The renowned French sculptor provides the inspiration for the Rosewood London’s latest creative take on an afternoon tea
What’s the background?
We were impressed when we first tried out executive pastry chef Mark Perkins’ art-inspired afternoon tea last year, in which the pastries take their cues from artworks on the walls of the top museums around the capital. And it seems we weren’t alone, with the Rosewood London picking up the accolade of ‘Best Contemporary Afternoon Tea’ of 2017. Continuing the successful concept, for this latest edition it has focused on the works of one artist in particular, Auguste Rodin, currently the subject of a landmark show at the British Museum.
Rosewood London impresses with its modern take on luxury, a nice counterpoint to the more traditional afternoon tea haunts, which can err on the side of stuffy. The tea itself is held in the eye-catching Mirror Room, resplendent with plush, comfy seating that offers a sense of seclusion from the other guests.
What’s on offer?
This time Rosewood London has partnered with famous Parisian tea purveyors Mariage Frères to offer a wide selection of brews, including a particularly beguiling blue number with rich undertones of spice. If you have trouble choosing, the lovely servers will bring you a different teas as you finish your pot should you wish, and are happy to recommend teas to match the flavours on offer.
The high production values – not only of the food but everything else besides – becomes immediately clear as soon as the sandwiches arrive, impeccably presented on a custom-built stand that reflects the sculptural nature of the cuisine. Here savouries come in the expected daintily sliced form, with crowd-pleasing favourites including cucumber and cream cheese and egg mayonnaise. Scones are similarly classic, which is all for the better as we’d be looking forward to the homemade strawberry jam and lemon curd.
Then follows not one – but two – courses of sweets. Starting you off gently is a plate of three miniatures, which while slightly more ‘simple’ in appearance than what is to come, is no less flavourful. A berry and violet macaron provided one of most impactful punches of the afternoon, accompanied by a slightly more subtle jasmine and vanilla choux and cute little lemon and lavender meringue tart, the floral undertones a nod to Les Fleurs du Mal, a collection of French poetry illustrated to Rodin.
The main event looks instead to the artist’s sculptures, which encompass some of his most recognisable works. Visually, you immediately turn to The Thinker, intricately rendered as a gravity-defying white chocolate column, concealing within earl grey-infused chocolate mousse and a chocolate sponge. While the execution was impeccable, we were more drawn to the flavours of The Kiss, featuring a white chocolate sponge counterbalanced with a tart raspberry and rose jelly, with a duo of elegantly intertwined marbled chocolate decorations representing the two lovers. We left the richest until last, ‘The Age of Bronze’, hiding beneath its patinated surface a mix of vanilla brûlée almond financier and chocolate mousse, where as with all the cakes, perfectly matched both style and substance.
Rodin afternoon tea, from £55pp, at the Rosewood London, 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN; rosewoodhotels.com