I love afternoon tea 🙂 I think I say that I ‘love’ every food or meal which I write about but it’s true.. I suppose that it’s no surprise that I love afternoon tea given how much I love cake! When I was younger I was much more into savoury foods.. I’d happily go without chocolate yet I’d get through bags and bags of crisps, but since meeting Marcus I’ve developed a huge sweet tooth and now I can’t imagine going a day without chocolate! I’ve been to quite a few places around London for afternoon tea, and I’ll admit that it’s ridiculously overpriced but there’s just something that I love about it. The cakes and sandwiches are always so dainty, I’m a complete sucker for a soft freshly-baked scone smothered with clotted cream and jam and it’s so nice to relax with endless pots of tea spread out over the afternoon.
I’m always drawn to the places which offer unlimited refills too (obviously..!), though I must admit that for the premium you pay, you could probably order several lots of afternoon tea from more reasonably priced establishments! The price of afternoon tea also seems to vary hugely depending on where you choose to go – I’ve had some very good afternoon teas for as little as fifteen pounds per person, but I’ve also been to one of the more expensive hotels such as the Chesterfield Mayfair and I think it set me back about forty-five pounds per person.. and then they added service charge!
GONG is the most expensive afternoon tea I’ve had in England (though the Burj al Arab managed to beat it on price!) but I went with Marcus and we thought that it was worth paying for the view since we’d never been up the Shard before. GONG is one of six bars and restaurants at the Shard and like many venues in iconic buildings it has a minimum spend and a maximum stay if you choose to go there. On the 52nd floor, it’s the highest bar in London and offers three lofted areas; a cocktail bar, champagne bar and an infinity pool! As soon as you enter the Shard, there are people ready to escort you to the elevator and we were free to explore a little before going up to the bar. The views from our table were beautiful, and we were lucky enough to have chosen a rare sunny afternoon to go 🙂
I think the menu varies slightly by season, but this is what was on offer when we went 🙂
Scones – plain and Earl Grey served with clotted cream and strawberry jam
London smoked salmon yuzu crème fraiche on wholemeal bread
Roasted organic chicken, grain mustard and gherkins on seeded bread
Organic egg mayonnaise, winter truffle and cress in a white roll
Cucumber, green apple and cream cheese on white bread
Cornish crab, smoked paprika and chives in a brioche roll
Cheesecake – Double cheesecake, yuzu infused sponge, yuzu orange marmalade
Strawberry and basil – pistachio frangipan, basil infused chantilly and fresh strawberries
Chocolate and Caramel – Caraïbe chocolate mousse, salted caramel centre
Blackcurrant and Violet Macarons – Blackcurrant jelly, violet cream, blackcurrant and violet ganache
White apricot tea infused cream with apricot compote
I loved that the cakes and pastries had a twist to make them special, yet they didn’t stray too far from traditional afternoon tea. The yuzu flavour was amazing! I’d never had it before and it had a subtle mandarin flavour – it featured in some of the desserts, but it actually worked perfectly with the smoked salmon! Needless to say we asked for seconds.. and thirds of almost everything!
The service was okay, but not as good as I’d expect in such an expensive place. When I’ve been for afternoon tea in the past, the waiter/waitress has talked through each of the cakes and pastries to explain what each one is, which is nice to know when each one is so intricate and so much effort has gone into incorporating different flavours. We were also made to feel a bit awkward when ordering extras of the things we wanted – maybe they weren’t used to it, as generally looking around I noticed that a lot of couples didn’t even finish what was on the original tower (let alone ask for more!) but I always think that it’s nice to be offered more, rather than having to ask for it.
I have to admit that I actually left feeling sick! I was so determined to get extras of everything I liked the most (which typically was almost everything!) that I got a serious sugar rush and took quite a while to recover! It was definitely worth it though, and I’d recommend it for anyone wanting to do something a little bit special. The views are beautiful, the food was amazing and it was a lovely experience 🙂
Would I recommend it? Yes
Worth going out of your way for? Definitely – it’s the highest bar in London with a beautiful view.. and there’s unlimited cake!
Would I go back? Probably in the future for a special occasion 🙂
Link to their website: http://www.gong-shangri-la.com/afternoon-tea/