Afternoon tea symbolises everything great about English food; cake, sandwiches, scones and tea. It’s also the perfect introduction for anyone visiting or moving to the country. It truly is a relaxing and indulgent treat. That’s why I decided to treat my mum to afternoon tea at The Mandevlille Hotel in Marylebone, when she visited for her birthday.
We started with a mango bellini, which we were served as we were seated. The menu mentions being able to choose from a selection of seasonal bellinis, but this wasn’t the case for us. Though we were offered a choice of which tea to accompany our food with – I chose the refreshing organic mint melange, which was clearly a quality tea. Next up were the sandwiches, which were light and flavourful. The cucumber and cream cheese was my favourite of the selection. I know cucumber sandwiches sound incredibly boring, but they’re one English tradition that I dearly hope will never fade.
One of the most integral parts of afternoon tea are the scones, of course. These ones looked as good as they tasted – rustic (there’s something just not right with a smooth scone) and slightly sweetened. The jam was store bought, but was sweet and not overly sugary. However the pièce de résistance was the clotted cream – something I’m always very critical of – which was rich and sweet. And before you ask, I always put cream on first, then jam.
The apple and custard pots were by far the best sweet offering on the table. The soft, tart apple contrasted perfectly against the sweet custard, and the crunchy, sugary crumble. Both me and my mum agreed that we would quite happily eat a plateful of them. However the rest of the sweets on the table were a bit of a let-down, the raspberry meringues and battenburg cake were good, but nothing to write home about. However the biggest upset of the afternoon was the cake, and as we all know, cake is an important part of afternoon tea. So to be served up dry coffee and walnut cake/chocolate fudge cake (that tasted a day old) was quite upsetting for me. Luckily my mum had left hers until last, by which point she was quite full, so she wasn’t upset. Though if I had been taking anyone else here, I would have complained.
The hotel itself is a comfortable setting, and the afternoon tea area is quite intimate (around 6 tables), making for a lovely experience. However whilst I felt that we ate and drank plenty, I felt that the quality of the food was lacking slightly. It’s not one of the best afternoon tea’s I’ve had, and I probably wouldn’t go back, but for the price it isn’t bad. Afternoon Tea at The Mandeville Hotel is £26.50 each with a free bellini (minus service charge).
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