The Park Lane Hotel in London’s Piccadilly is going in to botanical overload with its new take on the old-age tradition of Afternoon Tea. To celebrate the RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s centennial, Park Lane Sheraton will be hosting a delectable Flowering Afternoon Tea replete with edible flowers. Naturally, we were one of the first few to sample the horticulturally-inspired teatime treats.
Upon entry in to the Palm Courts, the hotel’s beautiful art deco lounge, you are greeted with the angelic sounds stemming from the in-house harpist, creating an indelible ambience for your experience. My guest and I opted for the couches, and once seated the waiter brought us our Wild Blossom Champagne Cocktail – Champagne topped off with an edible hibiscus flower soaked in syrup. Simply put, it was delicious. The wild hibiscus, that is.
As the cocktail soaked our palates, we then began engaging in the plethora of sandwiches and savouries that arrived at our table. They included; Poached Scottish salmon, cucumber and fennel crème fraiche served on a mini muffin with cucumber flowers; Orange blossom honey, wholegrain mustard roast ham, candied tomatoes and watercress on white bread; and Goat’s cheese, asparagus and lemon verbena tartlet with a soft boiled quail’s egg. Make sure to ask your astute waiter/waitress about the select ingredients, they’ll no doubt guide you on each piece. We couldn’t get over the asparagus and lemon verbena tartlet with a soft boiled quail’s egg; the pastry base alone deserves yearning.
The accompanying teas are a selection of traditional British, Oriental, herbal and fruit-infused teas – I opted for the Rooibos while my tea enthusiast companion went for the daring yet beautiful, Flowering Osmanthus.
After carefully taking our time with the warm, homemade plain and apple and raisin scones, served with lemon verbena curd (amazing!), clotted cream and seasonal preserves, we were presented a platter of floral pastries. Presented in such artful and exquisite style – so beautiful, my friend was hesitant in eating them.
Contents of said platter include: chocolate hanging basket with spiced Chai tea mousse and chocolate soil; a Honey orange blossom pain de gene with mango compote and edible honey bees; a Rosewater and raspberry mousse with crystallised rose petals on a rose macaroon and Pistachio and hazelnut chocolate financier “garden patch” with chocolate ladybird. Presented on a marzipan gardening patch edged with a chocolate rockery and complete with the edible garden gnome centrepiece perched on a white chocolate toadstool. All of which are edible with the exception of a tiny pitchfork on the side of the Pistachio and hazelnut chocolate financier “garden patch” .
Amongst the afternoon teas on offer, the Sheraton Park Lane has created something rather unique in the market. And in speaking with the Pastry Chef, Sarah Hartnett, one gathers that there is a lot of emphasis on creativity and playfulness, while still keeping with the tradition and paying respectable homage to RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
IRTS: What was the last thing that made you stop and stare?
Pastry Chef, Sarah Hartnett: I was at The Square, in Berkeley Square, for a meeting and the chef invited us to sample the new menu, I was mesmerized and taken aback by the array of food on display. It was beautiful. It’s usually well made, and well presented food that does it for me.
Flowering Afternoon Tea at The Park Lane Hotel
14th May to 9th June 2013
3pm-6pm on weekdays and 2pm-6pm at weekends
The Palm Court
£45 per person; Bookings must be made in advance.