With shops and restaurants back up and running after the end of yet another lockdown, and with Christmas just less than a month away (!), it was in due course for me to make my festive visits around some of my favourite destinations in London, starting at the famed Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly, who have recently launched their festive afternoon tea.
Served in one of the most stunning venues in London, The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, this is the first time in its history that they are offering a beautifully crafted Festive Afternoon Tea menu. After a memorable first visit in the summer, I was excited to start the festive season on a high with my first festive afternoon tea review this year, and make the most of the last few weeks of 2020.
A historic room which has been through different phases over the last 307 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. 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, The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon truly epitomises the sophistication of Afternoon and High Tea in all its splendour. Divided into three dedicated spaces, this time we were seated in the South Salon, smaller and more intimate than the North Salon, but nonetheless just as beautiful. Classical piano music was playing in the background which is always a nice touch to lift the ambience.
We started with the Lobster Bridge Roll amuse-bouche, accompanied by glasses of chilled Fortnum’s Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru, Hostomme NV. Fortnum undoubtedly have one of the best tea menus which always leaves you spoilt for choice, ranging from their famous and historic house blends to their small-batch rare teas grown in the most exceptional gardens. I previously tried their Jubilee black tea which I really enjoyed, and decided to go for something different this time. From their selection of exclusive Fortnum’s Famous Blends, my attention was drawn towards their most aromatic tea, the Fortmason blend, a harmonious mix of Darjeeling and China teas, which had a beautiful aroma of orange blossom. I also tried the refreshing Earl Grey Classic, their version of the ever-popular blend, created by their tea experts in 1920, some 90 years after Earl Grey’s teatime debut.
This time we opted for one each of the Classic Afternoon Tea and the Savoury Afternoon Tea, so that we could sample the new creations from both options, elegantly served on a traditional three-tiered silver stand.
Both stands came with a delicate selection of classic finger sandwiches which included:
Cucumber with nut brown butter cream cheese
Truffled Cotswold Legbar egg mayonnaise
Fortnum’s smoked salmon with orange caper butter
I can never fault their classic sandwiches, and am particularly fond of their creamy coronation chicken sandwich – their interpretation of the famous Coronation Chicken sandwich, which is a little twist on chef Rosemary Hume’s original 1953 recipe, mixed with plump raisins, sweet mango chutney, and fresh coriander. We were offered a refill of sandwiches which although I was tempted, held back in order to save space for the rest of the tasty delights.
There were two variations of savoury scones served which included a cheddar truckle scone served with truffle mustard butter, and a smoked Dingley Dell ham scone served with Port jelly – I don’t often have savoury scones but have always enjoyed these special offerings at Fortnums.
From the classic tier, we were served not two but four different scones. They included the plain, sultana, cranberry and macerated raisin scones, as well as one with a lovely hint of cinnamon, which certainly appealed to our tastebuds. Serving some of the best scones in London (and beyond), these rich and buttery delights were presented with clotted cream, Fortnum & Mason strawberry preserve, and a tangy lemon curd
The top tier of the afternoon tea savouries all looked and sounded rather intriguing. There was a dainty choux filled with Chalk Stream hot smoked trout & horseradish cream, Dorset crab with cucumber on a puff pastry base, a luxurious duck and pistachio mousse finished off with a vibrant red cognac glaze, a mini venison & apricot sausage roll, and my favourite amongst them, the Stilton & Port cheesecake served in a dainty eggshell cup.
The selection of sweets were equally as impressive, offering a true taste of Fortnum’s Christmas at teatime. Each individual patisserie has been created to celebrate some of our most festive icons, some highlights included a white chocolate Christmas bauble, a red velvet layered cake shaped like a present, and an indulgent chocolate creation presented in the form of a candle.
To finish off, we were offered a slice from their classic cake selection – I tried their chocolate cake and their Battenberg cake on my last visit, so I decided to go for their festive selection this time which was a Christmas style pudding with figs. They also had a Victoria sponge option which looked really good.
The Fortnum’s Afternoon Tea is available daily and is priced from £65 per person, with the option of upgrading to include champagne or other drink options. They also have a vegetarian and gluten-free menu on offer, as well as a high-tea menu which I would love to return to try one day.
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.