Thursday, 24 October 2013

Champagne Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley

The Berkeley
Didn't we have a lovely time the day we went to The Berkeley.......well not as lovely as we had first imagined if I'm to be brutally honest. 
If you're not familiar with The Berkeley it is a lovely hotel set back off Knightsbridge in between Hyde Park Corner and Knightsbridge tube stations. 
A mecca for foodies, rich Arabs and Americans who flock to London's magnificent Blue Room for cocktails, lunch at Koffmann's followed by dinner with Marcus Waring if you fancy. We chose the Caramel Room for afternoon tea which was seriously overloaded with female customers who all seemed to be talking, laughing and taking photos at the same time.  Husbands were seen earnestly checking out the nearest Ferrari showroom as though their lives depended on it.

The Berkeley Hotel

We were looking forward to experiencing the famous and much lauded fashionista's afternoon tea, Prêt-à-Portea. Aligning fashion and food is certainly an innovative idea and fits perfectly with a couple of impressive corner shops, including Harrods and Harvey Nichols. Certainly not your traditional afternoon tea if that is what you're thinking.

The Berkeley team are beautifully presented in stylish outfits and swish their way between the tables taking orders, pouring champagne and delivering pots of tea with aplomb. Each course is introduced and menu choice is explained in depth. 

Dainty sandwiches comprising of a variety of different breads are offered with traditional fillings. However, quality and finish of sandwiches is disappointing with one or two sandwiches missing great chunks of bread as though they'd been put together by a chef with one hand tucked behind his or her back. A glass of chilled champagne was very good indeed and served at the start of the tea before tucking into the naughty sticky stuff.

The crockery is a delight and I'm assured that this is a Paul Smith design produced for Wedgwood. A startling selection of loose leaf teas and infusions are available to wash down each and every mouthful. Peppermint tea was so very refreshing as was the Camomile.  There is even a Berkeley Blend.

The cake stands are stunning and well stocked with a variety of savoury and sweet treats such as clear water prawn cone and roasted summer vegetable tart which I have to say was superb. 

Everything is beautifully presented but as they say on the Great British Bake Off, 'Style over Substance.' Too many mousse and biscuit creations for my liking which generally lacked intensity of flavour.

Tory Burch’s racy violet halterneck biscuit bikini with magenta icing or is that purple, was fun but didn't send the taste buds into ecstasy.

Alexander McQueen entertaining yellow honeycomb cream over sized dress topped with marzipan bee, minus an almond wing....

The Berkeley is certainly an interesting place to visit with a buzzing atmosphere. Seating is relaxed and service is quick, efficient and done with a sense of pride, enthusiasm and fun. 

In terms of price it is very expensive even though they offer to top up your empty plates with more sandwiches and biscuit bikinis at every visit to the table. However, if you're charging high prices you expect high quality and the slightly rough and ready sandwiches followed by the not so perfect handbags and flavourless mousses was a bit disappointing. Surely somebody could design a mille-feuile dress or a scone hat?

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