Afternoon Tea at Seven Park Place in St James
The hunger that hits right in the middle of the afternoon, between lunch and dinner, can be quite troublesome and awkward to satiate. The London food scene seems to have taken this inconvenience right into its stride by reviving the culinary trend for afternoon tea. As with most crazes, quality can be overlooked and missed altogether and there is no shortage of less-than-average afternoon teas being served in London. Seven Park Place, however, is not one of them. Tucked away in the glamorous area of Green Park sits the St James Hotel, home to Seven Park Place, the UK’s smallest Michelin-starred restaurant, and it is here that Chef William Drabble masterfully runs the show and where we enjoyed a spot of tea.
The table in the sophisticated bar was set in a perfect window nook, with white table cloths, napkins and crockery, as any classic afternoon tea should be. The tea then arrived, a Darjeeling and an organic Bohea Lapsang, both brewed perfectly and piping hot. Then the stand was delivered in its towering glory, the savouries at the bottom and the sweets towards the top. The sandwiches were of the classic variety. On white there were cucumber and cream cheese, and egg and watercress, both delicious on perfect triangles of fresh bread; the brown bread selection of salmon and cream cheese, and ham and cheese, had satisfying fillings but the bread itself was a little stale.
Next tier up was the dainty Raisin Tart, filled with plump dried fruit and which wonderfully sticky from a thorough rum soaking. Alongside that was the Battenberg, which was expertly chequered and had a mild almond flavour; the Lemon Cake, decked with a lemon custard, was refreshingly tart and broke up any over-sweetness from the rest of the treats.
On the top tier was the Strawberry Tart, set on a Madeleine-like base smeared with gooey mango puree; needless to say it was great, as was the petite Apple and Almond Cake. Finally, the Chocolate and Hazelnut Cupcake was dense with chocolate chips and iced with a beautifully creamy chocolate buttercream. The scones, served in a silver basket alongside the cake stand, were light and had a comforting buttermilk flavour to them. The addition of homemade clotted cream and strawberry jam made for a perfect finish to the meal.
If ever you need an excuse to treat yourself to an afternoon tea, Seven Park Place is the place to do it. The hotel is beautiful and the members of staff are so welcoming that you’d be tempted to stay longer than you should. Truly a wonderful way to banish those pesky mid-afternoon hunger pangs.
Photos: Monika Jørgesen
Seven Park Place: 50/60
To book a table at Seven Park Place, 7-8 Park Place, St James SW1A 1LS, call 020 7316 1615 or visit here.