Afternoon Tea makes eating cake for dinner completely legitimate. Therefore I love it. That and the pomp and ceremony of those tiered plates, heavy with colourful pastries, delicate finger sandwiches and pillow soft scones.
I wanted to share some photos of my most recent indulgence at Balthazar in Covent Garden which my sister kindly organised. If you are looking for a slightly less formal Afternoon Tea at a reasonable price (£25) without skimping on quality then Balthazar is an amazing find. The decor is that of a classic Parisien cafe and as is expected in Covent Garden the place is bustling. See the menu here.
To the food....
Sandwiches- possibly a little bit cold but there was a lovely selection of interesting combinations. Crab, tarragon mayonnaise and lemon on soft white Pullman bread was my favourite.
Plain and raisin scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam- I have been spoiled by my Mother's fresh scones over the years and so the scones are rarely a gem in the crown of Afternoon Tea for me. However these scones were exceptional. Beautifully glazed, the top was slightly crunchy while the interior was mallowy soft without any hint of under-baking. Smack the clotted cream on there you have got a scone Walter Mitty would be dreaming about.
Selection of pastries- The pastries are, of course the stars of the show. The classics featured heavily (Gateau Opera, Fresh Fruit Tartellette and Lemon Raspberry and Rose Macaron) with some individuality shining through in the more unconventional choices (Passion Fruit and Coconut Fool, Banana Spice Cake and Almond Rocher).
The macaron was possibly a highlight for me with the Almond Rocher (sponge topped with almond mousse covered with chocolate and chopped almonds) coming in close behind. In fact even the seemingly innocuous Fruit Tartellette was delicious. Too often a tartellette has a soggy bottom or the fruit is too bitter. The Balthazar Tartellette suffered from neither of these afflictions.
Oh and the Banana Spice Cake was great. Cinnamon sponge hollowed out for a dollop of caramel and topped with a slice of banana and a pecan nut. Divine.
As you can see I have trouble picking a favourite(s).
Excellent Afternoon Tea reasonably priced in the centre of London.