Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tea for two and two for tea: Espelette at The Connaught review

I have been pondering what makes afternoon tea so blimmin fantastic.  Is it because it's so quintessentially British?  Is it because it's reminiscent of a bygone era?  Perhaps because it feels so civilised to sip tea whilst nibbling on dainty sandwiches?

And then it struck me: afternoon tea adds a whole extra meal to the day's proceedings.  Amazing.
None of this messing around with squashing two meals together (you know who you are, brunch).  Just an extra, cake filled, meal.  What's not to love?

I'd be quite happy to reinstate afternoon tea as a daily affair but sadly it is but an occasional treat.  Most recently enjoyed at Espelette at The Connaught

This is a very 'proper' afternoon tea, with the usual selection of finger sandwiches, scones and delicate cakes all done to an extremely high standard, all graciously replenished if you wish (we did!).  The service is top class and you're well looked after from the moment you enter the door to the moment you're rolled out.

I particularly enjoyed the jam menu.

Yes, you heard me right, a menu.  For jam.  You're able to pick two jams for the table from a selection of 16.  After much deliberation, we plumped for raspberry & violet and rhubarb & vanilla.   The rhubarb jam was exceptional and, somewhat surprisingly to me, went perfectly with the scones and clotted cream.  And those scones - yum, yum, yum.  Plain and ginger scones are served straight from the oven and they were perfect specimens.

The cakes tasted as good as they looked.  The maple syrup and blackcurrant jelly 'religieuse' and the strawberry jelly cheesecake were particularly good.

By the time the final cakes, a raspberry and rose and chocolate loaf cake, were served we were can't-eat-another-mouthful stuffed.  After the beautiful delicacies from the cake stand, these seemed rather plain and probably a little bit superfluous but just a minor quibble.

All this food is washed down with an excellent selection of loose-leaf teas.  Silver needles was my favourite and we were given a complimentary sachet to take home, which was a very nice touch.

All in all, this is a fabulous afternoon tea.  As you might expect, it's not cheap (£35 a head without champagne) but it is an experience.  And one I'd definitely like to repeat in the not too distant future.

Afternoon tea: my favourite of all the meals.

Before we got stuck in

The maple syrup religieuse on the left.  Strawberry cheesecake in the middle.

The first plate of sandwiches.

Perfect scones
Rhubarb jam on the left

Which one will you choose?

The cake that defeated us.

Tea to take away

Espelette at The Connaught  on Urbanspoon


  1. The religieuse is so cute I can't stand it. I want one as a pet.

  2. I know! I almost felt guilty eating it. Almost!


  3. This *almost* makes me homesick. I suspect I'd be snookered on several fronts trying to assemble a latino afternoon tea. Clotted cream is an alien concept, let alone proper tea!x


Thanks very much for stopping by. Always love to hear your comments. c