I’m definitely not a regular for afternoon tea. I’ve only recently been able to get my head around the concept of brunch. It’s all a bit of a weird timing, isn’t it? As a creature of habit, brunch and afternoon tea alike bring to the surface an array of questions. Do you eat breakfast? Or lunch? How tipsy is acceptably tipsy, when sitting in your Sunday finest, sipping a herbal tea in the other hand and surrounded by scones?
I will admit that I have a good deal in common with the Duchess of Bedford, who invented the concept of afternoon tea in 1840 as it is said she consistently felt peckish around 4pm and couldn’t endure the long wait between lunch and dinner; (when am I not hungry). Plus, when am I equally not up for trying new things (I definitely survived a lot more adventurous struggles whilst travelling last year), so afternoon tea seemed like a small feat.
As you can see from the pictures, I was running on about three hours of sleep after a pretty heavy night prior. Still smiling though. The afternoon tea at the Sanderson is, as you can see, Mad Hatter themed. The dishes are black and white and quirky, the teapots wear their own little hats, and a tiny ballerina spins for you in the sugar box. You have to give it to the Sanderson, the aesthetics are impressive. Brightly coloured mushroom marshmallows top your cake stand, with matching jam of hearts, and chequered chocolate pieces. All very Alice.
All nibbles on offer have quaint names, like tweedle dee lemon curd financier, and Alice’s cinnamon, apple and peach ‘drink me’ potion.
Unfortunately, style definitely took over substance on this occasion.
Whilst the sweet pieces were pleasant, they weren’t mind-blowing. The savoury sandwiches were a letdown (both surprisingly soggy and stale at the same time). I did give my preference as vegetarian at the start, but somehow a small caviar sandwich still managed to slip its way on to my cake stand – in turn, the waitress was lovely and apologetic, and brought out free bubbles (normally 10 extra). The herbal tea selection was probably the highlight, all displayed on fitting card decks.
At £48 per person, the Sanderson provides a quirky visual afternoon out, but I wouldn’t choose to back, as after all, accompanying the Duchess of Bedford’s 4pm stomach rumbling – you are there for the cake, and the cake wasn’t amazing. Nonetheless, I’m glad to have ventured out for my first afternoon episode, and am thrilled to have found a sophisticated afternoon venture in London on which to continue blowing my student budget.
50 Berners St
12.30 – 4pm mon-sat
1 – 5pm sun