Clocks Away: Time Doesn't Quite Stop At This Flowery New Afternoon Tea
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London's not short of an afternoon tea or two, and believe us, we've eaten our fair share. So we can't fathom how it's taken us this long to stumble across the culinary wonder that is a blue cheese scone.
Topped with a hefty spoonful of tangy onion chutney, it's one of the highlights of the new Time Stops Here afternoon tea at 146 Paddington.
The concept of Time Stops Here is exactly that — somewhere to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the adjoining Paddington station. And while that works to some degree, thanks to a peaceful dining room and staff who are attentive without being overbearing, there's one area where the concept fails: Clocks.
Whoever designed the decor ticked all the trend boxes with flower walls, pastel-hued macaron picture frames and ornate birdcage stands, but was let down by their clock obsession. Several beautiful but non-functioning timepieces adorn the walls, in an attempt to 'stop time' and force diners to live in the moment. In reality, the opposite happens — every time we catch a glimpse of a stopped timepiece, we glance at our own watches to check the real time, not because we have anywhere to be, but just because.
But to the food. The meal is served on a traditional three-tier stand, with sandwiches on the bottom (hello, halloumi), scones in the middle, and desserts on top. Unfortunately, time doesn't stop for long enough to prevent nature running its course on the chocolate ice cream and mango sorbet finale, and again, the reality somewhat mires the good intentions.
Your average afternoon tea guests are going to take at least half an hour to reach that top tier, by which time, all thoughts of ice cream solidity have long since left the building. Even the prestigious Pierre Marcolini name stamped on the lid cannot stop the inevitable melt (although he does make exceedingly good macarons, served alongside).
That blue cheese scone may be the highlight of the afternoon tea, but it's up against some stiff competition. The mini beef steak pie is the mouthful of comfort food you need on a chilly autumn afternoon, and the avocado and beetroot crostini does a solid job at endearing itself to a sworn beetroot hater. Despite most of our Scone Stomach™ being given over to that blue cheese offering, we're pleased to see the underrated chocolate chip scone making an appearance too (take note, other afternoon tea chefs).
Just leave your watch at home, eh?
Time Stops Here afternoon tea @ 146 Paddington (right next to Paddington station). £36 per person/ £46 with champagne, booking required. See the menu here [PDF]. Find out about other new afternoon teas launching in London this month.
Last Updated 09 October 2019