Afternoon tea review: Cocomaya

Cocomaya fine chocolateLast weekend for my birthday, I embarked on an afternoon tea with my girl mates at Cocomaya which is an artisan bakery and chocolatier in central London. I had tried out the bakery a few months earlier with my French friend and enjoyed the flourless chocolate cake, sitting outside in the warm sunshine. The afternoon tea was set in the chocolate shop next door to the bakery and it was adorned with plates of beautiful homemade chocolates, brightly wrapped chocolate bars and a cabinet full of trinkets and vintage china. It is a girl’s dream!  The setting was perfect and we sat down to a variety of teas and coffees and water flavoured by blueberries, raspberries and flowers. My friends had rose tea, Darjeeling, good old breakfast tea and earl grey. I was brave enough to try tea for about the second time in my life and had assam chai tea which was bearable for the non-tea drinker!

Cocomaya triangular sandwiches with cream cheese, salmon, ham and cheeseFirst up was a selection of sandwiches with a difference – they used a dark ryebread which was very tasty although rather filling and heavy for an afternoon tea. The cream cheese and chilli, salmon and cucumber and ham and cheese sarnies were tasty. We didn’t eat too many though as we wanted to save ourselves for everything else to come. We also ate cheese rolls which were in Mary Berry’s words ‘scrummy’.  The next course included a selection of three types of scones – fruit scones, chocolate drop scones with cranberries and plain scones. They were accompanied by homemade jam which I guessed was something like blackberry and damson jam plus clotted cream.

Cocomaya lemon and poppy seed cakes, raspberry and choc cakesThen came a selection of about 10 mini cakes – some to half, some to have all to yourself. I couldn’t believe such a large selection of delights! Firm favourites included mini chocolate flourless cake, lemon and poppyseed mouthfuls, raspberry and creme patissiere cakes, fudge brownie and blackberry mini loaf. There were also mini banana loaf and mini marble cake slices. What a treat!

We were starting to fill up and had to go rather slowly. We opened pressies, took photos next to the chocolates and vintage china and smelt teas! It was lovely to take the afternoon at a really leisurely pace and savour every mouthful. Cocomaya let us take little boxes home of all the cakes we couldn’t eat at the time so the afternoon tea memories carried on into the weekend….

choc brownies by Cocomaya

For £25 per person I think this was one of the best afternoon teas I’ve had – the atmosphere was fabulous, the food generous and varied and the service patient and not intrusive. When I say patient – we asked if I could smell lots of different teas before I plumped for the assam chai and our waiter also took lots of piccies of us too! It can sometimes be hard to get through to them on the phone but I can only think they’re putting the finishing touches on their cakes. It’s well worth persevering and booking that afternoon tea of yours.

Special thanks go to my friend Hannah Carmichael for taking the amazing photos in this post. You can view more of her work at: http://picasaweb.google.com/hannie20

Afternoon tea review: Wyndham Grand Hotel, Chelsea Harbour

On Saturday, I went to afternoon tea at the recently refurbished Wyndham Grand Hotel in Chelsea Harbour. It was a lovely sunny day and the Harbour was a great setting. My friend had found a special deal on the Afternoon Tea website for a champagne afternoon tea for £20 which was a bargain. The afternoon tea was themed and because of the Chelsea Flower Show currently being on, it included flowers and herbs being subtly woven into the menu. You can read the menu here.

Wyndham Grand Hotel London

First up, we were ravenous and ate all the sandwiches, though if you want an extra plate, it’s £6.50. I liked the salmon and cream cheese one and it was nice and fresh. I’m not a personal fan of lavender so the honey and ham sandwich with lavender bread was not to my taste. The next layer was some lovely warm scones which were wrapped in a linen napkin to keep in the heat. We managed a scone each but there was another scone still to go at! The scones were fresh and came apart easily in two pieces and we smeared on plenty of clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Next up were the smaller cake delights and everyone had their own favourites. The one I enjoyed the most was the flourless chocolate cake with chilli. The chilli was mild enough not to be too overpowering and there was a lovely treacly gooey taste at the end of your mouthful. I also enjoyed the lemon drizzle cake and the rose and raspberry chibouste (looks like a shotglass in the pic) but you did have to dig a little deeper to get the lovely creamy filling so that the raspberries weren’t too sweet with it. The lavender shortbread wasn’t for me but it was nicely done and I did love the idea of the violet and blackberry eclairs although they were too dry. There was limitless tea and coffee and my friends chose mint and breakfast tea and a cafetiere of coffee whilst I went for a cappuccino.

The hotel has been done in a modern style and the seats were comfortable although I’m not sure the lounge bar had the right furnishings for afternoon tea. If it had been warmer we would have ventured on the terrace for the great Chelsea Harbour views. Overall it was a fantastic afternoon out and after the champagne we all felt very pampered and relaxed. I felt thoroughly stuffed from the afternoon tea so went for a long bike ride and did my fastest ever lap of the park so it must have been down to all that sugar!

Afternoon tea review: The Orangery

Kensington Gardens, afternoon teaOn Saturday I visited the Orangery in Kensington Gardens for afternoon tea with my friend. It was a beautiful sunny day so we didn’t mind waiting too much for a table. Unfortunately you can’t book in advance. We opted to sit inside so we could enjoy the atmosphere of this grand building. Each table has a little mini orange tree on it which is a nice addition. We chose the signature afternoon tea and an enchanted palace afternoon tea. The afternoon tea was on the whole very good although I have a couple of small gripes. The sandwiches could have been a little fresher – when eating finger sandwiches it is immediately apparent if they’ve been sitting about for a while. The scone although tasty was a little undercooked and heavy. On the plus side, the passionfruit mini tart was to die for. We couldn’t believe the people at the next table left theirs! They missed a treat. We loved the little cakes from the enchanted palace afternoon tea – a mini chocolate ganache gateau and a heart shaped shortbread with raspberries. We polished off everything! I am trying to avoid caffeine at the moment and there was no problem to swap the included tea or coffee for another soft drink. The homemade lemonade was refreshing and simple. Overall we really enjoyed the afternoon tea and would recommend it. However, be aware that at the weekends service is slow and staff seem content to keep the pace that way, even when there is a queue of people and the odd table is empty. Perhaps visit in the week if you’re on holiday or go with the mindset that you will be taking a very leisurely afternoon tea.

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