I hardly venture out for Afternoon Tea as I am not a big eater. All those delicious cakes and scones are wasted on me as I peck away slowly through the tiers, pretty much stuffed after the first course. Luckily my husband is a cake fiend and he will happily polish off what I can’t have. Over the years, we have found this perfect balance to enjoy the classic art of Afternoon Tea.
Continuing on that note, Kris and I visited The Galvin at the Athenaeum in Mayfair recently. I have always admired The Athenaeum’s statement living wall facade every time I went through Piccadilly. It was wonderful to finally set afoot and check the place out from inside.
The afternoon tea takes places in an informal area outside the main restaurant, with full height windows that let the dust-speckled sunlight shine through as well as offer views of the busy street thriving with tourists and Green Park beyond. The newly renovated space is tasteful and serene, although its close proximity to the hotel lobby makes the place slightly noisy at times.
We decided to go for the Classic Afternoon Tea option (£29.50 per person). They have a comprehensive selection of loose-leaf tea, infusions and champagne upgrades. They also offer a Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea (£31.50 per person) for an extra tier of jazzed up scotch eggs and sausage rolls – which is perfect for the likes of those who prefer their savoury over sweet.
I like my tea strong and milky. The Assam BOP, with its ‘rich, intense and malty flavour‘ was an easy enough decision. Kris is not a tea drinker, so I was glad our server Luigi gently coaxed and recommended him to try a few different infusions before settling for the Earl Grey. After having the first couple of sips, I must admit; there was something quite calm and relaxing about drinking and savouring a hot cup of tea.
First to arrive on the table was a trio of Devonshire clotted cream, homemade blackberry and strawberry preserves for our scones, served in miniature globular bowls.
Soon we were greeted by the sight of our indulgent selection of sweet and savoury treats. On the lowest tier was a savoury assortment of finger sandwiches that included Cumbrian beef & horseradish served with onion bread, Galvin cure smoked salmon from Severn and Wye, Burford brown egg and watercress and Dingley Dell ham and Maille mustard.
The smoked salmon was of the freshest kind. The egg and cress, served inside the softest brioche, was worlds apart from the ubiquitous supermarket variety; the filling was light and pillowy with a slight hint of the peppery cress. The quality of the ingredients speak for themselves here.
Our favourite tier was the middle one: delicious scones of two types – plain and fruity (studded with raisins). They came thoughtfully wrapped up in cloth napkins to keep them fresh and warm. The scones were expertly baked and gleefully devoured in a matter of minutes.
The topmost tier had a colourful collection of pastries that included Morant Bay Chocolate Slice, Raspberry and Orely’s Chocolate Tart, Hazelnut Éclair, Apricot Tart and Pistachio Macaron. The highlight for me was the éclair engorged with that creamy nutty filling. All of them were delicious sugary triumphs – beautifully crafted, deftly prepared and pleasing to the mouthful.
By the time we worked our way through the tiers, we were stuffed to the brim. This is the point when our lovely waiter informed us that we still had a fourth course to go – a selection of homemade cakes which included Victoria Sponge, Orange Drizzle and Black Forest Gateau. Not ready to back down, we asked for a small slice of each and I got Kris on the case!
Looking back, it was overall a pleasant afternoon. The sweet and savoury spread, although not game-changing, was delectable and showed a lot of skill and attention to detail. Service was cordial and not rushed, but at times forgetful and distracted. It was a good introduction to the Galvin Brothers’ Afternoon Tea offering and to the Athenaeum hotel brand. I would be keen to try their other menus to see how they compare.
More information can be found here.
N.B. All photos and opinions are mine and my partner’s. I review anonymously and pay for my meals. This is not a sponsored post.