Mar 11, 2012

Afternoon Tea, Palm Court at The Langham, Mayfair, London.

It's my last night in London.  It's begun to feel like home these last few days.  I've sussed out the tube and the idiosyncrasies of the DLR line.  I've figured out the self check out at Boots.  I've eaten every kind of standard British sandwich filling on a variety of breads.  I've completed a loyalty coffee card at McDonalds.  I also think I've received a copy of every free newspaper handed out at the underground stations.

So it is through the eyes of an almost local that I write this post before I leave tomorrow for a mind bending couple of flights through several time zones and return home to Sydney having lost a day but having gained some amazing memories.

All Soul's Church, just off Regent Street a little way up from The Langham.
Afternoon tea is always a treat but more so in a foreign city.  It's a chance to change out of your usual sight seeing clothes and dress up for an afternoon.  Cities like London seem to be at their most attractive with a bit of afternoon sun adding colour to the sandstone and marble of the buildings.  Church steeples seem golden as they rise high into the sky, almost out of nowhere as you walk the streets.

The venue for afternoon tea in London was the Palm Court at The Langham.  Which I am going anoint as the best high tea I've eaten anywhere in the world.

Stepping into the plush tea lounge with its live pianist, it was easy to cast aside my day 'job' as an intrepid first time visitor to London.

Strawberry preserves and Devonshire clotted cream.

They mean business at The Langham when it ones to afternoon tea.  How else do you explain the elegant china vats of jam, cream and sugar on each table?

There are a number of choices for tea at Palm Court.  Some menus offer options of hot dishes and others a variety of different sandwich and cake options.  How could I not choose the Stephen Webster Bijoux Afternoon Tea?  The cakes were inspired by Webster's dramatic, glam rock jewellery designs.

As an appetiser, we were served a rhubarb custard.

Which refused to be photographed in focus.  You can see a hint of the rhubarb layer in the photo above.  The custard was so light and with the stewed rhubarb, I'm sure it counted as my serve of fruit and dairy for an otherwise calorific afternoon of food.

As well as the obligatory champagne, the tea for the table was the official Langham blend.  British tea is that much stronger than Australian varieties.  Which reminds me, I must buy a box of PG Tips tomorrow, to take home with me.  I promise to declare it at customs.

The fact that the tea stand was free standing and went up to chest level in height was the first clue that this was to be no run of the mill afternoon tea.

The little roll at the front is filled with lobster and a sprinkling of flying fish roe.  To the right is the duck egg mayonnaise and caviar and to the left, the poached quail breast with grapes and violet.
 These are sandwiches.  Not cakes,  Sandwiches.

Foie gras and apple to the left and relatively bog standard smoked salmon and cream cheese with cucumber pearls on  rye to the right.
It was almost a shame to bite into the perfectly proportioned sandwiches and to crack the light crusts of the tarts.

A close up of the poached quail tartlet.
There wasn't a quiche or bread crust in sight.  Not that I'm complaining.  We were also offered a second round of sandwiches but believe me, those sandwiches punch way above their size and I was already feeling pretty full after sharing a single round with Mr SSG.

While we finished our sandwiches, our waiter informed us that our scones were being warmed in the oven.  I'd call the scones served full sized.  There were a half dozen for the two of us, in three different flavours - plain, champagne soaked raisin and choc chip and orange.  The scones were light but buttery.  The only flavour that didn't appeal to me much was the choc chip version.  With regard to the toppings, I am now a clotted cream on scones convert.  I wonder how easy it is to get clotted cream in Australia?

The cakes take their inspiration from Webster's 'Murder She Wrote' collection of jewellery.

You know how I said I was full?  Well, these stunning, jewel like cakes were glinting at me from the tea stand all afternoon but there was no way I could squeeze any of them in.  They were truly magnificent.  They had to be seen in real life to be fully appreciated for the works of edible art that they were.

Poison Apple biscuit, Dagger Dome and Razor Ribbon Ring (green tea flavoured).
Crystal clear diamond, a Guiness flavoured macaron.
Poison Apple, a delicious sponge with apple flavoured filling.

I think my predicament was a familiar one at Palm Court because they even have an official takeaway box.

Which travelled with me the next day from the city in a black cab to Canary Wharf.

Where I almost died with joy at the sight of this kettle, tea bags and UHT milk in our room at the Hilton Canary Wharf.

And again at the sight of all the space in the bathroom and in the room in general.

The cakes survived the cab ride relatively unscathed.

Luxuriating in a fully functional hotel room (with a bathroom sink that actually drained), I celebrated by making cups of tea and snacking on that take home box of Palm Court goodies.  They were so good a day after the event, I can only imagine how much better they would have been on the day of our afternoon tea.

Palm Court at the Langham on Urbanspoon


  1. It looks so yummy! Lovely way to spend your last night! :)

  2. Afternoon tea is such a great thing:)

  3. Leanne Shea LangdownMarch 12, 2012 at 7:21 AM

    I've got to stop reading your blog before breakfast. I now feel the need for a big pile of cream atop my fruit ... sounds divine! 
    Have a safe trip home SSG. "See you" back in Sydney

  4. Sarah, Semi ExpatMarch 12, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Oh my goodness I have never seen such an elaborate Afternoon Tea - just beautiful. And you are a girl after my own heart - I never return to Australia from UK without my obligatory (large) box of PG tips tea bags!! Safe flights. x

  5. Utterly luxurious... Echoing another commenter, I should stop reading your blog after dinner time!

  6. Oh my goodness the high tea is exquisite! Very jealous :-D

  7. That's the most exquisite high tea I've ever seen. I'm in love with the take away box alone! Beautiful and duly added to my list of things to do if I ever find myself in London again :) 

  8. Had no idea you were going to stay in Canary Wharf or that your trip was longer than the Friday- Tuesday you mentioned.....Greenwich was just 10 minutes away via DLR.   Glad that you had a good time but sad you were so close to my house and didn't contact me. x

  9. Yum!  Your foodie adventures are so inspiring me ahead of our trip later this year!

  10. Hello SSGHaven't checked your blog for a long, long time and have been enjoying catching up on all your posts from the last year or so over many cups of (inferior) tea.  Unbelievably sorry to hear of you 'annus horribilis' and hope 2012 brings you happy days.  I have regrettably been traipsing a very similar path to you which has left me keeping to myself and dealing with my personal stormclouds (and not doing very much blogging etc) - so your posts on the motherhood issue strike a chord.  Meanwhile, loving your London posts bigtime as Mr W & I are escaping the misery of normal life and will be there in the latter part of this year.  Was v curious about Dinner by Heston, and this sure looks the High Tea of all high teas!!  Excited!Sorry for the novel-length comment - I almost forgot that the main reason for picking this particular post for giving feedback was to let you know the Fish Markets Deli (Blackwattle Deli) have clotted cream from time to time, so check them out when you are next there.  Have a safe journey home. xx Amy

  11. Hi Amy
    Sweetheart.  You poor thing.  I'm so sorry to hear you've been down my track as well.  Not something I'd wish on anyone.  Good on you for surviving and planning that trip to London for you and Mr W.

    The very best of luck for this year to you as well.

    Fingers crossed and a huge virtual hug,

    SSG xxx

  12. High tea is english meal, it served with few cakes.High tea is a use for evening meal. In many restaurants serve the traditional high tea.Cream tea is a combination of scones, jam and clotted cream. There are diffrent type of tea which is very expensive as well as exclusive.For more details refer


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