Brummell recommends: Art Afternoon Tea, Rosewood London

A joyous new collaboration with artist John Booth brings an expert blend of playful design and imaginative patisserie to Rosewood London Hotel’s Mirror Room

Food and Drink 25 Jun 2024

Art Afternoon Tea at Rosewood London's Mirror Room

Art Afternoon Tea at Rosewood London's Mirror Room

The background

Since 2017, the Art Afternoon Tea has seen pastry chef Mark Perkins take inspiration from many sources – from Rodin and the Art of Ancient Greece to the RA’s Picasso and Paper and Antony Gormley – to produce ingenious edible creations. For the latest instalment, Perkins spent time in the studio of artist John Booth, where they combined their creative processes to design a collection of cakes that are as exuberant an experience to eat as they are to admire. From aesthetics to flavour and texture, the pastries are a true artistic collaboration.

The space

Rosewood London’s Mirror Room epitomises plush luxury with a distinctly artistic modern edge, where polished marble and plump Chesterfield sofas meet sleek matt black accents, contemporary sculptural lighting and, of course, the angular mirrored walls and ceiling. Even the metal cake stands are gallery-worthy, serving as something between a display case and a frame for the petite artworks within.

The Painter's Palette Cake from the John Booth Collection
The Painter’s Palette Cake from the John Booth Collection

The food

While there is an extensive tea cellar to choose from, tea sommelier Shane Cox has provided impeccable pairings for each of the Art Afternoon Tea’s three courses. We begin with a selection of perfectly proportioned sandwiches – cucumber, cream cheese and olive tapenade on turmeric bread; smoked salmon and crème fraîche on charcoal bread; chicken with parsley mayonnaise on tomato bread; ham and wholegrain mustard mayo on pillow-soft brown bread – rounded off with a miniature cheese and chutney filigrano tart. The tea pairing is a subtly smoky and wonderfully fresh Vietnam Golden Tip.

The Twins Cake from the John Booth Collection
The Twins Cake from the John Booth Collection

The second course includes a clever little teaser of the main event. Plain and raisin scones arrive flanked by Cornish clotted cream, strawberry jam and house-made lemon curd – and the first two art-inspired pastries (these accompanied by tiny squeals of delight from, er, we couldn’t possibly say who). One is an Amarena Bourbon, made with chocolate sable biscuit sandwiching amarena cream and topped with a white chocolate cup holding a single amarena cherry (a favourite treat of Booth’s). The other, Strawberry Shortbread, is a perfect pink strawberry sphere, topped with a Booth-esque yellow flower and served on a shortbread round. The tea pairing for these is nothing short of rapturous: Sencha Sakura, delicately floral with the faintest whisper of vanilla and absolutely singing with cherry flavour.

Tropical Tulip from the John Booth Collection
Tropical Tulip from the John Booth Collection

Finally, the three main art pastries arrive (delighted squeals intensify). The Twins, inspired by Booth’s childhood sweet-sharing squabbles with his twin sister, is a bicoloured dome split into a glossy blue half and a crisply coated green half, both filled with layers of vanilla custard, caramel, chocolate date sponge and praline crunch – an imaginative homage to sticky toffee pudding; Painter’s Palette, inspired by raspberry ripple (another Booth favourite), comprising a sphere of cheesecake covered in bright paint strokes and filled with raspberry jelly and pink sponge, perched on a crispy biscuit; and Tropical Tulip, perhaps the pastry most directly inspired by Booth’s own artwork, composed of a mango mousse cylinder surrounding orange passionfruit jelly and pistachio sponge, topped with a multicoloured yuzu-chocolate tulip. The final tea pairing is Sea of Blossom, made from 100 types of bloom from 22 different countries, offering beautifully subdued floral notes with hints of summer fruit.

The bill

£75 per person, £85 with a glass of R de Ruinart champagne or Wild Idol 0%, and £92 with a glass of Ruinart Rosé champagne or a cocktail – or make an occasion of it and opt for a glass of Dom Pérignon for £160.

The verdict

Expertly crafted, playful works of adventurous edible art.

Rosewood London, 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN;