London is best experienced during the summer. The flowers are in bloom, people are happy and linger outdoors – dining or enjoying their local park and a cheeky pint – long into the evening. Summer also brings a plethora of events to the city, and Wimbledon has to be the biggest.
As the city dresses itself in purple and green – the traditional Wimbledon colours – tennis fever takes hold. Bright yellow tennis balls adorn rooftops, people gather across the city to watch the games in pubs or on the big screens, and restaurants begin to plate up a whole new array of quintessential British dishes.
In my case, I was hunting down one of the most British of all dishes – the afternoon tea – and there’s no better way to experience it than with a little splash of Wimbledon on the plate.
There are literally hundreds of places across London to go to for afternoon tea – and I’ve been to some great ones, including TĪNG at the Shangri-La – but it was the Wimbledon themed afternoon tea at The Ampersand Hotel that caught my eye.
Known for the quirky afternoon teas, like a Science-themed one, complete with liquid nitrogen and dinosaurs, and beautiful five-star boutique rooms, just minutes from the heart of South Kensington, it sounded like a winning combination.
Located on the hotel’s ground floor in The Drawing Rooms, the cosy room is blended with grey, turquoise and pops of red, with a contemporary British feel. The Drawing Rooms overlooks Harringdon Road, so be sure to scope up a bay window for some people watching as you enjoy your afternoon tea.
At the back of the room, there were trays and trays of delicious looking sweet treats. Chocolate discs decorated in dried fruits and nuts, muffins, meringues sprinkled with dried strawberry, luscious chocolate cakes and the cutest gingerbread people I had ever seen.
But it was time for tea!
I ordered Jasmine Silver Tip tea (a light refreshing white tea blend) to pair with the towering tiffin that soon appeared on the table before me.
The three layer tiffin shook up the classic expectations of a British afternoon tea. White bread sandwiches were replaced with brioche buns, classic scones were filled with chunky chocolate pieces and the top layer – well, we’ll get to that in just a minute.
I had to resist tucking into the top tier of Wimbledon-themed sweet treats, and eagerly began with the lower level of sandwiches. Gone is the white bread and in are soft, slightly sweet, brioche buns.
The four sandwiches were composed of H. Forman & Son London smoked salmon, with dill & cream cheese; coronation chicken; cheese with fruit chutney; and Gloucester old spot ham, with a sauce gribiche.
Personally, I’m not much a fan of brioche buns but could appreciate the high-quality fillings and flavours.
The second layer was composed of homemade white chocolate and plain scones served with Devonshire clotted cream and homemade strawberry preserve.
Can I just take a moment here to say how much I loved the chunky white chocolate pieces in the scone? Coupled with a short, biscuity flavour, topped with the Devonshire clotted cream and the rich, sweet strawberry preserve; this twist on the classic British scone was taken to the next level.
Adorning the top tier of the tiffin was a mix of Wimbledon traditions. A classic Pimm’s cocktail shot, dainty strawberry and cream tart (strawberries and cream are a British summer tradition), purple and green Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club insignia macaron, and an iced gingerbread tennis racket.
It was the centerpiece that really showed the creativity of the chef behind the afternoon tea. A coconut cream tennis ball, filled with a sweet passion fruit puree center, on top a grass-coloured lime cake ‘tennis court’. It was sweet, sugary and delicious – everything you crave for when enjoying this cheeky afternoon delight!
Experiencing an afternoon tea in London is a must do experience, so why not try one that showcases innovation and tradition together? That’s exactly what you get from The Ampersand Hotel!
The Ampersand Hotel
10 Harrington Road
London SW7 3ER
Cost: Priced from £32.50 per person, or £44.50 with a glass of champagne.
The Wimbledon afternoon tea will be available 27th June through 17th July.