When I think of afternoon tea, images of cakes piled high and enough finger sandwiches to feed an entire army are conquered up. The summer I finished my A Levels, I worked in a rather upmarket hotel for the holidays, serving an abundance of afternoon teas whilst secretly wishing I could be eating them rather than serving them.
Chocolate eclairs, carrot cakes, salmon and cucumber sandwiches, macaroons and lemon meringue pies were just some of the treats on offer. And although it’s taken a few years, I was lucky enough to experience the other side of things last week, after being invited along to The Pantry at 108, situated just next to the Marylebone Hotel. Tucked away down a quiet street, I invited my lovely friend Sarah along – who is a fellow blogger and foodie.
After arriving slightly behind time and admittedly, a little flustered – we were delighted to have been greeted by a member of staff who ushered us over to a beautiful little table by the window, past an array of amazing looking cakes and scones. The room itself was quiet, with just a few tables occupied, but bright, airy and wonderfully decorated, with bright additions to what looked like traditional furniture. Almost immediately, we were presented with a selection of different teas, before our afternoon teas were ordered. I opted for the camomile, whilst Sarah chose traditional earl grey. We sipped from the cutest little tea cups, and (in obligatory blogger style) took just a few photographs.
When the food arrived, beautifully presented on a traditional afternoon tea style stand, I will admit – I wasn’t blown away by the treats on offer. I chose the gluten free option, intrigued to find out how it could be incorporated into such a carb-ilicous treat – and was given the same sandwiches as Sarah, who opted for the classic tea. With an assortment of fillings, the sandwiches certainly filled a hole – and were tasty, but they didn’t really offer anything exciting or different than that of which I could make myself at home. The smoked salmon was lovely and beautifully presented, but as somewhere which has such a decadent and luxurious feel to it – it didn’t really live up to what I was expecting.
The cakes, again, weren’t the greatest selection and as someone who is more into her chocolate filled, calorie laden treats – even Sarah’s option – the classic, didn’t offer what I’d deem as treats which you can’t wait to dig into. The pimm’s jelly, with raspberries and fruit was a really unique, yet delicious addition to a traditional tea, as did the chocolate brownie – however the rest of the offerings I didn’t touch. If I hadn’t been there for a review, I would have been extremely disappointed, especially considering the price for one person is £28. Affordable for London standards, but a treat for someone like me – and one I wouldn’t exactly be inclined to splash out on again. Having expected to feast (both my eyes and taste buds) on a helping of cakes I couldn’t possibly finish – which is half the fun of afternoon teas – I was a little disappointed.
The scones however, after swapping them for plain ones – were delicious and almost made up for the lack of sweet treats available. Lovely smooth strawberry jam and sweet, yet not sickly clotted cream was given alongside the crumbliest and tastiest scones, which were devoured almost instantaneously.
Overall, the experience itself wasn’t entirely unpleasant but I feel improvements could be made. The service was impeccable, with friendly and attentive staff on hand to offer teas to your hearts content. The decor was beautiful and made for some lovely photographs. The decadent and wondrous afternoon tea offerings however, weren’t up to my fussy eating standards and could do with being far more luxurious in their appearance and taste. I appreciate my gluten free option was the more healthy alternative, however even so – the other bits on the classic were of similar type, and I think they could do with adhering more so to typical British classics to win over a sweet toothed fan base. Afternoon teas are luxurious, full of treats and creams, chocolates and fruit. This one fell slightly below what I was expecting, but the company, decor and service certainly made the deal slightly sweeter.
If you’re looking for a healthier afternoon tea option, with affordable London prices, this may be one to try – however personally, I’m not sure I’ll be returning. I appreciate this experience was offered to me as a review, so I did not pay for this – however as always, and to remain transparent and loyal to readers, I wanted to ensure I was honest and offered constructive feedback. I am really sorry if this review looks as though I’m being ungrateful and of course, my view isn’t the only view, however I just expected something a little more decadent to match up to the amazing decor and I was a little disappointed.