Wimbledon Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House: Another Winner

2013 Wimbledon Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House Hotel, London

As an Anglophile and mum to a son and a daughter who, in their youth, were talented tennis players, Wimbledon has always held a special attraction to me. The pure Englishness of it all – strawberries and cream, dress code, Royal patronage –  is enough to melt the hearts of even those who could care less about the game. And this year the world, and especially we here in England, celebrated with great enthusiasm, the long-awaited and much-anticipated victory by Britain’s Andy Murray.

I may only live 20 miles from Wimbledon, but I wasn’t privileged enough to attend any matches. (It’s on my Bucket List!) But recently, I was privileged enough to attend an event much more comfortable (in terms of surroundings) and perhaps more satisfying than Wimbledon tennis – and that was the Wimbledon Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House, London.

Grosvenor House Wimbledon Afternoon Tea Tropical Fruit Salad appetizer

Tea in England readers know that this wasn’t my first trip to Grosvenor House for tea – last autumn, I enjoyed the Downton Abbey ‘Upstairs, Downstairs Afternoon Tea’ at Grosvenor House. It was pretty impressive, and today’s tea was much of the same.

There are so many places in London that do Afternoon Tea – and do it well – so it must be somewhat of a challenge to fashion unique aspects that will make your tea stand out. One of those unique aspects at Grosvenor House is the Tropical Fruit Salad that they serve as an appetizer. I just love the teensy-weensy cubes of fresh mango, pineapple and melon swimming in tangy, mouth-watering  fruit juice. It’s a real wake-up for the taste buds, and totally refreshing.

 

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea sandwiches at Grosvenor House, London

The first course of an Afternoon Tea – the bottom plate on the tiered-server – is tea sandwiches, and Grosvenor House recently changed their service to include two plates of sandwiches. It may be a heavy start for some people, but others will appreciate the abundance. Variety wise, there is something for everyone:

  • Smoked Chicken and Tarragon (my favourite that day)
  • Cucumber with Mint Butter
  • Clarence Court free-range Eggs with Mayonnaise and Cress
  • Roast Sirloin of Beef with Creamed Horseradish
  • Loch Fyne Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese and Dill
  • Coldwater Prawns and Marie Rose Sauce
  • Ham with Somerset Cheddar

 

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea scones, Grosvenor House, London

The second course of an Afternoon Tea is usually reserved for scones, and at Grosvenor House they offer both raisin and buttermilk. I can tell you that Grosvenor House know how to make a good scone. They are not the most attractive scones I’ve ever seen on a tea table, but they are warm, light, [slightly] crunchy-on-the-outside-but-soft-on-the-inside, and full of flavour. So frankly, who cares what they look like. At the end of the day, taste should overrule appearance when it comes to a scone. (Do you agree?)

 

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea sweets, Grosvenor House, London

And finally, at the point where you are so full you cannot think of eating another bite, you reach the third and final course of an Afternoon Tea – the top plate on the tiered-server – which is the sweets. And the rule is, no matter how full you are, you must eat all of at least some of them. They are so beautiful and tempting.

The Wimbledon Afternoon Tea sweets included Chocolate and Orange Roulade; mini Victoria Sponge; Pistachio Macarons (to die for!!); Champagne Jelly with Berries (lovely!!); Vanilla Panacotta with Strawberries and Mint (Mr. Tea in England’s favourite); and a Strawberry Opera Gateau.  Everything was delicately delicious, but the macarons were my favourite. Confession time: I asked for extras!

 

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

I have left out details about the tea beverage itself, but our pots of Twinings tea were perfectly brewed, and served with panache by our efficient and friendly waiter, Mihail.

One detail I do, however, want to share with you are these charming sleeves that contain the artificial sweetener. Don’t you just love them! Until now, I’ve never seen an elegant camouflage for those ugly little pink packets; it’s a perfect solution and one that you could easily achieve on your own tea table with a bit of DIY.

 

Wimbledon Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

An added bonus to the Grosvenor House Wimbledon Afternoon Tea was the availability of even more cakes and goodies located on a table in the centre of the room.  Talk about indulgence!

 

Park Room, Grosvenor House, London

Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House is a delightful and immensely satisfying treat. The atmosphere is dignified and grand – but the service is relaxed and friendly, and this is one of the things I find most appealing there.

Like the games themselves, this year’s Wimbledon Afternoon Tea has ended. But it’s always teatime at Grosvenor House, and they are now taking reservations for their signature Anna’s Tea – named for the woman who started it all by ‘inventing’ the ritual of afternoon tea: Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford.

Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel, is served from 2pm – 6pm daily in the The Park Room & Library overlooking Hyde Park.

When was the last time you went to Afternoon Tea in London? It’s time to treat yourself! Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House is an experience not to be missed.

 

 

 

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Would Carson approve of Downton’s “Upstairs, Downstairs” Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House?

Tea Table, Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

Downton Abbey mania has swept the world and I for one am not ashamed to count myself a fan. As a tea enthusiast, some of my favourite scenes are those when tea is either served or mentioned – and those scenes are plentiful. I make no apologies for fantasizing about what it would have been like to live the Downton lifestyle. “Tea is served, m’lady.”   Sigh.

Perhaps one of the reasons I love going for Afternoon Tea is because it gives me a sense of ‘another time, another place’.  Whatever the reason, love it I do and on Saturday I had an opportunity to dine like the Crawley’s and the Grantham’s at a Downton Abbey inspired Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House, London.

 

Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London

 

To create a special Downton variation on our award winning Tea was easy for me as I am a huge fan of the series! – Nigel Boschetti, Executive Chef

Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea was designed to celebrate the launch of series 3 of Downton Abbey, which takes place during the 1920’s – when Grosvenor House itself first started serving Afternoon Tea.  Nigel Boschetti, Executive Chef at Grosvenor House, created the special menu after researching cuisine from the 1920s. He has done an excellent job of fusing decadent ‘upstairs’ delights that the Crawley’s and Grantham’s might have indulged in, such as Smoked Salmon Pin Wheels, with ‘downstairs’ fare, like Bread Pudding, that would have fueled Carson and his team of servants.

 

Tea Table in Window, Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London

 

Upon arrival for our 4 o’clock reservation, we were escorted to The Park Room which is where Afternoon Tea is served at Grosvenor House.  I really, really liked this space – it was wide and open and tables weren’t jammed close together as often is the case in hotel tea venues.  Sunlight was streaming into the room, adding a beautiful golden glow to the already opulent surroundings. A pianist was playing a piano in the corner of the room.

I didn’t take any photographs of the room in order to preserve the privacy of other diners, but afterwards I popped out and snapped the above picture to show you the table where we were seated. Window tables are smaller than most of the other tables in The Park Room; nevertheless, we very much enjoyed looking out over Park Lane and Hyde Park, and never felt awkward even with a fairly steady stream of outside passers by.

 

Table set for Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London           Twinings Tea being poured, Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London
 

The tea tables in The Park Room at Grosvenor House are lovely and welcoming. Instead of white table-covers, theirs are a warm shade of what I would call ‘tea green’, and nicely match the green-and-gold edged design on the pretty white china. There was a small flower on the table to add colour. Altogether, the appearance was one of understated elegance.

After reviewing the extensive tea menu, we decided on Lady Grey, and English Breakfast. The tea was Twinings loose-leaf and it was perfectly brewed. As an ardent tea drinker, I can honestly say that this was a superior pot of tea. In fact, when we did our weekly food shop the following day, we made a point of purchasing a box of loose-leaf Twinings – it was that good. As we finished our respective pots of tea – and with precision timing – our waiter returned with hot water for a second infusion, which turned out to be just as tasty.

I will take a moment here to mention the excellent service we received. Our waiter was super-efficient, very friendly, and obviously trained to a high standard. He was able to answer every question I had about the tea and food, and he truly did seem to enjoy what he was doing.

 

Fruit Salad, Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

Fruit Salad

 

Before the tea food arrived, we were served a mouthwatering fruit salad of mango, pineapple, and melon – a lovely, unexpected surprise. The fruits – diced into little bitty pieces – were in just the right amount of juice. After a long day of traipsing about London, it was the perfect appetizer. Very refreshing!

 

Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea
Grosvenor House, London

 

Tea sandwiches, Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

Matthew Crawley’s Loch Fyne Smoked Salmon Pin Wheels
Free Range Chicken with Tarragon
Clarence Court Free Range Egg with Watercress
Cucumber with Mint Butter
Honey Roast Ham with English Mustard
Roast Beef with Horseradish
Prawn Mayonnaise

 

The sandwiches, a nice selection of  ‘above stairs’ and ‘below stairs’, were fair.  We felt that the cucumber could have been sliced a bit thicker and that, generally, all the sandwiches could have used more filling.  But overall, they were tasty, and extra sandwiches were provided when we asked. (The bread seemed to taste a bit fresher with the second round.)

 

Baked Bread Buns, Scones, Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

Mr. Bates’ Baked Bread Buns
Freshly Baked Scones

 

I was looking forward to the Baked Bread Buns, and they did not disappoint.  Although rather un-dainty to split open (I had to use my fingers; too dense to cut with a luncheon knife), once spread with butter and jam, they were quite enjoyable – true comfort food. I could just imagine a scrubbed pine table below stairs bearing a plate of these freshly baked bread buns, a sturdy Brown Betty on stand-by ready to serve up enough tea to wash them all down.

The scones, on the other hand, did disappoint. As soon as I saw them I knew something had gone wrong in the kitchen. They clearly had not risen and just didn’t look right (this from a woman who has baked many a scone in her day). I wanted to at least try to eat the plain scone, but it crumbled everywhere when I gently eased it open. I had better luck with the fruit scone, but the taste was mediocre at best. I realise that these things happen, but scones are at the very heart of an Afternoon Tea; I question the decision behind putting them on the plate to begin with.

 

Butter, Lemon Curd, Jam, Clotted Cream, Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

Butter, Clotted Cream, Jam, and Mrs. Patmore’s Lemon Curd
Worth noting are the generous portions

 

Pastries, Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

Chocolate Dipped Eclair
Victoria Sponge
Raspberry Tartlet
Vanilla Cream slice
Lady Mary’s Madeleine
Carson’s Bread Pudding
Lemon Chiffon

 

The dessert tier was sheer perfection. Every pastry and cake was fresh and full-flavoured. Mr. Tea pronounced Carson’s Bread Pudding to be exceptionally satisfying, and I found the Lemon Chiffon to be an excellent finale to Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House.

 

Overview

Mr. Tea and I have had Afternoon Tea at a number of London venues. Following today’s tea at Grosvenor House, we discussed whether or not Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea was good value for money (£34.50 each).  We talked about what makes an Afternoon Tea – for us –  GOOD.  We determined that if we were in pleasing, comfortable surroundings; were served good food of a fair portion, and tea that was properly brewed; were waited on by staff who were friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable; and at the end of it all, felt full and satisfied, then  – regardless of the cost – we had experienced good value and a satisfying Afternoon Tea.

Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House in London ticked all those boxes mentioned above, and earned our approval. With some minor adjustments to the tea sandwiches and scones, we think Carson would approve, as well.

 

Grosvenor House’s very own 1920’s Afternoon Tea price (1920 is the year in which Downton Abbey series 3 is set) of £2.25p for Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea, is available to the first two telephone bookings received (for two people only) on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday until November 11th.

Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea is £34.50 per person at all other times and will be served in The Park Room at Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel, overlooking Hyde Park, 2pm – 6pm daily from Sunday 16 September until Sunday 11 November. To be in with a chance of securing a 1920’s priced Tea, call reservations from 11am on +44 (0) 207 399 8452 and quote Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea.

 

 Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary services for review purposes, which has not influenced this report.