Had Afternoon Tea at The Athenaeum – they’re celebrating the first anniversary of the hotel’s living wall – a vertical garden. At £27.50 for Afternoon Tea and a glass of Kir Royal (if booked via toptable), this is a lot cheaper than the fabulous Pret a Portea at The Berkeley my favorite afternoon tea venue. To be honest though I have to say that the Athenaeums Afternoon Tea it is not in the same league as the Pret a Portea. However it is still a better than average venue to experience a typical English Afternoon Tea.
Included in the Afternoon Tea is your choice of teas, 2 rounds of sandwiches, 2 small scones, 3 items from the cake trolley and just when you think it is all over, Crumpets or Tea cakes. Rather strangely we had lots of jam for the Crumpets and Tea cakes, when we did not need it, and not enough for the scones. You may also find if you like stronger tea, that you need to ask for it, as the tea can be quite weak.
A friend reserved a table for the Pret a Portea at The Berkeley – the famous fashionista’s afternoon tea. Not that I qualify in any way for the description of fashionista, but there were plenty of them in the room to make up the shortfall.
The table was beautifully set, with individual stylised menus and a personalised name card. Our only criticism was the size of the font on the menu (see vent number 21). We also had some concerns when only one cake stand was set on the table for four people – there was only two handbags!. However the waiter quickly reassured us that the plates would be swapped out as and when we finished them. He was true to his word as we discovered following multiple plate changes.
The sandwiches (we had 3 rounds each and were offered more!), savoury spoonfuls and cakes were all of a very high standard. In fact I actually enjoyed the afternoon tea more than the lunch we had a few months back in Marcus Wareings restaurant!
We also had a few glasses of champagne – they offer standard or couture. The waiter serving the champagne was particularly proficient as he single handedly poured the champagne, smoothly swapping from one hand to the other. He also used a small laser pointer to individually identify and describe the sandwiches and cakes! I jokingly commented that he put on a better show than the Fat Duck. So you can imagine my shock when Heston Blumental walked by a few minutes later. The Berkeley will be a rival to his planned new Restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental just around the corner (see Foliage replacement – the gossip!), so I guess he was just being neighbourly!