THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
My first trip to a police station was not at all what I had imagined! No handcuffed criminals or line-ups behind one-way mirrors. Not even a mug shot! Of course, Great Scotland Yard hasn't been home to the Metropolitan Police in over a century, and even then it was only the rear entrance! Now it's a 5-star luxury hotel and a gorgeous place for afternoon tea.
The Parlour is beautifully kitted out. Comfortable sofas and high-backed chairs are of impeccable quality. Potted palms and exotic wall paper in the light-filled room create a perfect setting for my favourite English tradition. And nobody shouted, "Up against the wall!"
Service is wonderful. Our waitress was absolutely charming and her colleague brewed a perfect cuppa. Between the two of them, we were well looked after.
The Ruinart Champagne Afternoon Tea is 60 quid and worth every pound. Or rather pounds. I came out half a stone heavier than when I went in! The assortment of pastries is irresistible.
Ruinart Blanc De Blanc is an elegant Champagne. Pure Chardonnay, the soft stone fruit is balanced with citrus, the bubbles are intense and the finish dry. We were happy to have a second glass!
The savoury selection is a splendid variation of the norm which we enjoyed with a cup of excellent jasmine tea. Crab, dressed in lime, chilli and crème fraîche is served in a milk bun. A showstopper right off the bat. Smoked salmon and tarragon chicken came in traditional, crustless sandwich style. The salmon was overly simple but the chicken perfectly flavoured with tarragon, which can so often be overpowering.
The gougère was the best I've ever tasted. Perfect choux pastry with molten cheese inside, almost like a fondant. When I go to heaven, this is what they will serve me for all eternity.
Last, venison pâté en croûte with blackberry chutney was another sensational bite. The balance of sweet, savory and sour was spot on.
Plain and raisin scones were slightly over-mixed, losing the crumb. Copious amounts of Cornish clotted cream and the best dark berry and elderflower jam more than made up for it.
Then came the sweets. OMG!!! I couldn't possibly eat them all but boy did I try! Vanilla, cherry and dark Valrhona chocolate was an exceptional take on the black forest classic. A crisp cookie tartlet filled with a jasmine cream and topped with strawberries tasted of summer. My favourite, a creamy black currant, yogurt and frangipane gateau, just exploded with flavour. A mini mango macaroon and a sweet and savoury biscuit were 2 beautiful bites and finally a rose and pistachio drizzle cake gilded the lily. Inside the cake, a sesame paste added a savoury note. Lovely. A super smooth cup of oolong tea was a perfect companion to all the sweetness.
Waddling outside, I must have looked like a drunkard. Thankfully, there wasn't a copper in sight!