Walking into the St. Martins Lane Hotel you are hit with colour, stand out art and over sized chess pieces that wouldn’t look out-of-place in an art gallery. The hotel is known for its afternoon teas including the popular Asia de Cuba at Cafecito and now the most recent addition, afternoon tea at The Den. Being Afternoon Tea week, we couldn’t resist trying it out.
The Den is as you enter the hotel on your right and is a small opening which reveals a classic British lounge, a mid-sized getaway that represents the perfect retreat within a nice hotel in the centre of London. We were shown to our table at the back of the well designed dining room. Our table was actually a backgammon table with two drawers at both seats surrounded by oak and large windows.
There is a variety of teas to choose from including; English breakfast, Earl Grey, Green, Camomile tea and also Peppermint. You can also choose to add a glass of champagne onto your tea and otherwise a nice twist is the option to add one of The Den’s Gin and Tonics. If you haven’t noticed it supports the current gin trend sweeping London’s bars and hotels. I opted for the ‘Over and Under’, a Sloe Gin cocktail served with Sipsmiths gin, Fever Tree tonic, raspberries and fresh lime. If you are a fan of sloe gin like me you will really enjoy the slightly sweeter and fruitier flavour, which actually complimented the savoury dishes well. Paula ordered the Perrier-Jouet champagne that was served in a long flute champagne glass.
The afternoon tea mixes savoury items with a large selection of sweet desserts. The sandwiches were served on a small slab of slate and there was three savoury options. A honey roast ham and cheddar baked brioche, which was twisted brioche filled with smoked ham and baked cream cheese and spring onion. The brioche was delicate and flakey with a crispy cheese texture with small hits of ham with each bite. The largest and most filling savoury item was the sun-dried tomato focaccia’s filled with feta, basil and aubergine caviar. The feta cheese was crumbled on top of the aubergine caviar and it had a real pesto taste to it which complimented the sun-dried tomato bread. I really enjoyed the blend of vegetable and was my favourite savoury dish.
The last option was the smoked salmon, tomato tartare in a poppy-seed and pumpkin choux. Layers of finely cut salmon served on top of the tomato tartare inside a delicate choux. If you are not a fan of salmon or cannot eat it like me, the waitresses are more than happy to swap for another savoury dish. Paula however said it tasted really fresh and worked well together.
In-between servings of food Paula and I were shown the unique elements of the interior, including a deliberately off centre ship in a frame which visitors often try and straighten, a cricketer picture with the cricket ball smashed through the glass and positioned on the front wall as if it were hit for six, a beheaded Anne Boleyn, don’t worry it’s just the picture is cut in half. A hunting picture with a bullet hole, which a hidden bullet is placed the hotel’s bar if you would like to hunt for it and also a bird-cage picture with the bird missing but perched high on the wall slightly above the painting. It definitely adds to the experience and worth taking a look at the art and interiors.
The sweets were a visual treat served on a jet black stand and included mixed berry tarts, greek yoghurt with passionfruit and guava sauce, coconut macaroons, crunchy praline and vanilla cream Ludovic Eclairs, coconut meringues and the traditional favourite large warm scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam. You are welcomed to ask for more and take any of the food dishes home with you, Paula and I were so full we couldn’t even think about taking any home.
As with most afternoon teas there was a huge selection of food and I would recommend you attend hungry. The eclairs and coconut meringues were our clear favourites as were the mix of sharp and fruity greek yoghurts that really does help break the sweet and savoury dishes.
The Den is really relaxed with very attentive service, if you are looking for a well priced afternoon tea in a relaxed yet impressive setting The Den afternoon tea is well worth booking and visiting. You can also come for relaxed drinks so definitely think about adding to your London drinking venues.
Afternoon tea starts from £25 per person at The St Martin’s Lane Hotel.
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