I still clearly remember 12 May 2013, the day I experienced my first ever Afternoon Tea, which was a treat from my husband. I had read all about the Prêt-à-Portea Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley in the press and been going on about how amazing it looked and so he had picked the Spring/Summer Collection 2013 as a surprise treat for us to try together in what was called The Caramel Room at the time.
As it was my first experience of an Afternoon Tea in London, memories of it have stuck with me forever and it is so special to me. When I showed a photo of our experience to Head Pastry Chef Mourad Khiat on a recent visit, he immediately recognised it, even down to the details of which designers had featured in it, which was amazing considering how many seasons of the Afternoon Tea have run since!
Fast forward five years, my friend Angie and I were invited to experience the Spring/Summer Collection 2018 together in the stunning bright and spacious Collins room, and we started the afternoon with a chilled glass of Laurent Perrier each. Angie had actually first experienced the Afternoon Tea in 2007 and its success is down to it being so unique as well as a favourite for fashionistas, as it draws inspiration from the latest catwalk trends each season.
We started our afternoon of indulgence with a delightful selection of savoury treats that included Smoked duck, shaved manchego, pineapple jam, horseradish and brioche, Cornish crab, Tête de moine, pickled pearl onions, sea purslane with a lemon emulsion, and Miso seared yellowfin tuna with white asparagus, peas, gooseberry jelly and a smoked dashi consommé.
The Berkeley Tea Sandwiches arrived next and there was a really generous selection of sandwiches such as Roast corn fed chicken with spring onion and celery emulsion on onion bread, Cucumber, garden sorrel and brown butter Boursin cream on white bread, which was my favourite, Duck egg mayonnaise with mustard cress on white bread, Juniper smoked Scottish Salmon with pickled veg, horseradish cream and watercress on rye bread, Peppered Pastrami with beef tomatoes, basil, cream cheese on granary bread, which was also amazing, and finally Grilled aubergine with piquillo peppers, olives, feta and hummus on tomato bread.
After the savoury course, I switched to my favourite Lemongrass and Ginger Tea and waited excitedly for the sweet treats to arrive. I love the anticipation of whats to come!
The pastry stand certainly had me mesmerised as it arrived and it was an absolute showstopper! It was so colourful and everything was so intricate and made to perfection.
Celebrating this season’s colour, hot pink, was Tom Ford’s celebrated hot pink stiletto, on the top tier, on a crumbly chocolate biscuit base. The biscuits always make me smile as when Amit and I had our first Afternoon Tea, he had been too shy to eat the Tory Burch biscuit bikini at the time! There is also a vibrant yellow swimsuit vanilla flavoured biscuit inspired by Miu Miu.
Elie Saab’s sparkling sunglasses, which are made out of chocolate, sat upon a tuille biscuit filled with a seasonal favourite of raspberry cremeux and summer berry compote.
Richard Quinn’s upside down black forest gateaux dress in a chocolate cone, layered with chocolate and vanilla cream and garnished with fresh cherries and florescent flowers was sublime.
Dolce and Gabbana is a show stopper not just on the catwalk but also on the cake stand with an almond sponge layered with apricot jelly, rhubarb confit and orange blossom cream. That’s not all, it is topped with a chocolate Queen of hearts too!
Erdem’s chic summer style is represented with a scrumptious Valrhona Caramelia mousse with hazelnut daquoise and salted caramel upon a cocoa sable glazed with Gianduja mirroir. Sparkling with gold flakes and topped with a red sugar bow, this was my absolute favourite sweet treat from the selection with everything I love in one pastry!
Making its first debut at Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley was a beautiful pink glittery butterfly handbag cake inspired by Aruna Seth.
The one that caused a stir when I gave a sneak peek of the selection on my Instagram grid was Versace’s exotic bavaroi encased in mosaic joconde sponge, topped with an eye catching rainbow meringue and a sugar framed image of Marilyn Monroe. It is definitely creativity at its best!
Last but not least we were refreshed on a hot summer’s day with a super cute baby pink chocolate frill Ralph and Russo wafer cone filled with pineapple and kalamansi supreme topped with white peach ice cream. Almost too adorable to eat but we couldn’t resist!
The attention to detail is just incredible and each pastry is a work of art. Pastry Chef Mourad Khiat is an absolute genius and it is amazing to see how each season’s trend is translated into a delicious morsel of delight using such intriguing flavour combinations, colours and designs. I can’t wait to see what the next season is like!
The Afternoon Tea is perfect for anyone, whether you are a fashionista or not, as it is just perfection from the service to the amazing selection that you get to indulge in, whilst in a gorgeous room flooded with natural light. This was my third visit and I know that it will remain one of my favourite Afternoon Teas in London for a long time.
Prêt-à-Portea is served at The Berkeley from 1:30-5:30pm. Priced at £52 per person (£62 including a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne or £70 per person including a glass of couture champagne).
If you want to learn how to make some of these treats there are masterclasses available which are priced at £225 per person and are available every Wednesday and first Sunday of the month from 2-4pm.
To make a reservation for Prêt-à-Portea call +44 (0)20 7107 8866 or visit https://www.the-berkeley.co.uk/restaurants-bars/afternoon-tea/
The Berkeley | +44 (0) 20 7235 6000 | The Berkeley, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RL