As Christmas lights are being switched on across the city and excitement builds around TV adverts and shop windows, one of my favourite indulgences are the various festive afternoon teas on offer, often as a reward from a rather hectic afternoon shopping along Oxford Street.
Lanes of London, by Marble Arch, has launched their festive afternoon tea, with a menu featuring traditional sandwiches, alpine-themed pastries, teas and prosecco. For £49, you get all of the mentioned, but with unlimited prosecco for 2 hours, which is a great deal in my books.
On a rather grey and dull Sunday afternoon, my friend and I decided to attempt some light shopping, which we abandoned rather quite quickly after seeing the throngs of shoppers along Oxford Street. Lanes of London couldn’t be better situated: right by Park Lane by Marble Arch. The space was smaller than I imagined, a cozy L-shaped room, but for a Sunday afternoon, it was the right mix of busy – enough for ambience – and quiet enough to escape the madness that was Oxford street and Winter Wonderland.
Our server kindly talked us through the menu, going through the selection of Jing teas from a wooden box with glass jars of the loose teas, offering suggestions like blending black and rose tea together.
A wooden platter with an assortment of sandwiches landed on our table. Firstly, a place that serves multiples of each type of sandwich ranks high on my books. It’s annoying when finger sandwiches and cakes need to be split 2 or 3-ways amongst your friends because that’s just how it’s served. The selection was traditional: a smoked salmon and cream cheese, a cucumber and butter, egg mayonnaise, and ham and melted cheese. They were done well, with fresh soft bread, delectable fillings, and no need fight over the coveted smoked salmon with my friend.
Next came along the rest of the afternoon treats, tiered with scones, German stollen bread, and pastries. I like think of myself as a bit of an expert when it comes to scones. They are an integral part of British high tea tradition and there’s nothing worse when a lacklustre scone comes your way. I knew we were on to a winner when I saw how they were wrapped with napkins to keep warm, and our server suggested to start with the scones, working out way up.
The scones were pillowly, soft, buttery, with the right firmness to the crust to withhold the generous lashings of spiced plum jam and clotted cream. By now my friend and I could not be happier, sitting in this warm oasis, alternatively sipping crisp prosecco and warm blackcurrent and hisbiscus tea, while we watched the some protest unfold across the street by Marble Arch. The stollen, is a German equivalent of the Christmas pudding, but lighter, with a circle of marzipan baked in.
The Christmas cakes were last: a chestnut mont blanc, snowman passionfruit mini cupcakes, and a clementine and chocolate mousse parcel. Just the right size, each cake had a unique flavour and wasn’t overly sweet. By now we had opted to try a black and rose tea blend, that was suggested by our server, which paired with the cakes really well.
The service was friendly and attentive and we’ve already made plans to come back. If you’re going to be stuck Christmas shopping on Oxford Street by Marble Arch or wandering around aimlessly by Winter Wonderland, there’s no better hideaway to recharge those tired legs.
Contact: Lanes of London – 140 Park Ln, Mayfair, London W1K 7AA. http://www.lanesoflondon.co.uk/