It reads on the pristine menu, ‘An English Original’ – one wonders whether that refers to the quintessentially English nature of this afternoon treat or the hotel itself? As Chewton Glen represents everything that is classy, clipped, slick and delicious in England, be that luxury holidays, exotic breakfasts, lunches (see Enjoy’s Chewton Glen Weekend Luncheon review in this edition), afternoon teas or dinner.
In this instance, the Afternoon Tea in the Dining Room – which has had an uprising in recent years and a rather on trend way to spend the afternoon, not forgetting the fact that Chewton Glen has always presented one of the most elegant and imaginative selections of finger food, fizz, teas from Tregothnan (the first British home-grown tea), and fabulous service after 1pm, and this version is no less remarkable!
Our visit is a family one, and let that nudge you as this is such a charming way to spoil oneself, so why not do that with your nearest and dearest? Either way, with friends, family, partners, or a gift this is a real treat and something just that little bit different.
We have a choice of Nyetimber English Sparkling Wine, a G&Tea Nàdar Gin and Tonic or a Laurent-Perrier Rosé Afternoon Tea… we spread the love and, as we enjoy a mix of French and English fizz the amuse bouche is something to behold! A warm Old Winchester and truffle miniature soufflé – almost too perfect to devour, only for a moment! It is light, subtle and a perfect way to start the afternoon.
We are brought a meticulous selection of sandwiches; smoked ham, English mustard mayonnaise on granary bread, Flambards egg, mustard and cress on fluffy white bread, smoked salmon, horseradish butter on brown bread and Coronation Chicken with golden raisins, coriander on plump brioche. Oh, how we love a sandwich!
Then in an almost regal presentation the scones and pastries arrive towering over the table on a three-story plinth.
However, you like your jam and West country clotted cream – or indeed West country clotted cream and jam – these warm plain and buttermilk and golden raisin scones are out of this world! There was a choice of jam and lemon curd, the jam won hands down in the name of tradition, nevertheless the curd was exquisite.
The pastries are art-like to look at: matcha green tea and apricot cup-cakes, mascarpone, praline and espresso éclair and Amalfi lemon meringue tart – fortunately evenly portioned to avoid any inter-family disputes and a slice of cake from the infamous cake trolley (no one does a trolley like the Chewton Glen!) for each of us to take home.
The experience is all about the tea of course, but one must remember if that is the case, the service has been seamless, the attention to subtle details, for example more fresh milk and a cheeky top up without having to point it out, the team are faultless and attentive. We laugh, relax, and enjoy being spoilt in a treat that is so very charming and doing that with family brings back fond childhood memories.
Quite the evocative experience – most highly recommended!