scrimping on portion size.
The sweet treats on the top tier also differed and I have to admit, I was even more jealous then! For the standard afternoon tea, there were four different items: a strawberry & cointreau verrine in a shot glass; a mini apricot & passion fruit tart; chilli chocolate torte with Griotte cherry; and a strawberry & cream Darjeeling cupcake. Unfortunately, I could only have the tart and the cupcake, so had two of each – which was fine, as I thoroughly enjoyed both. The cupcake was incredibly light, the frosting thick and creamy; while the flavours were delicate and worked well together. I love fruit tarts and while these mini ones were gone in a mouthful, the balance of sweet and tartness was spot-on. My choice of tea was good, too.
In my opinion, the service was good – I felt like my requests were met well and everything from ordering to receiving my tea was satisfactory. I know everyone else was a little annoyed with the time it took for their tea to be brought to the table, but the food arrived in good time – and everything was well-explained to us.
Compared to other hotels and restaurants, the afternoon tea was good value for money – and there’s even a Wind in the Willows themed one running at the moment. It was a lovely leisurely afternoon celebrating mum’s birthday and so nice to have everyone together. I would return to Brumus Restaurant – for dinner, rather than afternoon tea, though!
Love, Lucy xx