Scones In Suitcases: Travel-Themed Afternoon Tea Chugs Into St Pancras Station
You can hop on a train to Paris, Bruges or Amsterdam from St Pancras, but a new pop-up in the station wants to take your taste buds further afield.
The Art of Travel is a summer-only experience at the Searcy's Champagne Bar, on the upper floor of London's most glorious train station. While Eurostar trains chug in just metres away, welcomed by Sir John Betjeman, diners tuck into a travel-themed afternoon tea — served up in a suitcase.
The spread defies the norms of afternoon tea, not just by dodging a tiered stand, but by getting adventurous with the sandwiches. The York ham and wholegrain mustard on rye bread is a highlight, the bread offering an undeniable — but welcome — chocolate taste. The smoked salmon, chive and lemon butter crumpet is a bit of an odd one, the crumpet too thick and stodgy to sit well with the zingy salmon.
The European theme shines strongest in the dessert section, where German battenberg cake sits alongside macarons (usually thought to be French — actually Italian, we learn). If you've a sweet tooth, the deliciously smooth Belgian white chocolate mousse may well be the culinary highlight of your week, while the passion fruit Swiss meringue pie balances things out with a bit of a punch.
We adore the architecture of St Pancras, and never thought we'd have reason to criticise its seductive glass roof, but we will say this; eat up quickly, or the summer heat and conservatory-style setting will combine to reduce your beautiful snacks to quivering wrecks. Our chocolate opera has to be scraped rather than spooned, its chocolatey layers all running into each other, and while it doesn't affect the taste, it rather subtracts from the look of Parisian sophistication we're aiming for.
Being located in a train station, the bar is restricted as to what it can implement in terms of decoration, but the map tabletops are a thoughtful touch, offering those not in possession of a Eurostar ticket the chance to indulge their wanderlust. Make sure you get a good look at the map before your food arrives though — the sprawling afternoon tea set-up takes up the entire table (did we mention it's served in a suitcase?).
Elsewhere, stacks of pastel coloured suitcases are set up to tempt in the Instagram tribes, and 12 tables have each been labelled with a city name, a directional signpost stating how many miles away it is.
If you've only time for a drink before your train, peruse the passport menu, a cleverly-designed cocktail menu heavily infused with Veuve Clicquot champagne and Sipsmith gin. Our pick is the orange and ginger G&T, a surprisingly sweet orange, ginger and chocolate concoction. Just make sure you can still see straight enough to board your train, eh?
The Art of Travel pop-up at Searcy's Champagne Bar, St Pancras. Until 9 September 2019. Afternoon tea is £26 per person, advance booking required.
Last Updated 23 July 2019