It seemed not so long ago since I was tucking into a miniature Fendi handbag and deconstructing a Gucci-inspired red velvet and mascarpone mousse from their Autumn/Winter 2021 Collection, but I always look forward to returning to The Berkeley; their seasonal Prêt-à-Portea menus one of the top things that I look forward to with the change in seasons.
Arriving fashionably late to the party, I made it just in time to sample their Platinum Jubilee edition Prêt-à-Portea, served for a limited time only and featured three special creations, each of which represented one of Her Majesty The Queen’s most iconic fashion signatures.
The corner table in the extended glass pavilion of the Collins Room is a favourite spot of mine, beautifully illuminated by natural light that shines through the intricate honeycomb detailing of their creatively constructed floor to ceiling glass panels. Keeping with tradition, we began with glasses of chilled Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé, followed by freshly brewed teas from their extensive selection of loose-leaf teas, served in their signature couture china tea set, made exclusively for The Berkeley by Bernardaud – I started with the pan fired Dragon Well which has a unique nutty flavour that is meant to pair well with the sandwiches and savoury treats.
We also tried their limited edition Super bloom cocktail, named after the flower installation at the Tower of London for the Jubilee; a refreshing blend of non-alcoholic gin and Earl grey (the queen’s favourite) with sweet violette bitters and topped with Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé.
The first course was a selection of The Berkeley tea sandwiches which included:
Roast corn fed chicken, basil, parmesan & mustard mayonnaise, lettuce on rye bread
Home smoked & cured Scottish salmon, sundried tomato mayo, beef heart tomatoes, watercress on onion bread
Boursin brown butter cream, cucumber, French sorrel on pain de mie
Peppered pastrami, smoked mustard mayonnaise, rocket, Snowdonia cheddar on malt brown
Burford brown hen’s egg mayonnaise, mustard cress on white bread
Their seasonal savoury treats are always one of the highlights for me. This time we enjoyed a delicious morsel of charred & smoked duck breast served on top of a laminated brioche, and a heritage tomato tartare that was finished at the table with a chilled white asparagus velouté – perfect for the warmer summer months.
The Berkeley also does some of the best scones, which although are not part of the Prêt-à-Portea menu, are definitely worth ordering. Light and fluffy as I usually prefer them to be, the perfectly formed scones were served warm with clotted cream and strawberry/raspberry preserves.
Our final course soon arrived on a silver tiered stand, the top tier featured The Royal Editions; a trio of intricately designed creations in celebration of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The first was a tangy lime cheesecake and almond sponge with a fresh lemon compote centre, crafted into the shape of a hat to depict one of the Queen’s most summery hats, presented in a vibrant shade of green and finished with a flowery garnish. The second was an homage to the British label Launer London which has long been Her Majesty’s handbag brand of choice; a blueberry Victoria sponge iced with mirroir glaze and sandwiched with ivoire chocolate, coloured in a striking shade of blue. And not forgetting the most famous royal accessory, their vanilla biscuit was aptly made into the shape of a crown, iced with burgundy, red and white royal icing.
From their latest Spring/Summer 2022 Prêt-à-Portea collection was another selection of delectable delights, inspired by the new season catwalk. Summer is certainly the season for ice cream, and paying tribute to Richard Quinn’s buttercup yellow gown was a miniature chocolate wafer cone filled with fresh fruit compote and a star anise & pineapple sorbet, topped with bright yellow chocolate waves. The couture creation which takes inspiration from Schiaparelli’s couture golden mini dress was a combination of dark Valrhona 72% dark chocolate and hazelnut praline à l’ancienne, with caramel sponge, topped with a shimmering golden chocolate funnel.
One of my favourites was Gucci’s pink silk tuxedo, which was cleverly recreated into an edible version made from a bourbon vanilla mousse and Emmanuel sponge, layered with a peach compote and glazed with shimmering pink icing, complete with a thin chocolate jacket and bow tie details.
Last but not least, this season’s showstopping cake, designed to share, was an oversized red rose made of a light lychee mousse with a fresh raspberry insert set on a glossy white coconut cake, finished with a green chocolate leaf, representing Saint Laurent’s floral jumpsuit. I have often enjoyed the flavours of lychee and coconut individually but never together, and this could possibly be my new flavour combination.
The Platinum Jubilee Edition may have ended, but their full Spring/Summer 2022 Prêt-à-Portea collection is certainly one not to miss, featuring fashionable edible designs along the likes of Lanvin, Oscar de la Renta, and Michael Kors. Each statement piece is an expression of talented Head Pastry Chef, Mourad Khiat, who draws inspiration from catwalk collections from around the world, balancing beautiful flavours that make each masterpiece as appealing to the tastebuds as they are to the eye.
Prêt-à-Portea is served daily from 1pm – 5.30pm, with prices starting from £64 per person – more information may be found on their website via this link.
- My Prêt-à-Portea experience at The Berkeley was complimentary – views and photos are my own.