A Melbourne, London & Hong Kong dessert blog
Be enchanted by a whimsical afternoon tea in central London.
Afternoon tea in Melbourne/Australia can be a very ordinary affair. Likewise in London – limp ribbon sandwiches, dry scones, carelessly executed petit fours that one could buy at Starbucks perhaps. Ask, search and you shall find is the mantra of these Dessert Correspondents. Afternoon tea at the eclectic Sanderson Hotel in central London is one of the most talked-about afternoon rendezvous.
Served on quirky monochromatic dining ware (spot the queen of hearts, spinning carousels or the flying trapeze artists!), afternoon tea at the Sanderson starts off with a dancing ballerina musical box lined with sugar cubes. It accompanies a sweetly fragrant “Strawberries and Cream” loose leaf tea poured from a teapot that wears a paper crown. The head of that evil Queen of Hears perhaps? You ever so slowly sip and ponder this question, but your attention is quickly diverted when you spot the afternoon tea menu presented as a storybook. The service staff are faultless — Eastern European as is the increasing situation of many London dining establishments, but helpful and thorough.
The food component is served on traditional three-tiers but there is nothing traditional, generic, nor boring about the food on offer.
One begins with the savouries, of course, pinwheel sandwiches here rather than ribbon sandwiches. Somewhat damp little things, they were mostly an afterthought. There was smoked Cumbrian ham wrapped in sundried tomato bread, cucumber and chiver rolled in spinach bread, smoked salmon smeared with lemon butter inside a dark rye bread tube, watercress-sprinkled egg mayonaise layered onto spinach bread, a little quiche thing and two slightly miserable lumps of scones — a pumpkin and a chocolate.
If you don’t want to finish the savouries at the Sanderon, don’t. Save your stomach space for the essential sweeties.
First to be sampled was the “Strawberries and Cream Marshmallow Mushroom” – a mushroom with a marshmallow stem and a lightly-flavoured strawberry meringue top. So cute!
One step heavier was one of our favourite nibbles of the afternoon — the “Melting Mango Cheesecake” encased in a psychedelically-coloured white chocolate teardrop. The “cheesecake” was more soft mousse than firm cheesecake, with a deliciously wicked, liquid mango puree centre.
The next sweet irresistible was another of favourite of these Dessert Correspondents – the “Tick Tock Victoria Sponge.” Topped with a shimmery strawberry gelee layer on which a clock face had been etched with icing, the cake itself was sponge layered with jam and cream. Simply divine, time passed far too quickly when sampling this darling thing.
The fourth sweet thing to be offered was the slightly innocuous “Matcha Green Tea and White Chocolate Mousse Chocolate Tea Cup.” The green tea was not quite compatible when partnered with the white and dark chocolate components of this sweet bite.
The fifth item on was “Drink Me Potion,” a syrup of passionfruit – tangy, sharp, sweet, a good palate cleanser.
And finally, at the top tier of the afternoon tea stand was a large mug containing pea shoots, among which were nestled a clutch of baby meringue carrots. It left us squealing with joy. So girly!
But wait, fellow dessert fanatics, that is not all. Don’t forget the “Jelly Wonderland.” Harder than normal jelly in blueberry, strawberry, orange/lemon flavours to be scooped into a tall sundae glass — just enough for you to wobble out of the Sanderson splendidly contented.
Overlook the somewhat dismal savouries, focus on the quirky table setting, the polished, attentive service, and of course, the well-considered, themed sweet irresistibles, and afternoon tea at the Sanderson is an enchanting experience.
- Dessert adventure checklist
- Dessert destination: The Sanderson Hotel, 50 Berners Street, London, W1T 3NG, United Kingdom.
- Budget: $$$ ($38 GBP p/p)
- Sweet irresistibles: High tea.
- Must-eat: The “Melting Mango Cheesecake” and the “Tick Tock Victorian Sponge Cake”
- The short and sweet story: Be enchanted by a whimsical afternoon tea in central London.