When it comes to the bucket list of afternoon tea experiences in the UK, The Savoy is commonly cited among the very best. Daniel Pearse took the helm of its famed pastry kitchens at the end of last year, coming via the Hakkasan Group where he also held the position of executive pastry chef. This latest role requires a more classic approach, and here he brings the same deft touch to flavour and drawing the most out of ingredients – something that particularly shines through in the new summer menu, where much of Britain’s produce is at its best.
The afternoon tea has been served in the Thames Foyer for over a century, and it delivers on all the grandeur you would expect from such an iconic British landmark. The space truly comes into its own in the summer months, as the already bright and airy room is flooded with natural light from the glass-domed atrium at the centre. Further adding to the outside-in feel is the whimsical gazebo nestled underneath, complete with a pianist. Like the service as a whole the live entertainment is perfectly pitched; playing a repertoire of crowd pleasers, it brought a pleasant extra touch without overwhelming the experience.
When it comes to menus, The Savoy offers more variety and choice than most. When Brummell visited we opted for the Traditional Afternoon Tea; the full works, this comes with the expected sandwiches, scones and full array of pastries. Those less keen on the sweet side can go for the Traditional High Tea, which swaps some of the cakes for an additional savoury course. Vegans and vegetarians are well catered for with bespoke menus, while there is also a separate children’s afternoon tea themed after the classic book The Tiger Who Came to Tea.
The sandwich selection set the overall tone, offering expected combinations with a subtle, delicate twist. Scottish smoked salmon with cream cheese was enhanced with fennel pollen and lemon brioche, while tangy feta was a welcome addition to the cucumber sandwich. Meanwhile, the scones stayed resolutely traditional – light with a delicate crumb, served with Cornish clotted cream and homemade lemon curd and strawberry jam.
The crowning glory of any afternoon tea should be the sweets, and with an array of six different cakes and pastries, The Savoy offers quite the selection. Perhaps the most complex was the religieuse, comprised of perfectly formed, crisp choux pastry filled with jasmine-tea poached apricot compote. Like much of the menu, it was inspired by the hotel’s new collaboration with high-end tea supplier Jing, with The Savoy’s experts well qualified to recommend an accompaniment to each course. Other highlights included a light-as-air layered petit gâteau with tropical notes of banana, mango and passionfruit and the ever-changing tart – at the time raspberry and elderflower – a testament to the kitchen’s use of the best available seasonal fruits.
The Savoy’s Afternoon Tea menu starts at £65 per person.
The Savoy lives up to its esteemed reputation with a classic afternoon tea experience not to be missed.
The Savoy, 2 Savoy Court, Strand, London WC2R 0EZ; thesavoylondon.com