Indulge Your Downton Abbey Fantasies At This Glamorous 1920s Afternoon Tea

Nineteen Twen-Tea Afternoon Tea at The Palm Court ★★★★☆

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 57 months ago

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Last Updated 16 October 2019

Indulge Your Downton Abbey Fantasies At This Glamorous 1920s Afternoon Tea Nineteen Twen-Tea Afternoon Tea at The Palm Court 4

Fans of Downton Abbey and The Great Gatsby, take note. There's a new, 1920s themed afternoon tea in town, so expertly executed that even Maggie Smith's sour-faced Lady Violet might be forced to crack a smile.

The Nineteen Twen-Tea take inspiration from the history of its setting, The Palm Court restaurant in the Sheraton Grand Park Lane. Built in the 1920s, the structure was briefly known as 'the birdcage' when construction paused for a few years, and winged wildlife took up refuge in its skeletal frame.

Fast forward nine decades and there's a lot more than millet on the menu inside the decadent dining room,  although the dainty warbler-themed china and birdcage tiered stand are a clever nod to the building's less salubrious past.

Beyond the tableware though, the menu itself offers its own nod to the 1920s. A refreshingly tangy Waldorf salad roll is an homage to the invention that came out of the kitchen of New York's Waldorf Astoria in that decade, while a Union club sandwich imitates the predecessor of our modern club sandwich (the teased turkey fails to materialise in that one though, an unexpected slice of tomato taking its place).

Unavoidably flaky pastry makes the smoked mackerel mousse vol-au-vent rather hard work, but the roast pumpkin and spinach puree quiche gives out far more civilised flavours than its name would suggest.

The scones come with clotted cream, two types of fruity jam, and a lemon curd that seems to have left its punch behind in the kitchen. No matter though — we're already making eyes at the dessert tier, a beautifully presented quartet of cakes and pastries.

Peanut butter lovers will adore the peanut butter and jelly macaron (apparently PB sandwiches were quite the rage in the 1920s — who knew?). The strawberries and champagne opera is inspired by the champagne-swilling flappers of Gatsby's era, but splits opinion at our 21st century table. There's not much to say about the pistachio and blackcurrant Paris-brest, a non-descript mouthful that neither offends nor delights, but the best is saved until last. The chocolate and coffee tart offers the pinnacle of both the sweet chocolate and the bitter coffee, finishing our meal on a high.

Finished we may be, but we're not going anywhere for a while. A pianist tinkles away in the corner, atmospheric yet subtle, replaced by a harpist as the afternoon drifts away. The friendly staff are more than happy to let us lull in our food coma as we admire the decadent art deco surroundings — gorgeous stained glass, expensive looking chandeliers and a sweeping curved ceiling. It's Mayfair's answer to Downton Abbey, and we'd be more than happy to move in.

Nineteen Twen-Tea Afternoon Tea at The Palm Court, Piccadilly, W1J 7BX. £42 per person/£55 with champagne. Available daily, 12pm-6pm. See our full list of new afternoon teas to try in October 2019.