After a rather fashionable start at The Berkeley to kick off my Festive Edition series of afternoon teas, I of course couldn’t miss out on a visit to their sister hotel, The Connaught, in the heart of Mayfair. Gracing the front of this luxurious establishment this year is a magnificent 9m tall British sourced Nordmann Fir tree, designed by friends of the hotel, influential London-based artist duo Annie Morris and Idris Khan OBE, recently unveiled during their annual Christmas light switch-on which marked the start of the festive season on Mount Street.
Although it has been a good couple of years since my last visit, there was definitely a sense of familiarity as we walked through the front revolving doors and entered the restaurant, Jean-Georges at The Connaught. Exceptionally busier than I was expecting for a weekday afternoon, the space was wonderfully lit by natural light coming through the wall-to-ceiling windows, aesthetically enhanced by a series of stained-glass accents by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel; shades of red, orange and yellow representing the different stages of the day, from sunrise in the east to sunset in the west. Blessed with glorious autumn sunshine that day, a coveted table by the window had been kindly reserved for us, the Christmas tree outside the perfect backdrop for some fun, festive photos to complement our afternoon tea experience.
A contemporary and playful twist on the great British tradition, the menu, like many establishments, has been given a refresh in celebration of the festive season. Leaving our tea-pairing decisions in the trustworthy hands of the skilled waiters, our glasses were filled with Laurent-Perrier Rosé NV Champagne, which we enjoyed alongside a pre-afternoon tea bite; dainty truffle & Comté cheese profiteroles served on fresh pine leaves.
We began with delicately hand-cut finger sandwiches which included:
Cucumber with greek yogurt & lime mint
Truffle egg & truffle mayonnaise
Scottish smoked salmon with avocado & wasabi, yakitori glaze & seaweed butter
Roast turkey & chestnut with butternut squash, chestnut mayonnaise & herb butter
Spiced fig & goat’s curd with candied orange
My favourite had to be the smoked salmon, closely followed by the truffle egg mayonnaise. With these we were served our first tea-pairing selection, the Jade Sword Organic, a light green tea from China which had a subtle hint of sweetness.
Instead of a traditional three-tiered silver stand, the rest of our afternoon tea courses were served on a four-tiered gold stand. Starting from the bottom so that we could savour them whilst they were still warm from the oven, we tucked into the home-made plain and wholemeal raisin scones, beautifully golden and fluffy, accompanied by strawberry jam, spiced orange marmalade, and Cornish clotted cream. To pair with the scones and sweet pastries, we were served fresh pots of Darjeeling Second Flush.
Like miniature pieces of edible art, the pastries were intricately crafted, the colours and flavours certainly a befitting representation of Christmas. There was a rich Christmas Log made with 70% spiced dark chocolate crémeux & caramelised dried nuts, a candied nut & honey mousse almond sponge with candied ginger, a white chocolate & coconut ganache macadamia sponge with roasted macadamia, an almond tart with blackberry cream & chestnut purée, and an orange mousse with hazelnut praline presented in the shape of an orange on a buttery cinnamon shortbread. As per their festive afternoon tea tradition, we finished with cute gingerbread man biscuits which were served with a luscious chocolate fondue dipping bowl.
As our final tea-pairing, we were served an aromatic lemongrass & ginger tea which was refreshing and great for digestion after. Before we left we were also each given little takeaway boxes that contained a spiced orange cake which was lovely and moist.
The Festive Afternoon Tea will be exclusively available from 24th November 2021 to 3rd January 2022, priced from £75.00 per person. Further information on bookings can be found on their website.
- My afternoon tea experience at The Connaught was complimentary – views and photos are my own.