If you’re looking to treat yourself to a luxurious afternoon tea, then look no further than Cadogan’s by Adam Handling, located at the renowned Belmond Cadogan Hotel in the heart of Chelsea. Once the regular haunt of notable figures, such as Irish playwright, Oscar Wilde, and home to actress and socialite, Lillie Langtry, the grand Victorian building that was originally constructed in 1887 has since undergone a £37 million makeover to create an atmosphere of modern, understated luxury.
Botanical motifs play a notable part in the interior decor, echoed throughout this iconic building – a tribute to Hans Sloane, the aristocrat-naturalist whose collection laid the basis for the British Museum. The afternoon tea lounge was just as sleek and exquisite as I had imagined, with inviting leather-clad and plush velvet sofas, and a gorgeous marble-top bar at the end of the room. We were seated in a cosy corner of the room, where the staff also kindly accommodated Lili’s little one, Amelia, who tagged along with us, as her dad was away with the boys watching football!
The afternoon tea menu is a unique execution of the quintessential British ritual, combining the history of High Tea with the luxury of Afternoon Tea, an elegant experience crafted by acclaimed chef, Adam Handling. To whet our appetites, was an amuse bouche in the form of a delectable egg custard served in a delicate eggshell, the wafts of the aromatic shaved truffle had me salivating for more. This was finely paired with a glass of crisp and refreshing Adam Handling’s Own Label Sparkling Wine from West Sussex.
From their range of Newby teas, I went for the Adam Handling Assam, a full-bodied black tea, whilst Lili went for her favourite tea of choice, the smoky and aromatic Lapsang Souchong, served in elegant bone china tea cups and teapots with tea cosies hand-knitted by Adam’s mum.
Our stunning display of afternoon tea treats were then swiftly brought over to our table, served on a non-traditional, bespoke gold tree stand, an homage to the nearby Cadogan Gardens. We were informed that the scones would be brought out separately upon request, which in my opinion is always the ideal way to serve them so that you can savour them whilst they are still warm without having to rush through the rest of the food.
I have mentioned before about how much I love places that go the extra mile to include additional savouries in their afternoon tea menu, alongside the selection of traditional sandwiches. The savouries included Mrs Kirkham’s cheddar tart that had a lovely, buttery pastry base and the creamiest filling to match, a mini chicken lattice with caramelise shallots, a salt cod croquette that was crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, served with tartare sauce, and dainty choux buns filled with a silky liver parfait.
The selection of traditional sandwiches included their takes on the classics:
Roasted chicken, tarragon mustard mayonnaise, smoked garlic and tomato jam on onion bread
The Valley Smokehouse smoked salmon, dill creme fraiche, rocket on caraway bread
English pickled cucumber, cream cheese, shallot on white bread
Free range hen’s egg, house-made mayonnaise, mustard cress on rye bread
Rare roast beef, horseradish cream, watercress on malt bread
The smoked salmon sandwich was my favourite as usual, complemented by a hint of aniseed from the caraway bread, whilst Lili was a fan of the humble cucumber sandwich that had a pleasant sweet and tangy taste from the pickling. We were even offered second servings of the sandwiches as well as extra savouries, which was very much appreciated.
Just as we had finished our platter of savouries, we were served a pre-dessert of lemon and elderflower with basil sorbet that was an ideal palate cleanser.
Honouring the building’s historic location on Sloane Street, the selection of sweets have been inspired by the travels of it’s namesake, Sir Hans Sloane – a notable physician, scientist, and collector, remembered for his many voyages across the world where he discovered many exciting flavours and ingredients.
There were some miniature classics which included a traditional check-patterned Battenberg, a tangy lemon drizzle, and a slice of Dundee cake, a traditional Scottish fruit cake with a rich flavour – each one created with family recipes to evoke a feeling of nostalgia. The other more contemporary take on patisseries featured an apple-shaped dessert that balanced the sharpness of Granny Smith apples and Asian flavours of lemongrass, the chocolate shell broke open to reveal a light cremeux filling scattered with juicy bits of apple. There was also a rich and indulgent salted caramel sacher with milk chocolate chantilly, and a white chocolate & raspberry mousse, complemented by the Earl Grey’s floral bergamot flavours tea, topped with an intricate chocolate butterfly.
Last but not least, were the much awaited iconic British staple of any afternoon tea – freshly baked daily, the plain and raisin scones, were light with a crumbly texture, still warm to the touch and accompanied by the classic combination of home-made jam and Cornish clotted cream.
A word of thanks to the wonderful staff at Cadogan’s by Adam Handling for hosting us, and to restaurant manager, Francesco, for keeping baby Amelia entertained!
And if you ever plan to visit in future, don’t forget to pop into the hallway to visit Oscar, the specially commissioned peacock made from 25,000 Swarovski crystals, a tribute to Oscar Wilde who loved peacocks.
Afternoon Tea at Cadogan’s by Adam Handling is priced from £55 and is served daily from 1:30pm to 8:30pm. Guests feeling in a decadent mood can upgrade their experience by including a glass of champagne, and there’s even a free flowing Champagne option! – a truly decadent experience not to be missed out on. And speaking of luxurious experiences, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and the Belmond British Pullman are still yet to be ticked off my list … an aspiration which is hopefully not too far out of reach.
- My afternoon tea experience at Cadogan’s by Adam Handling was complimentary – views and photos are my own.