Tea for Two
Regular readers of the Fizz of Life Blog will have noticed that my posts have become more intermittent, rather than once weekly on Tuesdays. There are many reasons for this but, most importantly, after three and a half years of writing it regularly, I have come across so many fabulous restaurants, which I have enjoyed so much, that I want to return to them, rather than necessarily trying out somewhere new every week. Since one person can only eat so much, so often, and still retain a healthy, happy lifestyle, something had to give! Most notably, my waistband! However, despair not, I will be continuing with my write-ups, though they will appear on a more ad hoc basis, when I have something to share with you. I hope you will bear with me and carry on visiting this page, liking it and sharing it! New posts are announced on Fizz of Life’s Facebook page, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and Instagram. (See links on side bar).
Today is, in fact, the Lovely Husband’s birthday and to celebrate it in style, a little in advance, I took him out for a slap up afternoon tea last Sunday. Where better to choose than the rather beautiful, award winning Ham Yard Hotel in Soho?!
Ham Yard is a micro area of cool chicness with, as they say on their website, an urban village feel, tucked away just off Windmill Street, close to so many of London’s theatres. Here you enter a world of tiny fairy lights, surrounded by trees and dominated by an impressive bronze sculpture by artist, Tony Cragg.
The hotel has 91 individually designed rooms and 24 apartments, all cleverly and lovingly styled by Kit Kemp in a modern British style with some very eye catching, attractive accents. It has a restaurant, a bar, a conservatory eating area, outdoor dining, and my personal favourite, a stunning small library. Ham Yard Hotel is owned by Firmdale Hotels, a byword for exquisitely fashionable boutique hotels in London, New York and the Caribbean, so it certainly has all the necessary pedigree!
We’re not here for the lovely rooms, a drink at the bar or a relax in the library, we’re here for that famous afternoon tea, so bring it on!
Right from the get-go, the service is outstanding. I mooch about the foyer while the Lovely Husband takes our car off to park it some distance away. My heels, you know! As I get a bit bored standing around like a lemon, I decide to head to our table in the restaurant, but first I tell the doorman to send any lost looking men on to me. He takes my name and from then on, it’s all “Leave it with me, Mrs. Armstrong.” Sure enough, ten minutes later the right man joins me without mishap.
The conservatory area has more of a light, bright tea room vibe about it, but we are in the main restaurant, which is very busy, buzzy and presented in a smart pale orange and grey colour scheme. Wedgwood “Mystical Creatures” crockery graces our white linened table. It’s all very sophisticated! On offer is a conventional afternoon tea at £22 per head which includes finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and preserves and a selection of small cakes. There is also a taster menu tea at £50 per person and all can be adjusted to dietary preferences, meaning that vegetarian, vegan, gluten free etc are also catered to. There are tea choices and food extras for every taste. Thoughtful! We start off in a celebratory mood and order a glass each of Veuve Cliquot champagne to get things underway in appropriate style. When our three-tiered cake stand arrives with all the goodies, our eyes almost pop out of our heads. There’s so much!
The crustless sandwiches on white and brown bread are delicious. There’s roasted aubergine, cucumber, smoked salmon and chicken and chorizo or a spicy sundried tomato filling for non meat eaters. All very yum indeed. In an ideal world, I’d have perhaps liked a a tiny dollop of sour cream with the salmon and grated pepper over the cucumber, but that’s just me being an über fusspot, they are all quite lovely as they are. The scones, two each, are warm from the oven, light and superbly fluffy, and accompanied by clotted cream, raspberry jam and strawberry and passion fruit preserve. Strictly speaking, we are already quite full, but then there are all those gorgeous little cakelets on the top tier which need eating. Again, they are impeccable, pretty to look at and sensational to devour. They highlight the excellent skills of the patisseurs in the kitchen. This nitpicker would have liked to see a fruit tartlet in among the selection, and maybe also a cheesecake, a mini doughnut, perhaps, and a tiny éclair or two, but let’s not be churlish and split hairs. One piece of advice though, save the two tasty savoury little canapés which are served with the sandwiches for last. After all those marvellous sweet treats, you will appreciate them all the more.
Meanwhile, thankfully, the initially rather bright overhead lights have been dimmed and a little annoying pling pling piano background music has started up, but with all the animated conversations going on around us, it’s barely audible. The mood has turned romantic. We sit and savour the food, the atmosphere and each other’s company at our own thoroughly enjoyable private tea party. As dusk settles in and the cocktail hour strikes, we ask for our bill. It totals £88.31 including service, two afternoon teas, two glasses of champagne and a supplementary charge for my green tea. While this may seem expensive, once you deduct the booze and the off main menu tea, it’s actually really good value for the amount and quality of food we have consumed. Afternoon tea at The Ham Yard Hotel is certainly a delicious, delightful and memorable indulgence, fit to celebrate such an important event as the wonderful Lovely Husband’s birthday! Hip hip hooray!
What I wore
Wide-legged navy Armani trousers, navy/withe polka dot Lisa Campione shirt, orange Hermes belt with gold coloured buckle, orange patent Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes, orange Hermes Birkin, navy jacket (not shown).
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