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Friend: My favourite London afternoon teas

Now I've popped afternoon teas in the friend category, even though whenever I go to afternoon tea I see lots of couples, as I have no heck of an idea how people got their boyfriends there? I know in practice Will would like nothing more than to eat a meal where the ratio of sweet to savoury was like 3:1, and it was more than socially acceptable to be drinking prosecco in the middle of the day, but the chances of me ever getting him to set foot in an afternoon tea establishment are slim. So I see afternoon tea as definitely one to do with your heeeyy girlfriends. Everything is already in bite sized portions so you don't have to waste your energy using a knife and fork, you can spend it gossiping and talking about the Zara sale instead. I tend to go to afternoon teas because a friend has taken me for a birthday present, or I am taking them for a birthday present. I love an experience birthday gift, as then everyone gets a treat, the birthday present giver and receiver.

I've gone to quite a few random hotels in the Victoria and Chelsea areas for afternoon teas that I've found on Groupon or Groupon-esq websites, but I have to admit they have never quite hit the spot, and they can be a hooha to book, but they are a pretty cheap and easy way to enjoy scones and mini pastries without paying more than you would for an actual meal which indeed has some nutritional value. Just a quick glance at Groupon alone today, there are 11 afternoon teas in London you can purchase right now. These however, are my most memorable ones, which I would recommend and have never spotted on any voucher deal websites:

1. For good value for money - Afternoon Tea at The Modern Pantry

This is still more than most Groupon deals, and there is still a little bit of booking hassle on weekends (they are just so popular for good reason), but if you can stretch your budget a bit and plan in advance I'd head to the Modern Pantry in Farringdon.

Modern Pantry is known for it's quirky and fresh ingredients it weaves into everything from it's Sunday roasts to a la carte menus to afternoon teas. My friend Beth took for my birthday present last year, and we had a glorious time in the fresh, white and bright little restaurant.

My favourite savoury menu item: Cheddar, caramelised onion and tumeric scone with curry leaf goats curd
My favourite sweet thing on the menu: Darjeeling tea and pink peppercorn scone with clotted cream and liquorice and berry jam

What can I say, they did damn good scones. For their full menu go here. To book go here.

I am afraid I am not enough of a tea whiz to tell you all about the different teas at each of these restaurants (also, I would always just order a jasmine green). I only go to afternoon teas for the 3:1 sweet to savoury ratio, rather than the tea per say. The tea here though was definitely nice.

How much will it cost for 2 people?

2. For quirky fun  and impressing people- The Sanderson's Alice in Wonderland "Mad Hatter" afternoon tea

I took my friend Finn here as a thank you a couple of years ago for her using her spare Florence + the Machine ticket she got for Christmas to take me to see Florence at Alexander Palace. Afternoon tea in exchange for Florence + the Machine? That is what you call a win win situation.
copyright CN traveller

Everything at The Sanderson's afternoon tea is Alice in Wonderland themed, but in a really classy way. Ham and mustard sandwiches are made with bright yellow (mustard powder), cucumber and cream cheese are on bright green spinach bread making everything beautiful and delicious. You sit in the leafy conservatory which was beautiful on a sunny day, but I think would be pretty cosy on a nippier one too. I also really loved here that you could swap your champagne for earl grey cocktails, and that the jasmine tea was an actual jasmine flower. Very instagrammable.

My favourite thing on the savoury menu: Cumbrian ham and wholegrain mustard sandwiches in sundried tomato bread. Cos ham, mustard and tomato is a classic sandwich combo however posh you make it.
My favourite thing on the sweet menu: the Drink me potion. It didn't make me grow taller or smaller, but it is basically this lime and passionfruit pannocotta-esq stuff with this coconut froth if I remember rightly, so basically all the good things in the world in one adorable little bottle. As you drink it out of the teeny straw the flavours change as you go down, like something out of a fairytale or that Heston Blumenthal would have made. Excellent, just excellent.

For their full menu and to book go here.

Post edit: If you can't get into the Sanderson or Alice in Wonderland is not your favourite children's book, my friend Lucy and Siobhan recently took me on a birthday treat to a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory afternoon tea at One Aldwych, which was amazing. Even the tea was like something out of a fictional chocolate factory: jewelled apple with strawberry, toffee and apple or salted caramel, real caramel chunks with a hint of vanilla.

But the food my goodness. The savoury was better than expected considering Willy Wonka didn't make anything savoury himself, but the sweet was just excellent and so so plentiful.

My favourite savoury thing on the menu: Mini heritage tomato tarts
My favourite sweet thing on the menu: Rhubarb and custard homemade candy floss.

3. For an afternoon tea with a view - Aqua at The Shard

That is a photo of my lovely Mum who my sister and I took for Afternoon Tea at the Shard last Mother's Day. My sister and I decided to splurge on it, as hey we are both adults earning money now and we probably have to at least make a dent in paying our parent's back for all those times they took us out for dinner. And I always ordered the steak. 

As it costs £29.95 to go up the Shard anyhoo, I think £45 to go up the Shard (maybe not quite as high), and have champagne, and have scones, and have mini sandwiches, and have assorted desserts... is a pretty good deal. 

Aqua don't really do anything cray cray with their afternoon tea, but the quality is pretty good and they splash out on Veuve Cliquot champagne. They also make an opera cake in the shape of the shard, so that is nice. Eating a chocolate shard whilst you are up the shard. Something poetic about that.

My favourite savoury thing: Earl Grey tea smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches
My favourite sweet thing: Orange blossom scones with strawberry and tahitian vanilla jam. The shard cake looks nice and all, but I really don't get the opera cake thing. It looks tricky to make on British Bake Off but my unrefined tastebuds would choose a chocolate brownie over a chocolate opera cake any day.

For their full menu go here. To book go here. (Nb when I went to the Afternoon tea they served on Saturdays, but from their website now it looks like they only do afternoon tea Monday to Friday. However, it is would be a pretty nice way to spend a lazy Monday off)

4. For when you don't really want afternoon tea but you want an excuse to drink in the daytime and feel sophisticated about it: Moroccan Afternoon tea at Momo

Photo taken by Bessie Jewels

My most recent afternoon tea was where I took Beth for her birthday (looks like we are getting through a lot of mini cucumber sandwiches and scones together). I'd only just got back from Morocco and thought I could never even look at a mint tea again, but once I was in Momo's cosy Moroccan lantern lit room, and relaxing with a glass of champers I got in the mood. Momo does serve scones (cos what is an afternoon tea without scones) but is more mini Shawarma than mini sandwich on the savoury front.

My favourite savoury thing: falafel and courgette dip wrap
My favourite sweet thing: pistachio macaroons

To book Momo go here. For the full menu go here.

So those are my top 4 of the ones I've been to so far, but there are so many lovely hotels and restaurants across London there are many more I am lining up for treat days.

Next on my list are:

1. Sketch's Afternoon Tea - at £51 for the cheapest afternoon which actually includes a glass of something alcoholic (it is still £39 without it) Sketch is pretty pricey, but I really want to go because a) I just really want to go to Sketch b) you get to eat in this room which would surely make everything taste even more marvellous and c) they serve "mousse malabar marshmallows". Who even knows what the flip those are but they sound delicious. To see Sketch's full afternoon tea menu, go here. To book, go here, but please don't boast to me about the experience and make me jealous. 
Copyright Sketch UK

2. Afternoon Tea at The Ritz - ok so the menu looks pretty standard, and it is £59 for champagne afternoon tea, but think of the Instagram photos and the celebrities you might spot. Afternoon tea at The Ritz is defo one off the bucket list. You can actually just casually book an afternoon tea at The Ritz online, who knew? Go here to do so and see their full menu.
3. Gentlemen's Afternoon Tea at The Soho Sanctum - there are quite a few Gentlemen's afternoon teas about (The Mandeville and The Athenaeum both do one, The Mandeville's have free flowing champagne and The Athenaeum have sticky toffee pudding so maybe add them to my list to0) but I think this one at The Soho Sanctum tops them all. Lamb hotpot, steak sandwich, oysters, whisky, cigar on the roof at the end. Sign me up. (Maybe not to actually have the cigar, but to wave it around in a seductive way for a photo opportunity). You can book and see the complete menu here. Oh, and it's 50 quid.

Top image copyright is a picture by Jane Rusker.

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