Review: The Stage at The Londoner

by Charlotte McGaffney

The Londoner is a stunning 5-star super boutique hotel, right in the heart of London’s theatreland and overlooking Leicester square. We went behind the scenes to meet the Executive Development Head Chef Shailesh Deshmukh  and to try the new spring Afternoon Tea. 

The first thing you will notice about The Londoner's Afternoon Tea menu is the avant-garde flavours of some of the pastries. For the Passion of green pineapple, coriander leaf jelly mixes with poached pineapple. The Austrian Sacher torte features chocolate with just a hint of cumin. Executive Development Head Chef Shailesh Deshmukh says that he has used some of the theory that he picked up in his last role working with Indian cuisine to influence the creations. We try some of the sugared cumin seeds, which are placed on the torte. Whilst in theory you wouldn’t necessarily expect cumin seeds on a sweet pastry, in practice it reminded us of the enjoyable spice of nutmeg or cinnamon in baking. 

Around the time you’re contemplating your first cup of coffee (or indeed tea!) at eight in the morning, Afternoon Tea preparations at The Londoner are already well underway. The chefs have checked how many guests will be attending and the patisserie prep has started. Between the intricate sweets from the Afternoon Tea – some of which made over days, the banquets for three hundred people plus, along with the usual meal services, the kitchens are always hustling.

Seated in The Stage above, you would never know. Cosy, chic and moodily lit with a mirrored ceiling, guests can settle into the plush velvet armchairs none the wiser of the activity below.  The pastries are on display in a glass cabinet ready for your perusal, architecturally impressive featuring aesthetics like swooping swirls of chocolate and cascades of caramel.

The Afternoon Tea is served with teas from the East India tea company’s loose-leaf teas. We opted for the very refreshing ‘fruit punch’ tea, and the Assam on our hostesses’ recommendation. There is a wine list as chosen by the inhouse sommelier. We had the Gusbourne Brut Reserve 2020, an English sparkling wine with flavours of green apple and brioche, a perfect accompaniment for the food, if you can make it last!

tea pot with with sand tea timers

An amuse bouche to begin, a refreshing palate cleanser with green apple, cucumber and mint.

The sandwiches are presented on an art deco square stand, each cut into squares. The tea smoked cured beef with watercress and horseradish crème on brioche was a particular favourite. We tried a round of the Vegetarian sandwiches also, with the kimchi sandwich being the winner of the day.

The Londoner overall has a very modernist feel, but the scones are traditional, fluffy and light, with just the right balance of butter crumb, one plain and one sultana. The strawberry preserve particularly impressed as it somehow perfectly captures that perfectly ripe fresh flavour of strawberries at the peak of their season. Lucious lemon curd is also on offer and of course, clotted cream.

Then it’s on to the patisserie! The Fallen Coconut has a delicate chocolate shell, crack open and discover inside a layer of the silkiest coconut rum mousse and fresh mango and passionfruit cutting through. You would be surprised to learn that the ‘Opéra au café a l’orange’ is both vegan and gluten free. Based on a traditional French layer cake, decadent chocolate and orange jam come together to make a cake that’s beautifully constructed and delightfully indulgent.

The biggest challenge Deshmukh faced when designing the pastries was incorporating matcha in to one of the cakes, as it’s not a flavour he enjoys, but he took the challenge happily. Out of each of the patisserie, it took the longest to develop, through lots of trial and error. The end result of which, he’s very proud of and with good reason. Layers of decadent matcha ganache, topped with a hibiscus and strawberry gel, finished with a crème fraîche Chantilly. Even the matcha haters can’t deny this one!

The Afternoon Tea is easily Deshmukh’s favourite element of working in the Londoner’s kitchens he says. It’s a joy which very much carries through to the Afternoon Tea patisserie and experience.

Find out more about The Stage at The Londoner and book here

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Charlotte McGaffney

Charlotte is the Digital Marketing Manager for AfternoonTea.co.uk. Off duty, she blogs about wine at everydaydrinkingwine.com.

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