Almost a year since my luxurious staycation at The Londoner, I recently returned to step into the limelight of The Stage. Not to perform on an actual stage (thank God), but rather to indulge in their Champagne afternoon tea at one of several chic restaurants located within this impressive establishment, where the drama unfolds with a spectacular programme set across three acts, dedicated to Champagne and life’s great delights – just what weekends were made for. Setting the scene was a live musician who played on The Stage’s grand piano whilst singing some old classics.
We both opted for the Rosé Champagne Afternoon Tea; a Champagne trolley swiftly wheeled towards our table where a bottle of Billetcart-Salmon Brut Rosé was then presented to us before being freshly uncorked to fill our glasses with an enticing pale pink Champagne, made from an elegant blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.
To complement our afternoon tea experience was a selection of the finest teas from The East India Company. I’m often partial towards an Earl Grey and started with The Staunton Earl Grey, an aromatic Sri Lankan black tea based on an authentic 18th century Chinese recipe observed by The East India Company’s botanist Sir George Staunton which blends the best Neroli and Bergamot oils. Our pots of teas were accompanied by a miniature trio of hourglass tea-timers to ensure that our teas were brewed to perfection before drinking. The amuse-bouche du jour was a welcomed treat; a refreshing marinated cucumber roll, elderflower sorbet drizzled with manuka honey, white chocolate powder, and a zingy yuzu caviar.
The sandwiches were served on a small yet functional marble stand, each one cut to precision into dainty bite-sized squares:
Smoked salmon and Devon crab with yuzu kosho crème fraîche on granary bread
Lemon roasted Norfolk chicken with truffle mayonnaise on basil-and-spinach-infused bread
Tea-smoked cured beef with watercress and horseradish crème on brioche
Clarence Court duck egg with spiced Peppadew mayonnaise on sourdough
Baby cucumber with lemon tahini labneh on white bread
This was followed by freshly baked plain and sultana scones from The Londoner bakery, wrapped up warm and snug inside a crisp white napkin, served with Cornish clotted cream, homemade strawberry preserve and bergamot curd. The scones were golden and buttery with just the right level of flakiness – I tend to only have one scone in each afternoon sitting, but these weren’t overly heavy like most that I managed to devour both without feeling too bloated after. With still plenty of room for the sweet patisseries, of course.
We were then invited to select two artisanal delicacies each from the trolley. The Victoria Slice was presented in the style of a classic finger sandwich with a raspberry and hibiscus compôte, Valrhona Dulcey cream and raspberry chocolate. The Caviar was crafted to illustrate a traditional caviar tin, each element completely edible; the tin made from a spiced biscuit and chocolate which contained a Tahitian vanilla and jasmine tea crème centre topped with wild strawberry, complete with a strawberry chocolate spoon. The ornate English Rose pays tribute to the national flower of England, made with fresh raspberry and lychee with shortbread and almond detailing, an eye-catching patisserie that draws inspiration from low poly design and faceted artwork. Last but not least was the Black Truffle, an illusion dessert which appeared to look like the exclusive Périgord, reimagined with milk chocolate and caramel mousse, hazelnut dacquoise, praline crisp and black truffle and salted caramel marmalade. I enjoyed this with a fresh pot of Li Shan which also had hints of floral notes, Taiwan’s most celebrated oolong tea which is only produced twice a year in very small quantities.
Afternoon Tea at The Stage is available 12:00-4:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Prices start from £55 per person, with a variety of options to upgrade to include Champagne.
Further information on the full menu and reservations can be found on their website.
- My afternoon tea experience was complimentary – views and photos are my own.