Kensington is one of London’s most iconic areas, famed for its palace, parks and glamorous shops. Perfectly in keeping with the area, The Kensington Hotel is one of my favourite haunts. I’d previously enjoyed a fabulous lunch in their Town House restaurant so was delighted to return to sample their afternoon tea.
The decor of the hotel has been designed by the owner whose feminine touches give the place a really modern yet cosy feel. The drawing room has been recently redesigned and is bright and airy. I was meeting my friend Elizabeth who has a penchant for bubbles like me ;-). At The Kensington Hotel, afternoon tea is a very reasonable £35 per person or £45 with a glass of champagne. Our Perrier-Jouët champagne had a wonderful biscuity taste with very fine bubbles.
Next our friendly waitress brought us some warm savoury treats. The smoked salmon gougere with horseradish creme fraiche was delicious. I used to live in Burgundy, France where gougeres originated and I can safely say that these are amongst the best I’ve tasted. The wild mushroom and leek tart with aged Parmesan had a fantastic umami flavour thanks to the cheese.
We chose our teas from the extensive menu, a classic English breakfast for Elizabeth and a rich berry flavoured tea for me.
Then the piece de resistance arrived, two pretty afternoon tea stands, laden with a selection of sandwiches and sweet treats. One of my pet gripes with afternoon teas is when they provide you with one small stand between three people but here we had one generous tray each. It’s also better if one of your friends has specific dietary requirements. By the way, the Kensington Hotel also offer a healthy tea with a selection of gluten free sandwiches, savouries and sweets and gluten free scones.
We both liked the Dorset crab and avocado with lemon purée the best, it’s an unusual one for an afternoon tea and all the more welcome because of that. We also enjoyed the Wiltshire ham with tarragon mustard and pea shoots as well as the braised salt beef with English mustard and cornichons. No afternoon tea would be complete without the quintessential cucumber sandwiches and whilst they’re never my favourite, these were very edible.
We then tucked into the sweets, a spectacular dark chocolate and cherry panacotta with sea salt caramel, a moreish vanilla and raspberry macaron, and a traditional Victoria sponge sandwich…They were dusted with caster sugar and topped with fresh fruit, making them look even more appetizing.
We also enjoyed the plum Bakewell tart with frangipane and almonds and a carrot and walnut cake with a cucumber and cream cheese icing.
There were two types of buttermilk scones, one with raisins and one without – both equally delicious. Freshly baked, they were served with strawberry jam and Devonshire clotted cream.
This afternoon tea is one I’d definitely recommend and it’s particularly good for:
– Hungry people – generous portions!
– Those with allergies or on a health kick
– Design aficionados – the decor is stunning
The Kensington London, 109 – 113 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 5LR