Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, popularised afternoon tea in the 19th century as a way to combat that ‘sinking feeling’ during the late afternoon.
Today, there are arguably few better ways to catch up with an old friend than over afternoon tea – with Champagne.
So when Paramount announced it was now offering London’s highest high tea it was only a matter of time before I’d be booking myself in.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon the view from floor 32 of Paramount was as spectacular as it promised to be.
Sat at our table for two, my friend Emma and I spent an inordinate amount of time gazing out across the city. From the windows (which run from floor to ceiling by the powder room) you can literally see for miles. The Gherkin, The Shard, St Pauls are all laid out before you, seen from an angle you rarely get to enjoy.
And like the views, the food didn’t disappoint.
Of the items on the bottom tier of the slate cake stand the poached chicken with spring onion mayonnaise was a particular hit. Both Emma and I could have eaten a platter full of just them.
The piccalilli on the dry cured ham packed quite a punch, and the scones (both with raisins and without) were everything a good scone should be (light, moist and of a decent size).
There was something for everyone’s taste in selection of pastries and cakes – though for me you’d have to go a long way to better the three-tiered chocolate cake.
Now here I have a small confession to make. I’m not actually a big fan of tea. In fact I very rarely drink it. So when I do, I rather expect it to be something special. Which the pot of flowering Osmanthus most certainly was.
When it arrived at our table in a chic glass pot the flower looked a bit like a floating green mushroom. Within minutes though, it had opened up transforming into a pot-filling orange flower. And not only did it look rather pretty it tasted delightful too with sweet notes of apricot and mango.
We had opted to have a glass of Champagne with our afternoon tea and the Billecart-Salmon was a real discovery. One of the few Champagne houses to remain family owned, it’s a Champagne we shall both be seeking out again. And The Billecart-Salmon Rose, we were informed by our utterly charming waiter, is even better (why haven’t I tried this before? I need to try this!)
Having spent an indulgent couple of hours enjoying our afternoon tea, before leaving Paramount Emma and I popped up to the viewing gallery (a couple of floors up) for a cocktail or two.
With the evening sun blazing through the floor to ceiling windows there was no question that the duchess’s dreaded sinking afternoon feeling had been well and truly banished.
Afternoon Tea at Paramount is £28 per person. Afternoon tea including a glass of Champagne is £42 per person. Book now: www.paramount.uk.net/afternoon-tea/