Monday, October 28, 2013

Afternoon Tea @ The Covent Garden Hotel

I've lived in the UK for six years now (six years!!!) but I never, ever get tired of taking afternoon tea. Cakes, scones, finger sandwiches, you know, tea - what's not to love?

Because John's been pulling some ridiculous hours at work for the past week and weekend (think: 4:30 a.m. starts and 11 p.m. finishes, sometimes 12 a.m.), I decided to treat his exhausted self to a Drift Away massage treatment at The Covent Garden Hotel followed by afternoon tea in the hotel's beautiful restaurant.

The Covent Garden Hotel is one of my favorite boutique hotels in London - but then again, I'm a fan of all the Firmdale Hotels, evidenced by the fact that I organized Suzy's baby shower at Number Sixteen in Kensington last year. Handily located in the middle of Seven Dials (where all the chic boutiques and cafes are located, and where I always find myself in a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure kind of quandary as I inevitably get lost), The Covent Garden Hotel's interior resembles an English manor house - without the stuffy, heavy fabrics or outdated furniture. Instead, the textiles and upholstering are cheery but smart, and the decor is elegant yet understated. I could hang out there forever.

Anyway, on to the good stuff. While John was in the process of "drifting away", I ducked into the Wolsey pop-up shop on Monmouth Street and bought my brother a Christmas present (a luxe, leather and canvas gentleman's wash-bag, if you care to know) and tried on a few dresses at Orion. By the time I came back, John's treatment had finished and he emerged, yawning and hair-rumpled.

I got down to business and ordered the "Covent Garden Afternoon Tea", which consisted of a selection of mini sandwiches (cheese and pickle, chicken salad, avocado and smoke salmon wrap, ham and mustard), two scones (one plain, one with currants) with clotted cream and jam (strawberry and raspberry), and the cakes, which you can see above. John opted for the "Gentleman's Tea", which sounded lip-smackingly good: mini fish goujons with fries, mini club sandwich, a mini crabmeat burger, and a scotch egg, all served with a mini slice of cake and a Meantime Pale Ale, if desired (at an extra supplement), plus your choice of tea (he chose Lapsang Souchong).

Ladies and gentlemen, I had major food envy (except for the scotch egg - I'm not a fan of scotch eggs). That crabmeat burger was delicious - spicy and tangy. And the mini fish fingers were to-die-for.

As for mine? I loved the scones, and the sandwiches were pretty tasty too (it helped that the waitress appeared halfway through to ask if I would like any "replacement sandwiches" to replenish my stock - two thumbs up for that). But you know? I was kind of disappointed by the cakes. Where pastry or sponge was involved, it was dry and crumbly. I didn't love the mini-meringue, as pretty as it was, and I didn't touch what I assumed to be a rhubarb custard tart. I gave my mousse to John as it looked unappealing and far too rich (which he confirmed to be the case). A bit of a shame, really, as I've had tea twice at Number Sixteen and it seemed that the quality and selection of cakes were far better there.

Oh well, I shouldn't complain. It was fun anyway, since it had started to rain and we had the perfect seats for people-watching out the window. Covent Garden is such a fun place to browse - I feel super lucky to have worked near there for practically my whole career.

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