Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Afternoon Tea Review - Knightsbridge Green Hotel

Knightsbridge Green Hotel - 'Luxury' afternoon tea (includes a glass of Prosecco) £26 for two with a voucher

The Knightsbridge Hotel is situated, as the name suggests, in the centre of Knightsbridge, close to Harrods and Hyde Park.  It is a small boutique hotel and would be quite easy to miss if you were just walking past, which is possibly why they decided to put their afternoon tea area in the small ground floor room at the front, with a large window looking onto the street.  This is presumably quite good advertising for them.  However, our problem with this was that the room seemed to be nowhere near the kitchen, or in fact anything else.  The reception was further down the hall, the toilets were on the second floor, and halfway through the meal the waitress vanished and we never found her again, despite Caroline going and looking for her.

At the start, we were met by a waitress, seated and given glasses of Prosecco.  The tea menu was Twinings, a fairly standard selection although we were a bit bemused to see Ceylon listed under White teas.  Mo chose the Earl Grey, Caroline had Darjeeling and Charlotte chose the Green tea.  The teas were as you would expect, decent but nothing special.  The teapots were quite small though and when we needed more hot water we couldn't find the waitress.  19/30

The cake stands arrived promptly with a selection of sandwiches, cakes and scones.  The sandwiches were triangles of egg, cucumber and cream cheese and ham, cheese and mustard.  However, we had initally been asked if anyone had any allergies or dietary requirements and because Charlotte doesn't eat red meat, she was given smoked salmon sandwiches instead of ham and cheese.  These were very nice but caused a certain amount of jealousy.  We were also a bit puzzled as to why, if smoked salmon was available, they didn't provide it automatically as it's a much more traditional sandwich for an afternoon tea, especially when this was supposed to be a 'luxury' one.  For the other sandwiches, the egg was fine, the cucumber was drowned by the cream cheese, and the ham and cheese fillings were very meagre.  The bread was either brown or white, but clearly pre-sliced shop bought.  13/30

We were given one medium-sized scone per person.  There was some disagreement over whether these were fruit or plain.  Caroline and Charlotte definitely had plain ones but Mo swore she found a raisin in hers.  The scones may once have been nice but for some reason the chef had felt the need to toast them (possibly to disguise staleness?) So they were still hot even after we'd eaten the sandwiches, causing the cream to melt.  They were also crunchy.  Distinctly unpleasant.  In addition, the cream was very poor quality, yellow in appearance and slightly grainy in texture.  11/30

The cakes were a small petit-four style selection: a round sponge with cream inside, which we initially thought was a macaroon, this was unfortunately the best one; a chocolate brownie which was dry, not particularly chocolatey and burnt on the bottom; a layered tiramisu gateau which was unremarkable; and an eclair which was stale, dry and awful.  11/30 (only because the quantity was acceptable)
From the outside, the hotel looks nice but the room we were in was small and unimpressive.  It felt more like the breakfast area in a B&B, not the afternoon tea area of a Knightsbridge hotel.  What we had of waitress service was fine but not being able to find the waitress, even when you leave the room and go looking for her, is ridiculous.  We were there in total less than an hour as we didn't want to stay.  This wasn't even value for money at £13 per person, we would rather have gone to somewhere like Paul's for a cup of tea and a cake as it would have been better.  If we had paid full price for this, we would have been complaining loudly to any member of staff we could actually find.  A meal is not 'luxury' simply because you include a glass of Prosecco, and this was nothing like luxury.  This is clearly a hotel that is trying to cash in on the trend for afternoon teas.  We advise you to stay well away.

Pros                                                                     Cons

The Prosecco was nice                                   Awful food
                                                                             Missing staff
                                                                              No atmosphere 



3 out of 10

Monday, 10 June 2013

Afternoon Tea Review - The Ritz

Afternoon Tea Review - The Ritz, London £45.00

We were excited about going to The Ritz.  It’s one of the special ones in the afternoon tea world. Tea at the Ritz has a ring to it. It’s an institution.

However, because it’s so popular they have “sittings” and we could only get a booking in the morning 11.30 and had to be out by 1pm.

The setting is beautiful, lots of gilt and mirrors and a harpist (though the menu gave a detailed description of a pianist who would be playing!).  It is a surprisingly small room though, considering how popular their afternoon tea is, which probably contributes to their need for timed sittings.

The Ritz offers 16 teas – a reasonable range but a little disappointing considering some of the other high-end places we've been to.  Mo had Earl Grey, Caroline Russian Caravan, Charlotte, Green and honorary tea lady Dave had Darjeeling. All were well brewed and came in silver plate teapots with plenty of hot water to top up.  However, the teapots were not very clean, there were visible stains and there was no offer of fresh tea at any point.  23/30

We were brought a 3 tier cake stand with sandwiches and small cakes on the top which looked a little odd.  The scones were brought separately to keep them warm. The sandwiches were mostly good and we could have refills if we wanted.  The selection was ham, cheese, cucumber, chicken, smoked salmon and egg mayonnaise – all the ones we would expect and on varied breads.  The ham was particularly nice.  However, attention to detail was a little lacking (one still has a bit of crust on!). 28/30

The scones, though warm arrived while we were eating our sandwiches, which meant they weren't that warm by the time we started on them.  There were two per person, one fruit and one plain,  with strawberry jam  and plenty of clotted cream. 22/30

There was a small quantity of cakes on the top tier of the cake stand.  They all looked very appetising and in addition we could choose a slice of cake from the cake trolley.  The waiter with the trolley insisted on our choosing these cakes even though we had only just started our scones and looked disgruntled when we asked him to come back, so we had to choose far earlier than we'd have liked.  The cakes from the trolley were good and varied, but it was all rather  rushed.    There was a banana passion fruit dessert that divided opinion!  

We weren't offered refills of the cakes or scones at any point, possibly because it was coming close to the end of our sitting and the waiting staff were obviously trying to hurry us up.  21/30

The time constraint really seemed to affect the service which at times as a little obtrusive bordering on pushy.   We were constantly being hurried - our scones were brought too early, we had to choose our cakes just as we'd started on the scones - it wasn't at all a leisurely occasion and felt more like we were part of a conveyor belt. 

In addition, the details let them down.  Crust left on, teapots with stains, our table was wobbly, and, although that was sorted out for us it still added to the lightly shoddy feel.  Men must wear a jacket and it was very warm so Dave, our honorary tea lady felt rather uncomfortable.  At the end of our time, as we waited to pay, a large crowd was gathering at the foot of the steps leading to the tea room, waiting for the next session, which meant we were being watched as we finished our meal.  Also there are only 3 cubicles in the (very lovely) ladies’ toilets, which meant that we were delayed paying the bill as Caroline got stuck in the queue for nearly 15 minutes.  This may seem nit picking and petty but it IS the Ritz and we expected better.  The setting is lovely and it is nice to be able to say “Tea at the Ritz” but it falls short of the high standards it claims for itself and it is necessary to point that out.

On the whole, we were disappointed.  We expected better and we didn't feel the Ritz offered value for money.  We feel that you are paying more for the name than for the experience itself, so although it is nice to say we've had tea at the Ritz, we wouldn't choose to go back there.

Pros                                                                                      Cons

Nice Setting                                                                      Pushy staff, bordering on rude

It IS The Ritz                                                                    Time Constraints


8 out of 10