Indeed, the Langham was London’s first purpose built Grand Hotel and opened in 1865.
But that’s not all, it’s also referred as the place where the tradition of Afternoon tea was born!
I booked a table for 16:00, not too early to enjoy the already too short days but not too late to be able to last with only a big breakfast in the stomach. But there are 4 other seatings: 12:00 – 13:30 – 14:30 and 17:30.
We arrived a bit earlier and were directly seated in The Palm Court.
I expected something more magnificent and was a bit disappointed by the room. First, there were no palm trees. Second, I found the decoration cold. Third, the tables were too close from each other. And finally, some tables (including ours) even had a “wonderful” view over Portland Place, the Palm Court being located straight in front of the main entrance. Sure, it only was if we turned our head to one side, but it wasn’t very relaxing.
But our table was also located near the piano, which compensated the inconvenience.
When I looked at the menu, I was surprised to see that only one Afternoon tea was offered ” The Langham Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood”. At the time I booked, 2 choices were proposed: “The Wonderland Afternoon Tea” and “The Bijoux Afternoon Tea”.
At least, it made our choice easier!
For the tea, I chose the Silk Road blend, a Langham blend composed of the finest Chinese Silver Needle white tea that has been dried with aromatic jasmine flowers and combined with delicate pink whole Iranian rosebuds.
The tea came first.
It was followed by an amuse bouche: a red pepper crème brûlée with pine nuts.
Then, it was time for the serious business to start and I was confused when the waiter came with a selection of sandwiches on a plater.
I expected the finger sandwiches, the scones and the pastries to be put on the tier stand that stood next to the table, the table itself being to small. I really like to have everything on display, I find it very beautiful and appetizing. Moreover, it allows the guests to eat at their own pace and to not have to wait for the waiter to clear the table and come back with what to follow. But I have to admit that there is a disadvantage proceeding this way: the scones don’t stay warm.
As you can see, the picture on the Langham’s website reflects how I expected the Afternoon tea to be served but not how it is actually served.
I took one of each finger sandwich offered, from the left to the right:
-Burford brown free-range egg and mustard cress
-Corn-fed chicken with tarragon mustard and plum tomato
-London cured smoked salmon with whipped brie and rocket in a betroot bread
-Cucumber with cream cheese and chives
-Smoked mountain ham with Comté cheese and white truffle oil
There were all good. When we had finished, the waiter asked us if we wanted some more but we declined as there was still a lot to come.
Then, we were served slightly warm scones of 2 kinds: plain and with raisins, accompanied with Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry preserve.
The scones were excellent but too small or not enough.
This time, when the waiter asked us if we wanted some more, we accepted and were brought 4 extra scones. However, we couldn’t finish the last one.
It was finally the time for the cakes. And it was a huge disappointment because the selection was to share! I like when each guest has his own cakes, I love cakes too much to share them.
But it was also the biggest satisfaction as I have never seen cakes so well presented and refined in an Afternoon tea before! Each of them was a piece of art, almost to beautiful to be eaten.
We owe this wonderful work to the Pastry Chef Cherish Finden, who was voted UK Pastry Chef of the Year in 2012 and it’s easy to understand why!
There were 5 different pastries:
-a Kouglof composed of 64% chocolate, raspberry and light roasted pistachio financier.
-a Wedgwood Tea cup composed of white chocolate mousse, tropical jelly and dark chocolate sablé
-a White Cameo on Blue, strawberry and white balsamic Victoria sponge
-a Daisy Teapot, cinnamon, shortbread cookie
-a Hartway Rose Motif, English rose and lychee log
All the cakes were as excellent as they looked!
I was very impressed by the cameo, made of sugar. It was perfect!, a pure jewel!
Once again, the waiter came to ask us if we would like to have another cake. But we declined, we were full and it would have been to difficult to select only one!
Suddenly, the pianist started playing “Happy birthday to you” and my father was a bit confused when the waiter came to our table with a birthday cake. He didn’t expect it because his birthday was 4 days before. To my defense, when I booked, I didn’t say that it was for his birthday but I said that it was part of his birthday celebration, which was true. Tricky girl!
Our experience didn’t start very well but finished in apotheosis. I will never forget these cakes. If you’re a cake lover, don’t look further and book an Afternoon tea at The Langham as soon as possible.
The Langham London
1c Portland Place
London W1B 1JA