The Fresser

Treated royally with tea at the Arch

Sarah Ebner and family sampled a top class afternoon tea in London

July 11, 2017 15:33

Today on the Fresser we have a guest post from JC deputy editor, Sarah Ebner.

Afternoon tea is seen as something quintessentially English – and naturally, being London born, it’s my favourite meal of the day. But it’s also extremely decadent, and definitely something to be taken as a treat, and not a regular occurrence.

So, when my husband turned 50, a tea seemed the perfect way to celebrate, especially as we had marked his 30th with an extravagant tea at the Langham (gulp, 20 years before). All I had to do was find where would suit our family of four, including our two children.

London is awash with delicious sounding teas, all offering their own variations on a theme. When I began looking into the numerous hotels offering these, I was amazed at the number on offer and also the price. I know afternoon tea is delicious, but it is essentially sandwiches, scones and little cakes. The cost was all in a similar range, £45 to £55 a person.

I came across The Arch by chance, when looking online at yet another list of the “top teas in London.” Reviews for the “Royal Afternoon Tea” at this charming hotel, near Marble Arch, were all positive. So, I must admit, was the cost, at £25 a head, although this, without the reviews, would not have encouraged me to look further.

We went ahead and booked, and, as I wanted to be able to eat everything on the menu, I contacted the hotel and asked if we could make sure that there was no meat, gelatine or shellfish on the menu (which generally includes chicken and ham sandwiches and cheesecake and trifle on its afternoon tea offering). They couldn’t have been more helpful.

We got to The Arch at 3pm to be greeted by friendly and helpful staff and were seated in a booth in the Salon de Champagne. Our booth had its own transparent curtain you could pull round for privacy. It was perfect for our family.

We were given a tea menu to peruse (very smart), and took our time as the offerings were so impressive. In the end, we all chose different teas. My daughter went for a silver needle white tea and later a green tea with jasmine pearls, my son for blackcurrant and hibiscus (which he loved so much that he had a second pot of it later on), my husband for Earl Grey and me for green tea with Moroccan Mint. My son also asked for a hot chocolate and declared it one of the best he’d ever had.

The sandwiches are all freshly made, so there was a small wait before we got our food. However, it was well worth it. Presented beautifully, we were given a range of sandwiches (English cheddar with apple chutney, mozzarella and avocado with sun blushed tomato on sour dough toast, smoked salmon and cream cheese on a blini, egg and cress and cucumber and cream cheese). All of these were delicious, especially the sourdough toast and English cheddar. And yes, it was possible to get replacements when we gobbled our way through them.

The scones – fruit and plain – were also delicious and came served with clotted cream and jam. But I think I was even more taken with the cakes – all gelatine free – which were fabulous. My husband and son particularly liked the Battenberg, while I was very taken with the millionaire’s shortbread and the most wonderful strawberry and lemon tart.

We stayed at the hotel for around two hours and had a terrific time. I can’t imagine how a tea at any other London hotel could be any better, either in terms of service, or food. And we were so full that we didn’t even have any supper. A definite seal of approval!

You can see the afternoon tea menu here, but remember you can also ask for alternatives which don't include any meat or animal fats...


July 11, 2017 15:33

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