Recently went to afternoon tea with a friend at one of the Firmdale hotels, The Soho Hotel, in London. It was tucked back from the main road, kind of like the Savoy is off the Strand, so you immediately felt like you were going somewhere a bit exclusive, special.
It’s a beautiful, slightly funky hotel in terms of décor – kicking myself that I didn’t take a picture of the big, black Asian-looking cat statue that’s the first thing you see when you walk in the lobby (but there’s a picture of it on their website linked above!).
We went to the restaurant, were a little concerned about having tea there because it wasn’t very quiet, only to find out that our tea was set up in their library, which was the perfect setting for the kind of catch-all catch-up conversation one wants to have with a good friend one hasn’t seen in awhile. There were still a few other women working or chatting, but the room had the hushed, quiet ambience one expects in a library – even a hotel library. For us, ambience is one of those things that can make or break a pleasant afternoon tea experience!
So there we were, tucked away in one corner of the room, and I gotta say, even though we were the only ones being served the full afternoon tea in the room, every time we were about to say to each other, how about a few more sandwiches, or we were ready for scones, or hot water for our tea, our server would magically appear. Even when our servers changed shifts! So high marks for service as well.
While I love the traditional tea sandwiches, I also like it when there’s a couple that take another twist, or are something entirely new. On this plate, the traditional sandwiches were delicious, but the addition of truffle made the egg mayonnaise extra special. And I think the small balls of goat cheese with thyme honey were my favorite – I could have gone for a few more of them!
The scones were really delicious – I still only managed to eat one, though was very tempted to have a second one. Honestly, my favorite topping was the passion fruit jam – not sure I’ve ever had passion fruit anything before, so I’ve got no frame of reference to compare. But it’s definitely up there to be something to serve at the next afternoon tea I host at home.
I went for the Assam tea – with just a little shot of milk, it balanced perfectly with the food. Small picture of the teapot above as well – I loved the Wedgwood “Mythical Creatures” china pattern they use for tea.
Finally, about the pastries – the orange macaron was a fav, as was the pistachio opera cake with tart little currents to garnish. Though I enjoyed the others as well. The chestnut in the Mont Blanc tart – not sure I’ve ever had chestnut in that form before either – was delicious.
To sum up, I would definitely recommend the Soho Hotel for an intimate afternoon tea with a good friend – you will find steady pots of tea with good food and the cozy atmosphere of a library to get into all the friend stories and news that you want to catch up on!