Luxury hotel The Stafford London has launched a sophisticated new afternoon tea, served from a brand-new bespoke cake trolley for an added sense of theatre and occasion. Guests choose their own cakes and pastries from new recipes created collaboratively between The Stafford’s Head Pastry Chef, Magdalena Velczenbach, and chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen, who oversees the menu at The Stafford as well as being Executive Chef of Michelin-starred Northcote in Lancashire.
The new cake trolley is presented tableside, with each guest able to select five seasonal cakes or pastries from the display. These include a slice of the impressive signature Earl Grey and honey layer cake and delicacies such as cherry and coconut mousse; a raspberry, apple, and elderflower macaron; coffee choux bun; a lemon and basil tart and a vanilla & raspberry white mouse.
There is a lovely story behind the white mouse in the cake selection; it was the name given to New Zealand-born British agent Nancy Wake by the Gestapo during World War II, as she kept dodging the traps they set. Nancy lived at The Stafford in her later years and had a regular seat in The American Bar, now marked with a bust and plaque commemorating her incredible achievements.
Once selected, the cakes and scones are served on a traditional cake stand alongside elegant finger sandwiches of smoked salmon with horseradish crème fraîche on granary bread, honey roasted ham and mustard mayonnaise on onion bread, and a truffle egg bun. Plain and fruit scones come with whipped clotted cream and strawberry jam, alongside an unusual, delicious savoury version: Westcombe cheddar scone with a soft cheese and chive spread.
(Just one of the many classy little touches that mark The Stafford out as a cut above your average afternoon tea; as the last bite of the savoury items passed our lips, a member of their team materialised tableside with clean plates for the sweet items.)
There is a good selection of fine teas from Camelia’s Tea House (or coffee if you prefer). We went for one of their signature teas, the St James's Blend; a black tea with a subtle smokiness and flowery notes which we felt balanced the sweetness of the cakes really well.
Speaking to Alex (one of their lovely staff at the desk) about the fascinating story of 'The White Mouse' Nancy Wake, he offered us a tour of their wine cellars. Fabulous in their own right, there is also a dining room area available for private hire and tunnels full of WWII posters and memorabilia, honouring their use as shelters during the war. It's amazing how much goes unseen beneath your feet, even in the very centre of London.
The Stafford’s new afternoon tea is served daily from 12pm to 5.30pm, priced at £70pp or £87pp with a glass of Louis Roederer Collection 243 Champagne. All cakes and pastries are also available to enjoy individually in The Stafford’s lounge.
Address: The Stafford London, 16-18 St James's Pl, London SW1A 1NJ
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Deputy Editor, Chatting Food London: Amanda David
Amanda David is a freelance food writer specialising in London’s restaurants, bars, exhibitions and events. She is the Events Editor and a contributing writer for London Cheapo and a regular contributor to Palate Magazine.
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