The City of London is an area that I love to frequent often, brimming with history and beautiful architecture, whose streets I have explored and wandered round many a time. It was sometime in the summer when I first discovered Vintry & Mercer, mainly by coincidence when we were looking for an Asian restaurant in the area and came across Vintry Izakaya, and have been wanting to head back every since – an invitation to review their afternoon tea was the perfect opportunity to revisit this lovely venue.
Nestled at the heart of the City, Vintry & Mercer is a hidden gem, tucked away amongst the livery halls and narrow streets that line the banks of the Thames, taking inspiration from the rich cultural influences of the historic trading guilds of the area. Vintry was the centre for London wine merchants; Mercer was for noble textile sellers who specialised in fine silks and damasks – their history continues to persevere in the narrow streets nearby. A boutique hotel that is designed to connect guests to the unique story of the City’s past, this now extends to its new Guilds of the City Afternoon Tea, which takes guests on a journey through the area’s rich trading history.

As we ascended the lift to the 7th floor, we arrived at the Mercer Roof Terrace which had a warm and welcoming vibe, the ambience enhanced by the green foliage features. Through their floor-to-ceiling glass doors, we were met with an impressive view of the London skyline, from the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral to the glass tip of The Shard in the distance. Natural light flooded in and illuminated the space, and we sat by the window to make the most of the view.

The Guilds of the City Afternoon Tea takes inspiration from the historic trades, guilds and the great fire of London that started nearby, the themes recreated into a selection of pastries, served alongside home-made scones and savouries. We both opted for the Guilds of the City Tea Pot-Tails which comes with a choice of cocktail – the Cooper, made with Portobello gin, camomile & thyme, Knightor Vermouth, and Mandarin saccharum was citrus-y and refreshing, whilst the Apothecary was an equally tasty sweeter option, made with Zubrowska vodka, Merlot, blackberries & muddled orange.

Their tea selection is provided by JING Tea – I really enjoyed the Genmaicha, literally translated as ‘brown rice and tea’, a Japanese green tea from the fertile, volcanic soil of Shizuoka, blended with roasted and popped rice, giving it a lovely nutty and aromatic taste.

Before the arrival of our afternoon tea tier, we were first served the Great Fire of London, presented in the shape of a candle complete with a lit up wick – we enjoyed the added touch of theatrical flair from the small fog effect that was created from the use of dry ice. The white chocolate shell cut open to reveal a moist Kirsch socked chocolate sponge layered with milk chocolate ganache and cherries – a delightful and surprising start to an afternoon tea experience like no other.

There was a trio of neatly handcut sandwiches accompanied by a couple of intriguing savoury treats. The sandwiches included:

Roasted beef with horseradish & rosemary butter on granary bread
Egg mayonnaise with watercress salad on herb bread
Scottish smoked salmon with caper and parsley butter on black rye bread

The humble egg mayonnaise sandwich was probably my favourite amongst the three, the flavours enhance by the aromatic herbs. I was particularly keen on the duo of savouries on the side: a mini crumpet topped with a luscious Cheddar cheese and spring onion spread, and silver tin cans that opened up to reveal a sumptuous tuna tartar with lemon crème fraîche, that was enjoyed with slices of toasted brioche.

The handmade scones tasted just as good as they looked, served plain and another with white chocolate & cranberries, a joy to eat with a dollop of Devonshire clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam.

Each and every one of the sweet pastries looked really pretty and intricate that we couldn’t wait to dive into them. They included:

Mercer – salted caramel mousse with passionfruit jelly and chocolate feuilletine
Goldsmith – dark chocolate bar filled with crispy pearls, coffee crunch and mousseline cream
Vintner – dark chocolate barrel filled with Bourbon & orange
Fruiterer – apple mousse & apple gelée
Baker – cannelé with lemon drizzle

All of them as pleasing to the eye as they were as tantalizing to our tastebuds, the Mercer was probably my favourite, complete with a hat and miniature scissors and moustache. One hat had a little scroll tucked into it: ‘The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker … who started the Great Fire of London?’.

The Guilds of the City Afternoon Tea can be enjoyed on its own (£39.50 per person) or with a glass of Champagne or matching cocktails (£49.50 per person), and is served every Saturday and Sunday from 2:00pm to 5:30pm. Already good value for money compared to many other venues of similar standard, for a limited time only, Vintry & Mercer is offering 25% off its Guilds of the City Afternoon Tea until the end of December 2019.

  • My Guilds of the City Afternoon Tea experience at Vintry & Mercer was complimentary – views and photos are my own.

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