Art-Inspired Afternoon Tea at The Rosewood
While looking at Banksy’s latest artwork or a Rothko painting, did you ever think to yourself and wonder what it must taste like? The Rosewood’s Executive Pastry Chef Mark Perkins had just this thought, as he carefully selected five modern artists and their works to represent his afternoon tea desserts.
Afternoon Tea Virgin.
I’ve lived in London for about five years now and have to admit I’d never been for afternoon tea before. I was always meaning to go. Occasionally I’d read an article about a new place, I’d see pictures of the Mad Hatter Tea at the Sanderson Hotel, the beautiful Palm Court at the Ritz, and the iconic Thames Foyer at the Savoy. The stuff of dreams.
But since I had never been, I couldn’t work out where to start. Although it seems hard to go wrong, I wanted to know which was the best. The crème de la crème, the one place you absolutely have to go. And to answer that, I realised I’d have to start at the beginning. Now at around £55 a head and assuming I’m not tea-sipping alone, that would be a very expensive question to answer.
And that’s pretty much how those five years went by. I wondered also if it’s an age thing, that I was simply too young to take my girl friends and cough up £55 each for some tea and snacks. It seemed more like something that mothers would take their daughters to, or that families would do while on vacation in London. Anything that “normal” families would do you can already just assume that means my family didn’t.
And so of course it makes perfect sense that my first afternoon tea experience would be in super traditional fashion! I often feel like the only white sheep among my black sheep family. I went with my new godmother, as I recently got baptised Greek Orthodox ahead of my Big Fat Greek Wedding. Unlike me, she is a highly regular afternoon tea goer, so I had the double benefit of having an expert with me to share her opinion.
Edible Art Pastries at the Rosewood
The Rosewood launched a new concept for their afternoon tea this February. I saw the photos from their press event and it looked like nothing I’d seen before while trolling afternoon tea circles and instagrams.
Each dessert is a work of art, literally! Executive chef Mark Perkins was inspired by London’s vibrant art scene. Selecting five of the most iconic contemporary artists whose works are currently displayed in London, he created the incredible new tea offering at the Rosewood.
The five artists are Yayoi Kusama, Banksy, Damien Hirst, Mark Rothko and Alexander Calder. As our waiter presented us with the works of art, I mean the desserts, he asked if we could guess which is which. Three out of five isn’t bad.
I didn’t know what to expect, putting something so beautiful and so carefully created into my mouth. I had read that Mark Perkins’ worked on the concept for over three years.
The Banksy ‘Girl with a Balloon’ cake is a white chocolate cube, filled with vanilla cream choux, salted caramel and chocolate cream. Once you crack the cube casing, the caramel and chocolate oozes into your mouth, creamy, salty and sweet.
Kusama’s cake is milk chocolate mousse bursting with passion fruit and Calder’s red cake is a combination of coconut mousse and raspberry sponge.
To say that the experience was impressive is an understatement. While places like the Ritz and the Savoy may do a more classical interpretation of afternoon tea, the Rosewood surely deserves a spot within the Top Three for afternoon tea in London. My expert tea co-drinker, between numerous oooh’s and aaah’s, told me so.
We took a glass of rosé Ruinart champagne, later ordering a second and regretting not having gone for a bottle. They also have an excellent selection of teas. Scones are served with the pastries, accompanied by clotted cream, lemon curd and jam.
Sandwiches are served before the desserts and they were also quite incredible. This is where my expertise comes in, as I’ve been eating sandwiches since I was a pup. Each sandwich finger was in a different type of bread with five different fillings. I’m going to comment on them individually because they were so good.
Ham and Cheese. The cheese was distinctive, strong but not overwhelming. Of the hundreds of ham and cheese sandwiches we eat on a regular basis, with limited variance between them, this one made me raise my eyebrows. It was ham and cheese, yes, but it was different. The quality of the Le Madru ham and choice of Comté cheese made it stand out.
Coronation Chicken. A little trivia, coronation chicken got its name as it was prepared for the banquet of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. It’s a sandwich filler using cold chicken, creme fraiche and curry, and sometimes contains raisins or almonds. It didn’t disappoint neither. Succulent and very tasty.
Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese. Prepared in a flat bread with a twist of lemon, this was my godmother’s favourite. Classic and faultless.
Egg Mayonnaise. I never eat egg mayonnaise. I ate this one. If I recall correctly, which is a challenge after the champagne, it had baby sprouts or spring onions, something like an onion but lighter and subtler. The sandwich was delicate, tasty and delicious.
Tomato and Basil Pesto. This was one of my favourites. It was just so fresh, the pesto just salty enough to bring out the flavour of the tomato. Bellissimo!
The hotel itself is also stunning. I took a bunch of photos…