For those in the know, it’s now de rigueur to opt for afternoon tea over lunch for business meetings – it’s both less formal and less expensive. Everybody knows establishments like The Wolseley, The Ritz and The Langham but if you want to impress your clients or colleagues with something more off the beaten path, try some of these great alternatives.
The newest opening is the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, launched in honour of the Queen at Fortnum & Mason, which comprises of a tea tasting room and restaurant offering 150 varieties from around the globe. For something less formal and more cutting edge, Nobu Berkeley (pictured below) reminds us that the Japanese also have a great interest in tea, with their nuanced interpretation of the traditional British pastime. The kitchen has devised a menu of dreamy dishes like Takoyaki and smoked salmon sashimi with wasabi sour cream, paired with speciality teas including Japanese matcha and Nobu green tea.
For an experience that truly takes you through the looking glass, opt for the Mad Hatter’s Tea at Sanderson, where your senses will be shocked and stimulated by a symphony of molecular gastronomy. Sweet tooth satisfaction is on offer at The Halkin, where they’ve enlisted the help from “Britain’s Best Chocolatier” Wiliam Curley to create an afternoon tea menu worthy of Willy Wonka’s envy. If fashion is more your cup of tea, choose The Berkeley’s Prêt-à-Portea, which offers cakes and pastries modelled after the latest designer desirables from the likes of Valentino and Stella McCartney. If, on the other hand, you want a testosterone-driven afternoon tea worthy of Keith Richards, Sanctum Soho offers the opportunity to indulge in an artery-clenching spread of red meat, hard liquor and premium cigars. Sketch is already known for its baroque afternoon tea in their Parlour but following their beautiful arboreal decoupage redesign by artists Carolyn Quartermaine and Didier Mahieu in The Glade, they are now serving a luxury afternoon tea there, with dishes offering flavourful twists on old favourites.
L’Atelier du Joel Robuchon offers delicate French pastries paired with their selection of the finest loose leaf teas or coffees. The Jubilee tea mania reached new heights with The City’s Vertigo42 introducing their excellently named “High Tea” where you could sip and sup whilst watching the River Pageant float by. Tim Badham is the founder of Innerplace, London’s leading entertainment concierge service. www.innerplace.co.uk.