Thursday, 19 March 2015

Chocolate afternoon tea Tiger Brasserie Hilton Green Park.

Afternoon Tea Review - Chocolate Afternoon Tea, Tiger Green Brasserie, Hilton Green Park

Chocolate afternoon tea at the Tiger Brasserie Hilton Green Park.  Bought on an offer £39 for 2.    Usually £34 a head.

We tea ladies love chocolate almost as much as we love tea.  We have already tried one “Chocolate afternoon tea” which was a little disappointing in it its lack of chocolateyness (it's a word, honest), so we were hoping that the Hilton would give us the full choccy hit.
The room is a cosy hotel bar, with comfy seats and unobtrusive music.  The staff were charming and friendly.  We were brought a selection box of loose leaf teas to choose from and were encouraged to smell them to make our choice.
Although the selection of teas was small, refills were offered, and we could choose a second tea if we wanted, so Charlotte had Green Long Jin and then a Jasmine Pearl, both were good.  Mo had Darjeeling followed by Earl Grey with Lavender.  The latter was a bit odd, the flavour didn’t quite work.  Dave (deputising for Caroline) had Russian Caravan followed by Rooibos with Orange and Cinnamon which smelled amazing.  The teapots were rather clever - they came with a built-in gadget to lift the leaves out of the water. 

 We were also given a Twinings tea-timer set so we could brew our teas for the correct amount of time, which was a nice touch.  24/30
We were told upfront that we could have refills of the sandwiches for £3.50  each, which, while not as good as the endless free refills at more expensive places, was a good compromise.  However, we were only given 4 finger sandwiches each, which seemed a bit poor for the only savoury course.  The selections were Egg and Cress, Chicken and Mustard, Cucumber with a hint of mint and Smoked salmon.  A fairly traditional selection, quite basic but done well with good, consistent fillings.  The bread was a bit of a let-down as it was just a standard sliced bread but the overall quality was decent.  17/30
The scones were fresh and served warm – one plain and one chocolate chip, in-keeping in with the theme.  They were quite small and a little overbaked and the chocolate chip one was a little stodgy.  The jam was good but the cream was whipped – not clotted!  We would have liked to see some chocolate spread alongside the jam, we feel they missed a trick here.  18/30
The cakes fitted in very well with their theme, as they all contained chocolate in some way.  There was a chocolate macaron, an ├ęclair with chocolate cream filling, a chocolate cupcake, brownies and a white chocolate and raspberry pannacotta. There was also a little packet of chocolates for us to take home, with a discount voucher for dinner there, which was a nice touch.  The quality of the cakes in general was excellent, and the chocolate ├ęclair was especially good, We were very happy that they had stuck to the theme at the same time as providing a varied selection.  This was definitely our favourite course.  27/30
Overall, we enjoyed this afternoon tea experience.  The ambience was good, the service was friendly and unobtrusive and there was no sense of being hurried so we had time to enjoy ourselves.  We probably wouldn't pay the full value for it (£34), as it's not really at the high end of afternoon teas, but if you can find a good deal for it, then it's well worth it. We wouldn't say that this was a venue for a special occasion, but definitely a nice place for an afternoon with friends, especially if they're chocolate lovers.

Pros                                                                              Cons
Good tea, nicely presented                                  Small selection of teas
The theme was done well                                     Scones were poor
Excellent cakes                                                         Small amount of sandwiches


8 out of 10

Monday, 16 March 2015

Mini Review - Corus Hotel Hyde Park, with a glass of Cava

Mini Review - Afternoon Tea at the Corus Hotel Hyde Park, with a glass of Cava - £32 per person
This is a mini review because only one Tealady (Charlotte) was present.
Corus Hyde Park Hotel 
This afternoon tea was bought for me as a Christmas present, so, realising it was about to expire, I took Honorary Tealady Dave along to the hotel on a Thursday afternoon in March.  I assume that the fact it was Thursday was the reason for it being completely empty.  There were some hotel guests finishing lunch in another section, but we were the only ones having afternoon tea in the (cobweb-strewn) conservatory, which overlooks Hyde Park (with a main road in between).

The worst thing about this experience was the service - we'd been there 40 minutes before we were given food, and then the sandwiches weren't what we'd been told.  As I don't eat red meat, we had to send them back as I could only eat one of them.  At least we both had a glass of Cava to keep us going.

The tea, which also took a long time to arrive, was not done well.  The selection was okay - 12 teas on offer, 4 of which were herbal but they had 2 greens and a flowering tea (£1 extra). The pots were small but the inner baskets had been filled with tea leaves, so both my Milk Oolong and Dave's Winchester Breakfast (Assam) were over-brewed.  We asked for pots of hot water but couldn't save the tea, which was unfortunate, as the initial taste had been good.

When the correct sandwiches arrived, we found that the food on the whole was good.  The sandwiches were Cucumber, Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese, and Ham and Mustard on either white or brown bread.  They were well filled and the smoked salmon was in good proportion to the cheese.  There were 9 between us, followed by two plain scones each, and a variety of cakes: a strawberry tart; French Fancies; a plain meringue with strawberry decoration; and individual carrot cakes with buttercream filling. 

We enjoyed most of this, our only complaint being that some of it had clearly been left out for too long - some of the bread on the sandwiches had gone dry, and the 'fresh' strawberry on the macaron had seen better days.  The cakes were definitely the best part though, clearly home made, and very well done, we particularly liked the layers in the French Fancies:
Although we could have as much tea as we wanted, top-ups of the food cost extra, but we actually found that they had provided a good quantity for us and we didn't need anything more.
All in all, this was a decent afternoon tea, which was let down by poor service.  As well as the food taking a long time to arrive and the badly-brewed tea, we could hear staff arguing in the kitchen, another customer complaining about their order being wrong, and we were isolated from the rest of the restaurant, so couldn't even see the staff let alone get their attention.  I wouldn't pay full price for this and I'd really have to think twice even to buy it at a discount - there are so many places that do a comparable afternoon tea, and this hotel really doesn't have much to recommend it over any other.  I'd give it a 5/10 (6/10 if they sorted their service out).