Adam Handling’s afternoon tea at Belmond Cadogan Hotel in Chelsea is an epicurean experience
Adam Handling has rapidly become a household name in the British food industry. After the critically acclaimed opening of the Frog next to the Old Truman Brewery, the chef first launched his flagship restaurant in Covent Garden, then he relocated the East London operation to Hoxton Square, turning it into three separate – but linked – outlets: a restaurant, a waste reduction-focused café and the Iron Stag bar.
His informal fine-dining concept reached the posh Chelsea too, where he takes care of the food and beverages at the Belmond Cadogan Hotel: from the luxurious bar and restaurant to the room service and mini-bars. And the afternoon tea.
Handling took inspiration from luscious childhood memories at his grandmother’s house, where he would be abundantly fed together with his family. This ambitious offering is developed with Chris Underwood, the pastry chef overseeing the entire group.
We start with a glass of champagne – a wonderful Louis Roederer Brut Nature, the bottle created in partnership with designer Philippe Starck – and, to respect the local produce, Adam Handling’s own sparkling from West Sussex. It would be unfair to compare them, but if you want to go local, the British bubbles will do.
The menu features an Oscar Wilde quote on the very first page: “I can’t stand people who do not take food seriously”, a more than welcome statement in this context. The experience starts with a custard and truffle egg, so delicious and refined. Every detail is spot-on – the tea set matches the playful elegance of the room – and the service is executed with effortless grace.
The savoury courses come on two plates sitting on a golden tree branch (that’s how I see it, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was something else); they feature sausage rolls, salt cod croquettes and cheese and truffle gougéres on one side, and the classic sandwiches on the other. The snacks are more fun than the sandwiches – the croquettes in particular – but how could it be a proper afternoon tea without them?
Onto the sweets, after a little palate cleanser of yoghurt, mango and lime. These are proper treats: the stunning mini apple Granny Smith and Lemongrass Cremeux; the heavenly Salted Caramel Sacher; and White Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse definitely sanction this as a very special afternoon tea.
It goes without saying that there’s great attention paid to the tea selection too. We go for the Oriental Oolong – a deep-fermented tea grown at 100–150 metres – and a delicate, floral Darjeeling. The options are many, covering any style, from white to green varieties.
Adam Handling’s afternoon tea at the Belmond Cadogan Hotel is an epicurean experience; it begins quickly and then it takes its time to let you enjoy your stay at this boutique, luxury West London hotel. It’s a feast but it feels subtle and personal. The Scottish chef clearly knows what he’s doing.★★★★★
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Adam Handling Chelsea Afternoon Tea, 75 Sloane Street London SW1X 9SG, call 0208 089 7070 or visit their website here.