Afternoon tea in London? Why, of course! The Ritz, The Palm Court, Fortnum & Mason’s. Sipping a cup of Earl Grey from best bone china, and cucumber sandwiches, scones and cream on best Wedgwood china. Chintzy hotel parlours and tinkly harp and piano music. How charmingly 20th century! But of course this is 2011, so it’s time for Not Afternoon Tea in London at the Oxo Tower Brasserie, with cool jazz in your ear, the breeze in your hair (if you wish to sit outside) and one of the finest views in all London from the 8th floor of the Oxo Tower. Order Tea and Coffee here and you’ll be served a warm Pinky Hotea cocktail of green tea, vodka, Cointreau and lemon juice, aromatised with vanilla and raspberry. It sounds odd, looks girly, but believe me, tastes heavenly. To prod and nibble, there are green tea macaroons, jasmine tea mousse, camomile tea and lemon pudding, and to finish, a perfectly bitter-sweet semi-freddo espresso parfait.
The biggest revelation, to this male sceptic, was how well the flavours went so well together, and although there may seem a lot of items to get through, they’re small enough to cope, yet filling enough to satisfy.
There are three other choices on the menu: Chocolate Indulgence, comprising various cocoa-inspired treats washed down with a dark rum cocktail; Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb (pictured above), featuring that most English of tastes, complemented by a London Dry Gin & Cherry Heering concoction; and Hot & Sticky, with toffee pudding, treacle tart, apple and pecan tartin, and pear and ginger crumble, all paired with a rather splendid blend of rum, lime juice and ginger beer. In addition to my Tea and Coffee, we also chose the latter which was excellent if rather filling.
Our waiter was as sweet and cosmopolitan as the menu and after our treat asked if we would like a (normal) tea or coffee. “Many people do” he assured us. I surprised myself by demurring, adding “Surely that would be missing the point!”
Not Afternoon Tea is served daily between 3pm and 5:30pm and at £19.50 per head is around half the price (albeit minus the cucumber sandwiches…) of its more illustrious rivals..
Tel: 020 7803 3888