Based on recent events, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing better than afternoon tea, is a chocolate afternoon tea.
The hypothesis was formed over a Chocolate Week special at Harrods and duly confirmed this weekend at the InterContinental Park Lane…
I’ve often mentioned the hotel as one of my favourite go-to’s in the area.
Whether popping in for a drink at the Arch Bar, indulging in la dolce vita at Theo Randall’s or a spot of me-time in the spa, there’s an altogether welcoming and relaxed air about the InterCon that keeps drawing me back.
And then there’s the Wellington Lounge, where afternoon tea is served. My parents and I arrived mid-afternoon on a Sunday to find it abuzz with a happy chatter moving across the elegantly inviting space.
We’d last visited just a few short months ago, to experience the utterly enthralling Scents of Summer tea.
Recently launched in collaboration with master chocolatier Paul A. Young, whom I can proudly say I’ve had the pleasure of meeting (at the Chocolate Show last year), the new afternoon tea promised us a different journey of sorts…
We commenced on a bubbly note, a glass of Moët & Chandon in hand as we tucked into an ethereally beautiful selection of sandwiches.
Presented open-faced on a versatile mix of flat breads, each offered a delicate yet complex depth of flavours, featuring a thoughtful assembly of ingredients…
Traditional cucumber and cream cheese never looked or tasted more appealing as it did that afternoon, elevated by the crafty use of beetroot cream, pea mousse and a single, deliciously crisp kale leaf (trust me, kale has never tasted this good), all of which sat lightly atop a zesty lemon bread.
Honey-roasted pumpkin, goats cheese and a sage crisp formed the base flavours for a perfect autumnal bite, while tomato and creamy mozzarella – dressed with pesto and balsamic vinegar – on crunchy sourdough bread was the stuff of an instant classic!
The chef had been kind enough to whip up an all-vegetarian assortment for us, but across the room I could see fellow foodie and internet-friend Binny, devouring the likes of cocoa-dusted seared tuna (with orange and fennel salsa) and smoked salmon and lemon cream cheese sandwiches!
Next came the scones – classic buttermilk and another variety sweetened with brown sugar. Light and fluffy, their shiny golden egg-brushed tops glistening smartly…
The usual suspects featured alongside of course, but in a surprise twist there was also a moreish little pot of salted caramel clotted cream…
Needless to say, for once mother and I didn’t dispute which to slather on first!
We’d started with a light and aromatic Darjeeling, before moving on to the hotel’s signature No 1 Park Lane tea – a special blend imbued with vanilla and custard-like notes, peppered with a nutty hint of cacao nibs…
… Which led us smoothly to the final act.
A showstopper involving all sorts of chocolatey delights presented on an edible bed of twigs and soil to signify the changing of seasons and advent of autumn!
A ‘bonfire cone’ with chipotle-chili was intensely earthy with dark, woody notes (the ganache was steeped with sandalwood, cedarwood, chocolate twigs and cocoa nibs).
While the plumptious autumn chocolate sphere snapped open to reveal 72% Venezuelan chocolate intricately textured with chocolate soil, salted caramelised hazelnuts, blackcurrant, thyme leaves and toasted walnut oil!
But our unanimous favourite was the white chocolate and green cardamom ganache, coated with a 65% dark chocolate cocoa pod. It was refreshingly minty and surprisingly suggestive of the flavours familiar of Indian mithai.
We also loved the bronzed berries strewn across the terrarium, which balanced the cocoa extravaganza with succulent, juicy notes on the palate!
It was both a sumptuous and rather scrumptious afternoon, which proved that there is a definite truth to that age-old saying…
A Sunday well spent, brings a week of content.
Wellington Lounge, The InterContinental, 1 Hamilton Pl, London W1J 7QY
We were guests of the InterContinental but as always all opinions are mine and mine alone.