Afternoon tea, that most British of institutions, has been given an interesting new twist: a variety of dim sum replaces the sandwiches and scones, jasmine tea usurps the earl grey and, for what may be the first time ever, the menu includes sweet chilli sauce. This inspired new offering is being served throughout February at the Lobby Lounge, Crowne Plaza Hotel – The City, to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rabbit.
We start with wasabi peas to nibble whilst sipping a glass of champagne. These spicy little appetizers are closely followed by some incredibly tasty smoked duck, salmon and Chinese cucumber finger sandwiches and crispy duck spring rolls with hoisin sauce.
We move from champagne to some jasmine tea – a wide selection of teas, both Chinese and traditional are available. It is, however, the dumplings that really steal the show: Har Gao (king prawn), Sui Mui (pork loin and king prawn) and Spinach Har Gao, accompanied by char sui baau (fluffy white buns with a barbecued pork filling). These dumplings are all made individually in-house: the quality shows. We also have a selection of sauces, comprising soy, sweet chilli and hot chilli.
Tea finishes with a sweet selection, including coconut, raspberry and mango macaroons and strawberries: reassuringly at least one of our five a day is accounted for.
This afternoon tea is not only tasty and filling, but is guaranteed to keep you occupied for a long and lazy weekend afternoon. The ambience inside the hotel is well suited for lounging: comfortable chairs and little booths for 2 or for 4 people provide an atmosphere of privacy and comfort. We stay gossiping for over 2 hours with little idea of where the time had gone.
We should also mention the standard afternoon tea fare served at this restaurant is excellent: a combination of sandwiches and scones, with lovely touches such as a selection of salted and unsalted butter. It is, however, the selection of cakes – including mini éclairs and potentially the best chocolate fudge cake we have ever had - that make this standard afternoon tea one of the best we have seen in London.
By Rachel Philliips
Priced at £16.95 per person or £23.95 with a glass of Champagne, the set Afternoon Tea is available throughout the month of February from 3 pm – 5pm daily from the Lobby Lounge in the Crown Plaza Hotel – the City, 19 New Bridge Street, EC4V 6BD.
Image by Big Rock Cat via the Londonist Flickrpool.