After what seemed like the longest 5 months, it was a breath of fresh air to finally see London reopening and revisiting some of my favourite venues around London. With the announcement of lockdown restrictions easing and indoor dining finally recommencing, I was excited to return to The Chesterfield in Mayfair, this time to experience The Original Sweetshop Afternoon Tea.
Inspired by Hardys Original Sweetshop, this whimsical and nostalgic afternoon tea celebrates the joy of rediscovering old favourites and traditional treats, capturing the magic of childhood trips to the sweetshop. This great British ritual took place in their Conservatory, flooded with natural light from the skylight above, the lamp posts and iron chairs giving a vintage feel to the space.
And what better way to celebrate this momentous occasion than by clinking glasses of delicate salmon-tinted Lanson Rosé Champagne.
From their luxurious tea selection, the Bespoke Fruit Salad Candy Tea immediately caught my eye, a wonderfully blended tea that tasted like Fruit Salad chews – the pineapple and raspberry flavoured childhood sweet in the form of a tea. It was already sweetened so there was no need to add extra sugar (unless you have an incredibly sweet tooth!)
We were also treated to a welcome drink, a theatrical smoking pink lemonade, topped with a sherbet-filled ‘flying saucer’.
Our much-awaited afternoon tea treats soon arrived on a three-tiered silver stand. I certainly missed that feeling of excitement of seeing food being presented at the table – oh the joys of dining out again!
Starting from the bottom upwards, the selection of freshly-made finger sandwiches included:
Honey roast ham with Cheddar cheese and tomato chutney
Roast chicken with grain mustard mayonnaise and nibbed almonds
Scottish smoked salmon with chive cream cheese
Free range egg mayonnaise and watercress
Cucumber, dill and cream cheese
We both really enjoyed the smoked salmon on beetroot bread, and roast ham sandwiches, and were kindly served an extra portion of each – I tend to try and avoid filling up on too many sandwiches, but sometimes it’s just too hard to resist a good sandwich… It also happened to be British Sandwich Week when I visited, so it only seemed apt to do so.
Having finished my first pot of tea, I then decided to go for The Chesterfield Afternoon Blend, a whole leaf, full-bodied version of classic English Breakfast Tea, that had a distinctive aroma of caramel and fresh toasted leaves.
The scones came in two varieties, the classic fruit scone, and its less traditional sibling (or possibly second cousin?) the chocolate chip scone. Now, a scone traditionalist might probably frown upon this (abomination? I think not…), but I for one am certainly a fan, and even requested for seconds. Rich and indulgent yet maintaining their light and fluffy texture, it made me reminisce about the decadent chocolate scones that I previously had at Kimpton Fitzroy. With such strong contenders to begin with, I now feel the need to compile a list of venues that serve chocolate scones for my own research purposes, as you do. Served warm and fresh from the oven, they were perfectly paired with generous dollops of Cornish clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam.
Finally we slowly made our way through the selection of sweetshop-themed homemade pastries and cakes, all of them (almost) too pretty to eat. There was a Coca-Cola slice, which was one of my favourite childhood sweets, a Reece’s peanut butter cup, a Drumstick macaron which had the vibrant packaging design imprinted on it, and a strawberry liquorice allsorts cheesecake. The taste of liquorice doesn’t usually appeal to me, but the flavour was quite subtle and combined with the flavours of strawberry was surprisingly quite pleasant. The classic Battenburg was given a contemporary twist, a vibrant blue raspberry and bubblegum. And last but not least, a couple of giant jazzies on lollipop sticks.
To top off the experience, we were invited to the sweetshop trolley for a fun pick & mix, our retro treats packed into candy-striped bags, which left us grinning like little children.
The Original Sweetshop Afternoon Tea is served daily from 12:30pm – 5:30pm, priced at £47 per person at the time of writing, with the option to upgrade and include a glass of Lanson Champagne. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are also available, as well as a children’s afternoon tea, for the budding afternoon tea aficionados.