I hate to break it to you but the festive season is here. So don’t be a bah humbug or a grinch, embrace it as this time of year is so magical and special, it’s worth making the most of.
One of the best things about Christmas = the FOOD!
I tried the Festive Tipsy Afternoon Tea at Sanderson hotel last week. It sure got me feeling a tad more Christmassy, and I can tell you, it pretty much knocked the socks off all other afternoon tea experiences.
Sanderson hotel is not far from Oxford Street, so it’s very central. Perfect for a break from the Christmas shopping 😉
The first thing you notice upon entering are several gorgeous chairs and a very long elegant chaise longue (some great photo opps). The interior is modern, stylish and minimalist, and this follows through to the terrace where we spent the evening.
The outdoor space has a fountain, and throughout the few hours we were outdoors you could hear the running water which was calming and relaxing. It might have been a cold November night, but with the heaters on, and blankets on our chairs for if we got chilly (although not much chance of that), you didn’t notice it was the beginning of Winter.
Warm welcomes, coats delivered to the cloak room and cocktail orders taken as we milled, the waiter looking after all 14 of us was very attentive, knowledgeable and friendly with plenty of cocktail recommendations for when you got overwhelmed at the menu (easily done).
Lucky for me, I was getting to try the festive offering with other influencers so I got to put faces to names (kind of…more voices to faces!) and catch up with a few of the ones I’ve become friends, with whilst enjoying the experience which was really nice.
The Festive Tipsy Tea, themed around the Mad Hatters Tea Party, started with a flight of cocktails – four small, cute drinks including a Pear & Choc Martini with Grey Goose vodka, chocolate bitters and Noilly Prat and a warming Hot Bouquet cocktail on a crisp autumn evening on the courtyard. These were all introduced by the waiter, as he explained what was in each and where to start (the tea of course as to drink it whilst it’s still hot).
The tea, a boozy fruit variety, wasn’t overly sweet, but started the set well. My favourite however were the sweeter options, all very strong but tasty. You can tell why they call it a tipsy tea!
The food was delivered beautifully on a three tiered stand. The top layer was home to a monochrome mug, with ‘grass’ and the Mad Hatters lost carrot and fennel meringues, as well as the rum truffles, Chocolate fudge yule logs and Marshmallow snowmen and Wonderland marshmallow magic mushrooms.
The middle layer featured the savoury options; Stack of King of Hearts ham and parmesan croque-monsieur, Smoked salmon Scotch quails egg with caviar and cream cheese, and White Rabbit wild mushrooms and truffle, parmesan tartlets. Whilst the bottom layer held the Savoury scones with whole seed mustard and mozzarella, served with herb butter, Grey Goose Cherry Noir vodka and cranberry tartlet, Mad March Hare vanilla pocket watch macaroon, Tweedle Dee lemon curd financier, Mocha chessboard gateau and Alice’s naughty anejo hazelnut and Amaretto “Drink Me” potion. A Feast if you ever did see one.
Starting savoury; the King of Hearts ham and parmesan croque-monsieur was just toasted, and perfectly cheesy. A nice change to the usual finger sandwiches. The White Rabbit wild mushrooms and truffle, parmesan tartlets, a crumbly shortcrust pastry with a rich pate like filling, were packed with savoury flavours and went down a little too well too.
The savoury scones were a great alternative to the sweet varieties. With a savoury tooth most often, afternoon teas can be a bit weighted on the sweet side and this balanced it out nicely. Warm, crumbly and buttery, the scones had a subtle cheese taste and were complimented superbly by the creamy herb butter.
Smoked salmon Scotch quails egg with caviar and cream cheese, fancy versions of the popular picnic food, were crispy on the outside and deliciously tender inside – full of flavour and complimented nicely by the cream cheese.
The carrot and fennel meringues were an oddly delicious sweet-savoury experience. A lover of meringues, these cute little bites melted in the mouth, and sure impressed.
Moving on, the sweet treats were all bite-size, giving plenty of option without making you choose between which you could possibly fit in.
The rum truffles were rich in flavour and indulgent, the perfect small boozy mouthful. The Chocolate fudge Yule Log, another perfectly portioned rich, dark sweet treat.
The mocha chessboard gateau was more cream than cake, with a mousse like texture and beautiful coffee chocolate flavour. Definitely moreish.
Grey Goose Cherry Noir vodka and cranberry tartlet, consisted of a thin layer of crumbly sweet shortcrust, encasing a jammy centre. An elegant more beautiful jam tart.
The macaroons melted in your mouth. With a strong vanilla flavouring, the meringue immediately softened and crumbled by the bite. Another of my faves – not too rich, delightfully indulgent.
The Tweedle Dee lemon curd financier was zesty and moist, with an extra zingy curd centre. Refreshing in between the more rich options.
The magic mushroom marshmallows had a strong strawberry flavour, and were almost foamy upon bite. One of my faves. The snowman was bit more vanilla, quite literally, but again a nice break from the rich flavours it accompanied. I do love a marshmallow.
Remembering which sweet I finished with is a tough feat to recall, as I kept taking extra small bites here and there. Mixed with the cocktails, which sure made me tipsy, I don’t know if it might be the Bacardi that’s to blame for the confusion.
For those who fancy staying, there’s an extensive wine and cocktail list, with some great cocktails I highly recommend staying for a VV Voom (Bombay Sapphire gin, parfait amour liqueur, citrus, St Germain elderflower liqueur).
I left full. Very full. And a little tottery. But still more than capable of taking a quick snap in one of the chairs in the lobby. Directed by a couple of the girls as I’m awful at posing.
One amazing evening. Lots of delicious savoury and sweet treats. Fab cocktails.
At £68 per person, it’s not on the low end for an afternoon tea in London, but it’s well worth forking out a little extra. It is Christmas after all. It’d make a fantastic gift experience!
What festive experiences are you treating yourself or loved ones to this year? Have you been to any fab afternoon teas recently?
*I was invited along to try the Festive Tipsy Tea at Sanderson hotel. All view my own.