Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tea at Harrods

Yesterday,  I had the pleasure of enjoying afternoon tea at Harrods and it was quite the experience. The Georgian Restaurant, where tea is served, is a very large room resembling a catering hall or country club dining room. One stumbles upon this oasis of bourgeoisie decor after wading through the children clothing section. The incredibly large room was covered with silver balls and Christmas decorations, and trees heavily adorned with silver ball ornaments. Upon being seated, we were asked to choose which tea we wanted. I settled on the Moroccan mint while my friends chose the classic Georgian afternoon tea. The mint tea had a strong tea flavor but the mint kept it very refreshing with particles of mint still in the brew. The Georgian was also good, although slightly more traditional. Then our food arrived! We were served, in the traditional fashion, a large silver three-tiered serving platter. The lowest tier contained a variety of delicious sandwiches, the second scones, and the top level desserts. The first sandwich I tried was a delightfully mini lobster roll. The roll had the appropriate crustiness for a lobster roll and the lobster mixture was great: I could taste the lobster but also several seasonings, celery, and several other additions. The lobster rolls were, not surprisingly, my favorite sandwich and we all proceeded to ask for and eat a second round of them. The next tea sandwich I had was some sort of ham sandwich with ham, rocket, and a seasoned mustard. It was really good because the ham was fresh, as was the bread, and the mustard was very delicious. The third sandwich I had was smoked salmon and cream cheese and I obviously loved it. The other two sandwiches weren't really my favorites. One was a mix of I'm not really sure what, possibly pear and goat cheese with a little watercress. It had too many flavors and an unfavorable texture. The other one I didn't really care for was a curried chicken salad on little toasts but I thought it had a little too much curry powder.

The scones were easily one of my favorite parts of the tea. We were served raisin scones as well as plain scones, with clotted cream, rose petal jelly, and strawberry preserves. The scones themselves wee crumbly and moist with a lot of flavor! The clotted cream was like a sweeter, less salty butter so it was definitely a hit. The strawberry preserves were great with big pieces of strawberry and went excellently with the scones and cream but the real knockout was the rose petal jelly. The jelly was runny, with a much thinner consistency than the jam and an equally delicate flavor. Yet, despite it's delicateness, it was full of subtle sweetness and was very nice. The final part of tea was the dessert! We were faced with a plate full of intriguing, colorful, beautiful, and unique looking sweets, most of which I tried. The first sweet I tried was the fruit tart with orange creme. The fruit on top was colorful and fresh and the orange creme filling was delicious! It went perfectly with the fruity flavors of the topping and kept the tart from being too rich. The pastry shell was also flaky, buttery and ideal. Next, I tried the chocolate and cherry Financiere. This treat was shaped almost like a circle cookie but then had layers of rich chocolate, cherry, and nuts. It had a very interesting flavor, possibly due to a small amount of anis, and I wasn't originally a fan. Yet, as I continued powering through, it grew on me, probably due to the chocolate. After my fluctuating feelings about the last dessert, I decided to try something I knew I'd like next: the white chocolate and cranberry delice. This was a scrumptious little pastry bite with incredibly creamy white chocolate followed by a layer of cranberry compote and finally a crunch of ground nuts. It was really good and had the perfect texture balance! Finally, I had the gingerbread and toffee macaroon and I definitely saved the best for last. The top and bottom layers were soft and chewy with a full toffee flavor while the middle was almost like a mousse it was so light. The "mousse" filling was an incredibly flavorful blend of cinnamon, gingerbread, and nutmeg that worked so well with the sweet toffee taste. It was great! We were also served a Brandy Dundee cake which I didn't try because 1. it looked like a fruit cake and I don't like fruit cake and 2. I was full/wanted to save room for a second plate of sandwiches.

Tea was a fun and delicious way to spend a few hours with good friends on one of my final days in London. Although it was a bit expensive, I think it was a great value because we were served so much food and you're able to ask for endless amounts of anything. I understand now why tea in London, especially somewhere with a long-standing reputation like Harrods, is a must-do for every visitor to the city. I only wish I'd known sooner so I could have enjoyed afternoon tea more often, although I'm not sure how many times my wallet could have.
The Georgian Restaurant at Harrod's on Urbanspoon

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