The Italian-owned Baglioni Hotel London do everything with a Mediterranean touch, and their afternoon tea is no exception. I recently went to check out how the Italian backbone of the hotel influences their menu, and even took an Italian friend along to verify its authenticity.
On arrival, we were seated inside with a view over the Bellavista Terrace, where I’d previously sampled the hotel’s aperitivo menu. Though we were safely indoors, there was plenty of natural light brightening the atmosphere. Since this was an Italian take on afternoon tea, it was only natural that we had a swift espresso before moving onto the main event!
It was back to British tradition with the tea selection, The Baglioni thankfully choosing not to rest on the continental reputation when it comes to tea.
I chose a crisp and refreshing Superior Oolong, while my friend thoroughly enjoyed a Granny’s Garden, coupling fruity rhubarb with Bourbon vanilla. Other teas on the menu include classics such as English Breakfast and a Darjeeling Earl Grey, along with a fruity green tea (Morgenteau) and Mint & Fresh, a minty number with a hint of lemongrass.
When the food arrived the subtle Italian touches began to shine through. Both the sweet and savoury offerings had an Italian twist, like the panna cotta and semifreddo based desserts and the grilled Mediterranean vegetable focaccia. The latter was absolutely to die for – my friend even said it was as good as back home. A compliment indeed!
Traditional sandwich fillings accompanied the Italian savouries, including cucumber and cream and oak-smoked salmon.
One of the more cheeky Italian touches was the Nutella we received alongside the usual jam and clotted cream for the scones. We decided to be experimental in smothering our scones with both the cream and Nutella. It turned out that the coupling was surprisingly moreish!
The Italian influences certainly didn’t overwhelm the experience. The presentation was of a traditional afternoon tea, with food on tiered trays and tea in delicate cups and saucers. But the Italian touches gave the menu a certain panache to make the experience completely unique.
In this respect The Baglioni has done well to avoid the pitfalls of a “fusion” afternoon tea that might fail to deliver on the traditional elements which everyone expects in an afternoon tea. As well as a fantastic focaccia, their clotted cream was among the best I’ve sampled and the scones were crumbly and fresh. The traditional sandwiches were equally impeccable.
Afternoon tea at the Baglioni London is also one of the better value for money afternoon teas too, at only £28.50 per person for the standard menu in an authentic 5 star setting. Anyone wanting to try it should book now, while it remains relatively under the radar.
Photo credits: LHI blogger Rajul.