Tea time takes on a glamorous twist in St. Pancras

Left: Earl Grey; right: White Tea, spiffing tea-time cocktails at Gilbert Scott

Think quintessential English afternoon tea and finger sarnies, cakes, scones and pots of Earl Grey spring to mind. Nothing wrong with that except the idea of the ritual is usually better than the tea itself. Don’t get us wrong, we love a sweet confection as much as the next person but even we start to feel a little nauseous when they’re served up en masse from 3pm-5pm. That’s why Taking Tea With George at the Gilbert Scott is such a hit – you get all of the elegance and naughtiness you yearn for but none of the cloying sweetness…

But before we get to the food, let’s start with the liquid part of the equation. Here they’ve sensibly bypassed the boring old Lapsang Souchang and English Breakfast part and gone straight to cocktail o’clock. And we must say, we like their style. Choose from the Earl Grey (Earl Grey tea, brandy, amaretto and cream); Chamomile (chamomile tea, cachaca, Nyetimber ‘Classic Cuvee’) and White tea (White tea, gin, pineapple and honey). We tried all three and were absolutely thrilled on the taste front as well as the presentation.

Look up before chowing down…

Mr G’s Earl Grey was a delight. It looked innocent enough, especially with the cream being added at the table from a little glass jug, but man it packed a big old punch. Incredibly well balanced, big on flavour and absolutely gorgeous. Meanwhile, Ms S couldn’t have been happier with her White Tea. Everything from the glassware to the ingredients has been carefully considered, resulting in an elegant tea-time cocktail that’s sweetish but not too heavy on the honey (thank goodness) whilst delivering a cheeky kick. And it would have been plain rude not to have a taste of the Chamomile, so we put that to the taste test as well. Again, top marks to Oli and the team for a winning combo.

Dainty dollops of deliciousness

And on to the food… It’s served with a flourish under a glass dome and whilst theatrical, don’t go expecting the usual full-to-bursting thing you get with your regular hotel tea. Taking Tea With George is a much more refined affair, hence the dolly-sized tidbits served on a single tier.

Everything has been given a welcome twist – from the sarnies served with a long strip of cucumber wrapped around the outside of the bread, to the amazingly gooey and deliciously moreish Jaffa cakes – dainty dollops of sponge drenched in tangy marmalade.

A fresh twist on the classic cucumber sarnie

The gourmet bursts of flavour include Mrs Beeton’s cheese butterflies – an intense hit of goats cheese followed by melt-in-the-mouth deliciously light pastry; Eton Mess with strawberry creaminess encased in perfectly peaky meringues and one of those almost forgotten classics: crisp, fruity and flaky eccles cakes. Then it’s on to a fabulous peanut brittle choc ice – another triumph which causes us to close our eyes while we savour the taste and pretend they tasted this good in our childhoods.

Hand on heart this is one of our favourite teas in London (and we’ve tried a lot). The setting is superb, the drinks are fabulous and the food is a delight. The only criticism we have is that there could be a tad more. Which is much better than the thoughts we usually have…

Taking Tea With George, £29 per person. Gilbert Scott, St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, NW1 2AR. T: 020 7278 3888. thegilbertscott.co.uk.

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