A Bit Smarter Eating Out London

Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea at Conrad London St James

March 25, 2015

So I move to the home of the afternoon tea, the birthplace of the tradition, and until this point, I’ve only enjoyed one during my time in England. Yeah, I’m shocked too. Especially considering London offers everything from the traditional at the likes of Claridge’s to the more creative at The Berkeley. I went through a period where I seemed to be having afternoon teas all the time- I’ve sipped teas and nibbled at Hippopotamus and Martha’s Pantry in Wellington and even had an extravagant experience at the Burj al Arab’s Skyview Bar in Dubai but lately? I’ve barely lifted my pinky. 

Inspired by the Mad Hatter’s firm belief that it’s always time for tea, I decided it was high time for another round of tea and cakes. Feeling like a restless Alice on the riverbank that day, I thought a gloomy Sunday afternoon needed a bit of excitement and decided to take her lead down the rabbit hole and discover what edible delights were in store for us at Conrad London St James’ Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea.

Alice in Wonderland afternoon tea: jasmine tea and champagne on the table

We arrived to a beautifully laid out table in Emmeline’s Lounge and started our afternoon with a glass of G.H Mumm champagne while we chose our teas- jasmine silver needle, black tea with vanilla, and lemon and ginger. As these were brewing, our savouries arrived. First to be sampled were the smoked salmon and mini club sandwiches, and stromboli; all three were a little dry and disappointing. The curious oyster shells were actually a far from curious thin crostini type crisp, to be served with a smoked mackerel pate which I thought was quite pleasant.

Things looked up when we moved down a tier to the scones. Served with a Devonshire clotted cream, homemade strawberry jam, and a pink grapefruit curd, we all agreed they were delicious. Once you broke through that thin crust, the inside was light and buttery, just as scones should be. 

Next to arrive were the desserts, always my favourite part of an afternoon tea, this tray of whimsical cakes and pastries got me grinning from ear to ear. You cannot help but smile when you see the ‘eat me’ earl grey panna cotta or the mini toadstool lemon tarts; these also happened to be my favourite of the desserts. I’m really not an earl grey drinker so I was surprised to find myself disappointed when my spoon hit the bottom of the tea cup and I realised I had complied with the ‘eat me’ instruction a little too well. The lemon toadstools were zesty and light, and gone all too quickly in just one bite.

The other cakes were a little hit and miss; the ‘painting the roses red’ cake was pretty but a little dry, the elderflower macaron was an odd flavour which one of us described as a little medicinal (never, ever ideal in a cake), and while I liked the richness of the checkerboard chocolate truffle tower, I didn’t love the texture of the white chocolate section.

A bit like Alice’s adventures, this visit down the rabbit hole had some puzzling parts but it was also playful and fun. You should never need an excuse to relax over some tea and cakes but if you’re looking for one, why don’t you make a quick escape to Wonderland with Conrad London St James?

Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea is £35 or £49 with free-flowing champagne; you can book on their website or grab a special star deal at Bookatable. Just don’t leave it too late, Alice is only around until 10 May 2015.

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  • Shame it wasn’t quite as you hoped but the pastries look very cute.
    Lots of love,

    • I still had a lovely time catching up with the girls- that’s the most important thing isn’t it?! xx.

  • I love those “Eat Me” instructions, very tempting!

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    • I know- how can you not comply to a biscuit that says that?!?

  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    It’s just so pretty but it is a shame it didn’t quite tick all the boxes. I tried the Christmas afternoon tea there and it was lovely! I’m heading to Abu Dhabi soon and Dubai isn’t far – would you recommend the Burj Al Arab afternoon tea or did it not live up to expectations?

    • I know! Definitely not as good as it could have been but was still a lovely afternoon out catching up with friends and having a good old natter. So the Burj- I went a couple of years ago (pre blog days so I unusually don’t have every bite captured haha) but I do remember the food to be very good but it’s the whole experience- I’m probably never going to afford to stay there lol so this was a great way to have a nosey around…

      • Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

        Thanks! I figured it must have been pre-bloging! I keep changing my mind about whether to go or not. It’s so expensive but at the same time, it does sound very grand, but because I’m staying in Abu Dhabi not Dubai, it’ll be more than an hour each way to get there….still undecided as you can see but thanks so much for the info!

        • That’s quite an effort esp if you’ve got a lot of other stuff planned?! I was on a stopover and by myself so thought what the heck!

  • Looking very pretty but a shame about the dry cake. Not liking a cake is one thing, and sometimes down to a matter of taste, but there’s no excuse for a dry cake. It’s letting the side down.

    • Exactly. I wasn’t angry, just very disappointed.

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  • This looks like a fun afternoon tea and I love the eat me cakes so shame it wasn’t quite up to standard. My sister is a huge Alice in Wonderland nut so I was debating treating her to this for her birthday but I may just try to find another themed tea like the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory one instead which sounds fab.

    • I think the Sanderson may do a Mad Hatters afternoon tea?! Otherwise have you heard about the immersive theatre experience called Alice’s Adventures Underground? It’s on right now, friends have said it’s pretty cool… could be worth a look?!

      • Ooh I’ll check it out!

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