If 2020 was the year of pyjamas, 2021 is the year of the UKation. We postponed our trips abroad and searched out aquamarine waters, quaint countryside getaways and boutique city stays closer to home. There's a lot on our doorstep if you know where to look. The Staycation Afternoon Tea at St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar by Searcys perfectly encapsulates this as the menu features a variety of delights that champion English produce.
My guest and I eagerly anticipated our Afternoon Tea as we'd only been for out for food once this year. It was fun to have an excuse to get dressed up, and to wander through the hustle and bustle of St Pancras station.
St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar by Searcys is tucked away at the top of the station next to the Eurostar and enjoys a serene atmosphere underneath the Tracy Emin neon light installation - 'I want my time with you'. We were led to our booth by the friendly maître de. We noted that the tables are well spread out with plenty of space in between each group of diners.
We settled into our booth, very spacious and comfortable. Chilled glasses of Champagne arrived and then the pots of tea. There are lots of teas to choose from - I chose Earl Grey and my guest opted for Darjeeling. We noticed the 'press for Champagne' button on our table - perfect for those moments where you require Champagne!
The Staycation Afternoon Tea starts with a small plate consisting of Searcys own smoked salmon sourced from a small family-run smokehouse in Aberdeen, with a crisp rye bread, pickled cucumber and a horseradish cream.
This was cleared away and seamlessly, a beautiful suitcase decorated with vintage maps appeared. Our server carefully opened it up and assembled it to feature our Afternoon Tea!
The sweet stand looked tantalising but we were sensible and started with the savouries. We had three delicate finger sandwiches each - egg and cress, cucumber and cream cheese as well as chicken salad. We agreed the cucumber was our favourite. Next up, salt beef on a piccalilli brioche bun. We finished the savouries with the Celtic prawn cocktail bridge roll.
Is it possible to tuck in to scones without debating which is better - cream first or jam first? If it is, it hasn't happened to me yet. My guest opted for jam first (to taste the cream first). I am staunchly cream first (you don't jam your toast before buttering it, do you?).
Sometimes it can be a bit too much to progress to the sweets after the scones, but these are a nice manageable size. One each of plain and fruit, lightly dusted with icing sugar and served with strawberry preserve - and that all important Cornish clotted cream.
We eagerly set on the pastries. First up, a raspberry macaron, with the lightest meringue and a perfectly chewy center. Then the éclair, with the fluffiest choux and filled with a tart passion fruit cream. The chocolate slice was delightful with layers of mousse and decorated with cherry soaked sponge. We finished with our favourite, a buttery chocolate tart with perfectly crumbly pastry but a well balanced citrus edge.
With lots of nods to excellent English produce, the Staycation Afternoon Tea is the perfect celebration of the delights you can find locally. We sat back, in the comfortable booth completely satisfied and planned our next UK adventure.