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The AfternoonTea.co.uk team recently took a trip to the luxurious InterContinental London Park Lane to sample their new High Coffee – an interesting twist on the great British tradition of Afternoon Tea.
Pioneered in Australia, the InterContinental London Park Lane are the first to introduce the High Coffee concept to the U.K, pairing specially selected coffees with a range of delectable sweet and savoury items.
And we think this one-of-a-kind experience is destined to steal the heart of British foodies in the same way it has captured the tastes of those Down Under.
It was a beautiful, sunny day as we gently strolled through Mayfair towards this magnificent hotel that stands at No. 1 Park Lane - an address that immediately signifies the venue's prestigious standing.
This 5-star hotel stands on the site of Queen Elizabeth's childhood home of 145 Piccadilly, and we took our High Coffee on the date of Trooping the Colour - an ideal way to celebrate Her Majesty's 92nd Birthday!
We were greeted at the stylish hotel entrance, before being seated at our table in the elegant Wellington Lounge by our friendly server, Emma. The airy Wellington Lounge is characterised by its large windows where guests can enjoy unparalleled views of the Wellington Arch in a seating area flooded with natural light that meant we could still enjoy the lovely weather. Our table featured a centrepiece of a retro coffee grinder to get us in the spirit for the High Coffee experience.
After informatively taking us through the menu, Emma served us our Salted Caramel Espresso Martini - the perfect way to begin an afternoon of decadence!
The cocktail has been designed to compliment the range of open savouries that were beautifully presented in a variety of lucid colours that brought some visual dynamism to the High Coffee. The sandwich fillings featured free-range chicken, celeriac and sweet pepper on buttermilk bread, heirloom tomato caprese, watercress pesto on a mixed olive roll and, intriguingly, a smoked eel, pickled red onion, caper aioli on a beetroot brioche roll.
The sandwiches perfectly balanced with the sweet, rich tasting notes of the espresso martini, with our personal favourite being the smoked eel. We were fascinated by this interesting item as soon as we saw the menu and it did not disappoint. Lovingly decorated with an edible flower, the smoked eel sandwich was bursting with flavour that stripped our pallet in anticipation for the next course of warm savouries.
The warm savouries came paired with a Caffe Freddo, which is a chilled espresso made with 85% arabica beans that delivered a bitter coffee bite providing coffee connoisseurs with that always welcomed caffeine fix!
Guests desiring a less intense coffee hit are not to worry either as the selection of warm savouries has been designed to work with the intense coffee flavour provided by the Caffe Freddo.
Savouries included a wild mushroom tumbleweed, sun blushed tomato spiral and our personal favourite of a lamb and rosemary pie. All savouries featured a delicious, melt in the mouth richness that balanced with the bitterness of the Caffe Freddo to smooth out the flavours and create a wonderful combination in the mouth.
After polishing this off, it was time for another pallet cleanser of a blood orange and ginger sorbet to ease our taste-buds into the sweet section. This came served in an elaborate glass jug, arriving at the table in a vast cloud of smoke that brought a fantastic layer of theatre to the High Coffee experience.
The sorbet had a delicious citrus bite and achieved its goal of resetting the taste buds, making us eager for the delectable sweet section to come.
Our foray into the sweet section began with a stalwart of the traditional Afternoon Tea experience: plain and fruit scones served with jam and clotted cream.
After an afternoon experiencing a fresh, quirky spin on the great British ritual, the sight of the classic scone felt like the return of an old friend, and, as usual, it did not let you down. Featuring a shiny finish that signifies a quality scone, this was everything a scone should be, balancing a lovely moisture with a fantastic chewy texture that whet the appetite for the full sweet plate!
The sweets had a decidedly chocolate theme featuring sumptuous items such as hazelnut opera cake, Bailey's chocolate eclair, black forest gateaux, macaron with salt caramel as well as a lemongrass and lime creme brulee to provide a delicious citrusy reprieve from all the wondrous chocolate-y flavours.
Our friendly server guided us through the order we should make our way through the delicious patisserie based on our beverage choices. For this course, we had to choose from a variety of classic coffee shop menu items ranging from cappuccinos to macchiatos. I opted for an espresso so was recommended to start with the salted caramel macaron, while my guest was recommended to start with the hazelnut opera since he had chosen a mocha.
Atypical of the rest of the experience, the coffee was superb, with the short shot of a rich espresso providing the perfect platform to indulge in the decadent sweets - my favourite being the pairing suggested by Emma as the salted caramel macaron perfectly complimented the bitterness of the espresso.
Once we had finished the sweet plate, we were served a digestif of the InterContinental London Park Lane's signature Caffe Coretto with a shot of your chosen liqueur to top off the afternoon. Me and my guest both chose the sambuca for the aniseed flavour that worked well with the richness of the coffee to bring to an end to our High Coffee experience.
Usually, an Afternoon Tea finishes with a tired stretch following an afternoon of pure indulgence and relaxation, however with the High Coffee you get the best of both worlds as you can enjoy the same decadence but finish with a caffeine buzz leaving you raring to go for the rest of the day - a coffee lovers dream!
High Coffee is priced from £42 per person. See here for full details.
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