Does such a thing as a guiltless afternoon tea really exist? Up to now, I would have definitely said no as those sweet treats can hide lots of calories, so I was delighted to discover the Guiltless Afternoon Tea dreamed up by The Intercontinental London Park Lane. Served in the stylish Wellington Lounge, it makes clever use of all natural ingredients and is free from refined sugar. They will happily adapt it for any dietary requirements, including gluten and dairy free.
The Wellington Lounge itself is an open plan area with low lighting, and recently awarded the UK Tea Guild ‘Award of Excellence’. It stands on the former site of 145 Piccadilly, which was Her Majesty the Queen’s former childhood home until her family moved to Buckingham Palace in 1937.
I had a date with fellow foodies Angie, Lucy and Zoe who also have an appetite for healthy but flavourful food. Since starting my website, they have been a fantastic support and sounding board, so it was great to spend more time with them.
We started with a warming pot of tea – I chose the Intercontinental Park Lane’s exclusive blend, Number One Park Lane. It was a sweet and full bodied mix of Madagascan Vanilla Pods and marigold flowers. Our waiter brought us a striking Art Deco style tea stand, laden with healthy treats. The Market Garden sandwiches are all served on gluten-free bread, and focus on seasonal British vegetables.
I particularly enjoyed the unusual aubergine and roasted piquillio pepper sandwich with celeriac, which had a wonderful smoky taste. The Manouri cheese marinated in basil was also very interesting – I hadn’t heard of this cheese before but it comes from Greece and is creamier than feta in taste. We also tried a nettle marinated asparagus rolled in courgette ribbons. The star of the show was probably the thyme roasted butternut with balsamic caviar and fresh dill, which we all loved. The great thing about this afternoon tea is that it’s really filling, because it’s mainly protein based.
We tasted a guiltless cocktail with the sandwiches, made from Cane Rum, lime juice, fennel and agave syrup. I’m not sure how this is entirely guiltless, but to be fair you don’t need large quantities of the rum to give the drink flavour. It was certainly refreshing and made a change from champagne, not that I ever get tired of that!
Then it was on to the wholemeal scones which were surprisingly tasty – I’m quite a wholemeal fan but have only ever tried white flour scones. The homemade fresh fruit compote and virtuous creme fraiche accompanied them perfectly.
The cakes were beautifully presented and included a very moreish blueberry & yoghurt chiffon cake with fresh blueberries. I loved the polenta and almond cake which complemented the tea blend perfectly. Perhaps the most intriguing cake was the red velvet, made with quinoa, cream cheese, agave nectar, a small touch of panela (raw cane sugar). Normally red velvet cake is a very guilty pleasure so it was great to try an alternative, and whilst it worked well, I preferred the other cakes.
After over 3 hours of animated conversation, it was time to head out into the big chill again. Thanks to the Guiltless Afternoon Tea, we left feeling light and with our consciences clear! It’s available until June 2015 so don’t hesitate to check it out:
Wellington Lounge at The Intercontinental Park Lane, 1 Hamilton Place, London, Park Lane W1J 7QY