Review – It’s All In The Game – Afternoon tea at the St James Hotel, Mayfair
Afternoon teas have long been a tradition in hotels across the city of London. There are many types to be had and in the quest to tempt customers through their doors, hotels are upping their game and creating some amazing experiences with exquisite centrepieces and themes. My latest venture saw me at the St James Hotel and sampling their new high tea called ‘It’s All In The Game’. Taking inspiration from your favourite board games, Executive Head Chef, William Drabble, has created stunning pastries to delight and amuse both the taste buds and the eye. Alongside the tea are a selection of the board games which you can enjoy playing if you so desire.
Set in the picturesque suburb of Mayfair, the St James Hotel sits down a quiet cul-de-sac away from the hubbub of Piccadilly. Frequented by film stars and celebrities it is an elegant building that despite the concrete coloured clouds above still looked majestic. Such luminaries to grace it’s doorstep include Sir Winston Churchill, Ian Fleming, Liza Minnelli and Dudley Moore.
Situated at the front of the hotel looking over the quiet street with big bay windows, the afternoon tea tables were set. We chose to start with a glass of Ruinart Champagne, a light and fruity champagne, it was the perfect start.
There is a great selection of teas to suit all tastes. I like a classic tasting tea so our knowledgeable server recommended the Assam for me whilst my companion chose the more adventurous Lemon Verbena. The quality of the tea speaks for itself, I didn’t realise till halfway through my pot that I hadn’t used any milk.
The sandwiches were a selection of egg mayonnaise with mustard cress, ham, smoked salmon and cream cheese & cucumber all served on a variety of white and brown breads.
Whilst I am definitely a savoury lover the piece de resistance are invariably the cakes. The intricate pastry work and decoration are nearly too good to eat, I say nearly, of course we dove in after taking our photos.
The Chess Board consisted of a chocolate and vanilla shortbread looking like a chess board filled with a dulcey ganache (caramalised white chocolate) topped with a dulcey chocolate chess piece. The Snakes and Ladders were made from dark chocolate filled with milk chocolate mousse, topped with cherries marinated in Kirsch, snake-skin print chocolate a chocolate ladder and a passion fruit marshmallow snake.
The Top Hat was made from dark chocolate filled with a blood orange mousse, set on a gluten-free dark chocolate sponge, topped with a blood orange jelly and finished with a dark chocolate and silver glaze. The Dice was gluten-free Battenberg sponge cake with apricot jam, covered with marzipan, finished with white chocolate crispy biscuit pearls (contain gluten) and topped with a white chocolate dice.
Of course afternoon tea would not be complete without scones served with clotted cream and homemade preserves. The scones were light and feathery with the clotted cream a great consistency and the jam sat nicely on top of the cream. The obvious debate ensued as to whether it is jam or cream first, luckily those present were in agreement.
With a range of afternoon tea packages to choose from there is sure to be something for everyone including the kids. If you have any dietary requirements these can be accommodated for at the time of booking. For a luxurious tea in elegant surroundings and oozing with history, the St James Hotel is unquestionably up there with the best. A big thank you to the lovely Suze for taking me as her guest. A wonderful afternoon with splendid company. Next time I’d love to try the Michelin-starred restaurant, Seven Park Place, William’s menu looks divine!