The switch has flicked, and autumn is upon us. The linen shirts have been put away, and thoughts of wooly jumpers are surfacing. The crap weather is slightly less annoying, as at least there are genuine reasons as to why it is allowed to be crap. In a counterpoint to the first cuckoo of spring, teeth are ready to be gnashed at the sight of the first Christmas decorations in the shops.
Autumn also means the return of Downton Abbey to ITV on Sunday nights, together with its comforting cliffhangers. Will the new footman put out the wrong spoons? Will Matthew make himself a social pariah by buying some fish knives? Will Lord Grantham lose all his money fall into destitution, penury and ruin? Or will the various Deus ex machina spring into action and save the day? (No, I’m not willing to take bets on any of my predictions.)
To celebrate the return, the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane have launched a Downton Abby “Upstairs – Downstairs” Afternoon tea, and for the first two telephone bookings received (for two people only) on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday until November 11, the price will be Grosvenor House’s very own 1920 Afternoon Tea price (the same year in which Downton Abbey series 3 is set) of £2.25 pp (regular price is £35). To show us what was on offer, the hotel invited us along to give it a go.
It’s been a while since I’ve been out for afternoon tea – it’s really not something that a non-tourist seems to do, but there actually is something rather lovely about going out for tea. Apart from being a perfect first date, it is a rather charming way to spend a couple of hours. The Park Room looks out over Park Lane, giving excellent opportunities to gawp at the passers-by (and have them gawp back), but it’s a well proportioned room, with a lovely relaxed feel.
We chose from a range of teas, but we did think that the £7 supplement for speciality tea was a bit cheeky, and started with the refreshing amuse bouche of a fruit salad of melon and mango. This was followed by the arrival of our tea, and three plates: sandwiches, scones and bread and cakes.
Of the sandwiches, we especially liked the smoked chicken and the shrimp, and couldn’t resist seconds. The white bread rolls were had a hint of sweetness and together with the scones were a good vehicle for the generous quantities of clotted cream, lemon curd and jam. Of the cakes, the spicy bread pudding and raspberry tartlet were the stand outs.
One minor disappointment, though. The Lady Mary’s madeleine wasn’t cooked fresh to order which H (queen of madeleines) thought was essential.
Service was charming and attentive, with second helpings of everything being offered.
However, as a pleasant way of spending an afternoon, it’s hard to beat, so even if you don’t have a maiden aunt to amuse for the afternoon, it’s worth considering the Grosvenor House Hotel for tea, especially if you get a converted £2.25 spot.
Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea £35 per person (£2.25 for the first 2 bookings per Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday until November 11)
86 Park Lane,
London W1K 7TN
Tel: 020 7399 8452
Fuss Free Flavours was the guest of Grosvenor House. Many thanks for a delightful afternoon.