We felt like we were stepping into the set of a James Bond movie when visiting Rosewood London’s famous Mirror Room for High Tea Society.
Tucked away off busy High Holborn in a beautifully refurbished hotel, the décor in the Mirror Room is decadent yet modern – exactly how you’d also describe the Art Afternoon Tea on offer there. The work of a different modern artist has inspired each of the five miniature gateaux included in the high tea. These creations, by Executive Pastry Chef Mark Perkins, bring together fine art and sugar with some very delicious results!
If you can drag your gaze away from the ceiling, which is covered in prism shaped mirrors and reflections from the dining room below, you’ll find your glass-top table set with crisp linen napkins, pretty silverware and Bernardaud crockery. I particularly liked the long couches and velvety booth seating that featured throughout, and the fresh flower arrangements on each table. After determining if you’d like a champagne or traditional high tea, the meal starts with a selection of finger sandwiches. These look very pretty on the plate, as different breads, including a herb infused bread, have been used to add some colour. I felt the egg sandwich was a little underwhelming – it wasn’t very full of egg filling and I couldn’t taste any chives. But the smoked salmon on toasted flatbread was very tasty and the Coronation chicken was moist, flavourful and came with a charming history of its development and significance in England delivered by one of our waiters.
The lovely staff had a lot of personality and plenty of passion for the quality of the high tea they were serving, especially for the imported Chinese loose-leaf tea on offer from a carefully curated tea menu. The staff were also very proud of Rosewood London’s scones, which they claimed were the best, especially as Tatiana, one of their most skilled scone makers, was on duty in the kitchen that day. I liked their enthusiasm but did not really believe how good the scones were…until they arrived at our table. Warm plain and raisin scones follow the sandwiches and they were wonderful. I normally have some critique for scones, but these were perfection. They were exactly the right size and height and looked glorious and golden on top. They were fluffy and flavoursome with just a hint of biscuity shortness on the bottom. They were served with strawberry jam, lemon curd and – my personal kryptonite – proper Cornish clotted cream.
Extra sandwiches and scones were offered, but with some regret, we declined any more of the superb scones and moved on to the namesake of the dining concept – the modern art inspired cakes. Five cakes were arranged on the top two tiers of a traditional high tea stand. Each represented one of the five selected artists: Yayoi Kusama, Damien Hirst, Alexander Calder, Banksy and Mark Rothko. Each of the creations was explained in terms of both how the artist’s work had inspired it and what flavours and textures it contained. There are also some cheat’s notes in the menu on each cake so that you can read up and pretend to be a modern art aficionado, if you’re so inclined.
My favourites (we are talking cakes here, not the artists) were the Yayoi Kusama and the Mark Rothko. The Kusama miniature pumpkin was bright and quirky with a beautiful soft chocolate mousse and passionfruit cremeux combination. The Rothko was built around layers of super moist coconut sponge covered with shards of pretty pink tempered chocolate.
The Alexander Calder mobile looked stunning and I enjoyed the cherry and pistachio flavor, but this quite delicate combination was a bit lost inside a thick chocolate shell. The Banksy, I’m told, is a customer favourite. It looked pretty incredible – a paint-splattered cube featuring the famous Banksy image of a little girl who has lost hold of a red balloon. Inside the cube was a crowd-pleasing combination of chocolate and salted caramel, as well as a cream filled choux pastry. It was definitely the best (and only) street art that I’ve ever eaten!
Rosewood London’s Art Afternoon Tea Menu:
– Smoked salmon, cream cheese and lemon
– Ham, comté and wholegrain mustard
– Coronation chicken, curry and sultanas
– Avocado, tomato and basil
– Egg, mayonnaise and chives
Plain and raisin scones served with Cornish clotted cream, strawberry jam and lemon curd
A selection of five miniature gateaux inspired by famous artists, currently:
– Yayoi Kusama, a milk chocolate and passionfruit cremeux layered dome
– Damien Hirst, a white chocolate, yuzu and cassis jelly tart
– Alexander Calder, a mobile of cherry, chocolate and pistachio
– Banksy, a chocolate cube filled with vanilla cream choux and salted caramel
– Mark Rothko, a raspberry and coconut sponge layer cake
A selection of loose-leaf teas, with the option to add a glass or more of champagne or rosé.
Rosewood London offers a truly five-star high tea experience. Service is elegant without being stuffy and the dress code is similarly stylish yet relatively relaxed. High Tea Society visited on Mother’s Day weekend in England and we were extra spoilt, as were all the mothers enjoying high tea that day, with chocolate truffles and a cheerful bunch of daffodils to take away afterwards. This was a lovely touch and epitomised the generous and personal service delivered in the Mirror Room. Art buffs and high tea lovers alike will appreciate this celebration of culture and cuisine in one of the loveliest venues in London.