Whenever I’m asked for afternoon tea recommendations in London, Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley undoubtedly comes up amongst my top five favourites, which was also recently awarded the much deserved title of Best Themed Afternoon Tea at the Afternoon Tea Awards 2023.
The corner table in the extended glass pavilion of the Collins Room was ready for our arrival as always, with plenty of natural light illuminating the elegant space. We were attended to by the lovely Jonas that day who welcomed us with glasses of chilled Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé.
Having tried a variety of freshly brewed teas from their extensive selection of loose-leaf teas, I circled back to one of my favourite black teas, the fragrant Darjeeling 2nd flush, which encapsulates the best of the summer season of this famous region, served in their signature couture china tea set, made exclusively for The Berkeley by Bernardaud.
Their contemporary canapés are always the perfect opening course to whet our appetites; a silky smooth kohlrabi velouté with carrot and pear pearls, charred corn, grape gel, frozen raspberries, and butterfly sorrel, as well as moreish crab gougères with saffron aioli, saffron tuile, and pomegranate pearls. Given a fresh seasonal twist was a selection of delicately hand cut tea sandwiches which included:
Roast corn fed chicken, Romaine lettuce, Japanese mayonnaise, home-made slaw on onion bread
Hen’s egg, sweet paprika mayonnaise, red spinach on spinach bread
Poached Scottish salmon, caper and lemon emulsion, sorrel on beetroot bread
Beef brisket, smoked Applewood cheddar, mustard mayonnaise, pickle on granary bread
Cucumber, dill and jalapeño cream cheese on white bread
Although not part of their Prêt-à-Portea menu, we were also offered the option to try their scones, which of course we could not decline. As a self-proclaimed scone connoisseur, I would highly recommend ordering a couple to try: light and buttery as I like them, their classic plain and raisin scones were served warm with clotted cream and strawberry/raspberry preserves.
Striding onto the cakewalk for Spring/Summer 2023, this season’s Prêt-à-Portea features a fresh bold and vibrant collection, our eyes immediately captivated by the colourful ensemble inspired by Moschino, made with tropical mousse with a banana and passion fruit centre, set on Sablé Breton biscuit and finished with a meringue flamingo. A dainty edible version of Hermès’ tasselled bucket bag has been crafted out of Victoria sponge, sandwiched with apricot jam, wrapped in chocolate, and finished with a chocolate feather plume.
Loewe’s viral Anthurium dress of Paris Fashion Week has been reimagined with Sacher sponge, espresso caramel and Valrhona 70% chocolate mousse, set on a croustillant base and topped with a chocolate flower. Honouring the late and great Vivienne Westwood, The Berkeley pastry team pays a heartfelt homage with an intricately iced Madagascar vanilla biscuit portrait, complete with iconic red hair.
Making their debuts in Prêt-à-Portea this season are Zimmermann, known for their playful style, and US label Thom Browne. Zimmerman’s striped co-ord has been given a fun twist in the form of a cylinder of joconde sponge, filled with blueberry bavarois, topped with a chocolate skirt and wafer thin biscuit legs, akimbo. Thom Browne’s avant-garde look is a fraise des bois tart with strawberry crémeux, topped with a lime and mint truffle and red chocolate hat.
Shining a spotlight on spring flavours and summer tones, this season’s showstopper takes inspiration from Kenzo with a cake designed to share – a velvety citrus cream with lemon confit and coconut gel, set on a Sablé biscuit base and topped with sugar flowers.
Prêt-à-Portea is served daily from 1pm – 5.30pm, with prices starting from £80 per person – more information can be found on their website via this link.
- My Prêt-à-Portea experience at The Berkeley was complimentary – views and photos are my own.