One of my favourite venues in London for afternoon tea, I was delighted to return to The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly to experience their newly launched spring/summer menu. A historic room which has been through different phases over the last 313 years, The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon began as an apartment for the Fortnum family, before being turned into an interior decorating department in the 1920s and 1930s, an antiques department and a restaurant, and today pays homage to the timeless tradition of Afternoon Tea.
The epitome of luxury and sophistication, The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon was named in honour of Her Majesty’s visit in 2012, when she formally opened the room, in the company of their Royal Highnesses the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge. In the foyer of the fourth floor, a classical pianist played on the grand piano, golden butterfly-like features hung above, suspended from the ceiling. The space is divided into three dedicated spaces, and we were once again seated in the smaller and more intimate South Salon.
As I flipped through the pages of the menu, I came across an excerpt which stated that ‘Afternoon Tea is always a celebration and life is always better with bubbles’, which I whole-heartedly agree upon and put into practise regularly. We began with glasses of Rosé Champagne before sipping on freshly brewed pots of tea – we both went for the Countess Grey, a subtle twist on the classic Earl Grey, with sweet notes of orange citrus. To whet our appetites before the main event, we were served an amuse bouche of asparagus, pea shoots & mint pesto.
Undecided between the sweet and savoury menus, we decided to order one of each so that we could sample both menus. Both tiers were served with the same selection of finger sandwiches which consisted of the classics, such as Suffolk cured ham with piccalilli, cucumber with mint cream cheese, Legbar blue hen’s egg mayonnaise with watercress, Fortnum’s smoked salmon with samphire, and Coronation chicken. I resisted the temptation of ordering more sandwiches this time as I was eager to proceed on to devouring the golden, buttery scones.
Starting with the savoury scones, there was a courgette & thyme scone with whipped ricotta, and a Portland crab scone with a white crab & apple mayonnaise dip, which was absolutely divine.
The traditional scones included plain & fruit scones, on which we piled on with generous dollops of Fortnum & Mason strawberry preserve, lemon curd & clotted cream. All the scones were delicious in their own way, but as much of a sweet-tooth that I am, my favourite was surprisingly the savoury courgette & thyme scone, of which we were kindly served extra portions of upon request.
Having finished my first pot of tea, I requested for a fresh pot of Lapsang Souchong which is one of my favourite teas, known for its unmistakably smoky flavour.
On the top tier of the savoury stand was a variety of savoury patisseries which included a mini quail Scotch egg with curry mayonnaise, a smoked trout mousse topped with almonds & rich, bright orange Keta caviar, and a country terrine. Another new summer addition was the green-hued Ragstone goats cheese with grape & walnut, that had a luscious creamy texture and was served on a buttery biscuit base, inspired by the flavours of a classic British cheeseboard. Unfamiliar with the dish Oeufs Drumkilbo, I did a bit of reading after and found out that it is a quintessentially British dish, essentially consisting of a decadent shellfish cocktail with chopped egg and Sherry jelly, reportedly one of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s favourite dishes. Well if it’s good enough for The Queen, it’s certainly good enough for me.
Soldiering on like true foodies, we eventually made it to the top tier of sweet patisseries, often my favourite part of afternoon teas, the delicate delights having been given a summer refresh since my last visit. There was a dainty éclair, filled with a silky and aromatic crème diplomat infused with rose & violet essences, encased within a light choux pastry and finished with a pale pink fondant icing and rose petal. The flower tart was a combination of blackcurrant curd, raspberry preserve and a ganache made with Opalys, a milky and delicate white chocolate. Another eye-catching dessert was the elderflower, yuzu & matcha Opera cake, made with twenty (!) different ingredients, topped with a vibrant emerald-green ganache. Towering over the other sweet treats was a Brandy Snap Eton Mess which is a definitive British summertime dessert. My favourite amongst them was the beautifully-formed Caramelia & Mango Mousse, which consisted of a light caramel mousse on a buttery biscuit base, finished off with a zesty mango glaze and a gold leaf for that elegant touch of luxury.
To top off the experience, we were also offered more treats from their cake trolley – there were three different types on offer that day and we went for the strawberry tart and matcha Mille Crepe cake. After all, you can never have too much cake.
The Fortnum’s Afternoon Tea is available daily and is priced from £62.50 per person, with the option of upgrading to include champagne or other drink options. They also have a vegetarian, gluten-free, and high-tea menu on offer.Reservations can be made via their website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- My afternoon tea experience at Fortnum & Mason Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon was complimentary – views and photos are my own.