I don’t take milestone birthdays lightly. When it comes to celebrating the lives of my nearest and dearest, I relish in planning ridiculously perfect and spot-on gifts that show them how much I love them. It meant that stumbling upon a review of the Tale As Old As Time afternoon tea was not just exciting but damn right fortuitous as my darling friend and mega fan of Beauty and the Beast, AJ turned 30 at the end of October.
Town House at The Kensington sits on a quiet West London street, a stone’s throw from the madness of the beautiful but tourist-laden museum district, and must surely lay claim to the warmest welcome in all of the capital’s hotels. A genuinely friendly doorman directed us through to the velvet sofas and roaring log fireplace of the lounge area where we clinked our glasses of prosecco while we waited for our table to be prepared.
She’ll want tea
And my dear that’s fine with me’
The setting for our afternoon tea was the sort that visitors to England conjure up in their imaginations: plush seating, neat without being overly decadent, white tablecloths and silverware. We had a corner table for two and, comfortably sunken into a deep armchair, ordered a pot of tea. The Cloud Tea is a mix between Darjeeling and Assam; light enough to enjoy without milk thanks to the former, malty, deep flavour down to the latter.
‘Beef ragout, cheese souffle, pie and pudding “en flambe”‘
The menu starts with bite-size savouries to whet your appetite. Although the venison pie was not ‘en flambe’, the soft game was lightly peppery and encased in a buttery pastry, the same pastry that housed a fluffy mini cheese souffle. I was rather hoping for the sort of souffle that comes in a ramekin and can be scooped out in spoonfuls but ‘bite-size’ doesn’t really allow for that. The best of the three was the beef ragu and saffron arancini sat on top a delicate lemon creme fraiche.
‘There goes the baker with his tray, like always
The same old bread and rolls to sell’
The tiered cake stand was brought out for the next set of savoury items and the eagerly awaited sweet treats. Freshly baked brioche rolls, shaped like the baguettes sold by the baker in Belle’s ‘Little Town’ were served with a dark chocolate spread and apricot jam. It was hard to pick a favourite and I gave up trying, forgetting all of my manners and adding a bit of both onto each bite. The sandwiches were a step up from the standard fillings you’d expect in a traditional afternoon tea, blending the expected and not-so-much: cucumber and cream cheese and egg mayonnaise are always welcome on my plate; I wasn’t a huge fan of the potted smoked salmon and creme fraiche but the chicken with cranberry was excellent.
‘Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious
Don’t believe me? Ask the dishes!’
Cogsworth the chocolate tart was easily the most impressive looking dish and by far the best tasting. Dark chocolate and raspberry is way up there as one of my ultimate flavour pairings, so despite a small amount of guilt at slicing through his cute sugar paper face, I wolfed the whole thing down. The ‘grey stuff’, served in a little Chip cup was a creamy white chocolate mousse and really was delicious as Lumiere promised! I had to pass on the macaron as I don’t like coconut, but love the way it fits in with the theme of the movie, taking inspiration from the snowball fight Belle and the Beast have. The concept of the vanilla and gold jelly was also clever, replicating the iconic rose in the bell jar, but it was a bit too floral for my tastes.
Not that it mattered greatly; I was full-to-bursting by the end, and suitably entertained by the effort and thought of the whole experience. An afternoon tea very much fit for a birthday Beauty.
PIN IT FOR LATER