Sugar and spice. Magic words whem everyone around is talking about dropping temperatures. Add to this the elegant atmosphere of One Aldwych with its amazing flower arrangements, sculptural, its collection of art work, the light flowing through the wide windows, allowing you to people watch at the same time while you are sipping on a cup of tea and indulging…
The afternoon tea starts with a glass of mulled wine, oh so refined and velvety. A dance of spiced tannins, citrus notes, such a beautiful ballets on the tastebuds, so warming too. An ode to winter, a charm against the frost, a formula to melt snowflakes in a smile. Or would you rather have something sparkly? Try this cocktail playing on two levels, the cheerfulness of champagne, the sweetness of orange, the cinnamon making you want just a little bit more, leaving a sugary gloss on your lips. Sit back, sigh, relax…
Then appears a three-level-cascade of savory and sweet treats. One look at the dessert plate and it will take all your will to be good and do this in the proper order. The salted part is worth taking your time, the chef has put a special focus on this, wanting each bite to be festive. Tasty chipolatas wrapped in bacon, seasonal sandwiches (those offered melt-in-the-mouth smoked salmon-mustard-dill bread and turkey, fragrant stuffing and gorgeous cranberry sauce), brioche bun filled with creamy egg, mayonnaise and watercress… And oh, my favourite: perfect rectangular quiches, crunchy pastry, splendid stilton and walnut mix, so unusual, terribly addictive. The waitress very kindly reoffered to replenish the selection if we wanted. But there was so much still to try!
The very must in an afternoon tea – scones of course. Served still warm, of course, as they should be, with a biscuit quality on the outside, so moist and tender at heart. Ah, such a pleasure to open one, add a spoonful of clotted cream, admire the contrast with homemade, poetic, sun-filled plum jam. Still in the idea of British quintessence, mini-crumpets have been added as well as tangy, gold coloured lemon curd. Add to this a steaming teapot of Lapsang Souchong and the place feels as cozy as a cottage in the Cotswold. Scones and crumpets always have a heart-warming quality, don’t they?
I hope you did keep a space for the sweet conclusion. Quite a feast, too. Mince pies are topped with crumble pastry, just the perfect crunch effect. Truffles were wrapped in winter spices and almond. Even gingerbread took a new refinement with divine eggnog mousse - to die for. I was particularly taken with the chestnut delice, married with a ganache, so supple on the tastebud, a new take on the marron glacé (and as you can notice they had no time to be photographed. They kind of disappeared within the minute). Last but not least: the mandarin trifle, with its vanilla cream and layer of fruit, tangy, such a beautiful marriage…
To perfect the experience, One Aldwych proposes a Very Valentino afternoon tea, which includes a ticket to the Very Valentino exhibition at the nearby Somerset House. More than just a treat, a whole experience! Perfect as a romantic afternoon (Valentine’s day is around the corner. Just saying) or even as girlie afternoon (cocktail, cakes and fashion: know any better combination?)!
Sugar and spice afternoon tea - £26.50
Sugar and spice afternoon tea with orange, cinnamon and champagne cocktail £35
Very Valentino afternoon tea – £55