I was lucky enough to win a Champagne Afternoon Tea at the Ampersand Hotel, Kensington in a competition I entered through Afternoon Tea Online who kindly organised our visit. The hotel has offered Afternoon Tea since opening only last August and I invited my mother to join me for the experience. And what an experience it was! The hotel receptionist pointed us in the right direction towards the Drawing Rooms where we were warmly welcomed. This room is lovely and light with ‘wacky’ bright paintings on the wall, large-print wallpaper, bird-patterned and stripy armchairs, comfy sofas and cushions. The room had a nice relaxed feel to it.
We were shown to our seats, although if we wanted to sit somewhere else this wasn’t a problem as it wasn’t busy. We were lucky to be seated in front of the fire which was nice and cosy as there was still snow on the ground outside. Once sat on the large sofa, we were served with a glass of Moët champagne before ordering afternoon tea which came in a glass teapot. There are two champagne afternoon teas on the menu, ‘Classic’ and ‘Chef’s’, so we chose one of each.
The Classic menu offered savoury Tartines but on this occasion these were replaced with open sandwiches on a thin slice of sourdough bread. The Chef’s menu included Gougères which are little choux balls and it was nice to have the variation of both menu’s. These you would think were sweet tasting like that found in chocolate profiteroles, but in fact they weren’t and they were extremely light and airy with a savoury filling inside.
For both, the choice of fillings were Gloucester old spot ham with sauce gribiche (which I’ve come across a lot recently), coronation chicken with lettuce cheese & fruit chutney and Seven & Wye smoked salmon with dill & cream cheese. Neither of us are huge fans of salmon so we swapped these for an extra coronation chicken. Both the open sandwiches and the Gougères were very fresh and tasty. Our teapot was topped up frequently with fresh hot water – without us asking for it. We normally drink our tea with milk but the tea wasn’t very strong so we drank it without and it was lovely, you could taste the flavour of the tea much better.
Next were the scones. On the Classic menu were home-made scones, one plain and one containing currants, with jam and clotted cream. The Chef’s menu included a white chocolate scone in addition to the plain. We had one of each and with the jam and cream on top I couldn’t tell the difference, but both were equally crispy on top but light, fresh and melted in the mouth beautifully.
Last, but not least were the cakes! Each afternoon tea had a selection of 5 mini desserts/cakes. As they were quite small it was difficult to cut some of them in half so with those that couldn’t be cut we chose our favourites. On the Classic menu the selection consisted of: chocolate brownie with peanut honey ganache, lemon meringue tart, Victoria sponge cake, fruit cake and English breakfast tea chocolate bonbon. And on the Chef’s: spiced redcurrant macaroons, coconut financier, cinnamon apple tart, chocolate cupcake & cream cheese frosting and blood orange & meringue. There wasn’t a dessert we disliked but our favourite had to be the chocolate brownie with peanut honey ganache.
Now, considering that we had taken almost 3 hours to eat all this everything stayed very fresh and had not dried up at all. It needn’t take that long so don’t be put off thinking you won’t have time to get any shopping done – as it’s quite close to Oxford Street and only 2 minutes away from The Natural History Museum and Harrods – we arrived late in the afternoon and as it wasn’t busy we took our time, savouring the food, soaked up the atmosphere and relaxed.
We had a fantastic afternoon at the Ampersand Hotel and truly enjoyed the food on offer. We were left feeling very relaxed and our stomachs satisfied. The Classic menu is priced at £26.50 (without champagne £16.50) and the Chef’s is £27.50 (£17.50). We can’t wait to have afternoon tea at the Ampersand again and we found ourselves discussing our next visit before heading home.
Living life, loving cake,