This was my second visit (the first was for dinner a couple of years ago) and on both occasions I was enticed by cut-price offers. This time, it was my sister’s birthday so I thought it would be a great opportunity to take advantage of the Champagne afternoon tea deal from Time Out. After all, who doesn’t love a bit of tea, cake and fizz? There were a lot of birthday celebrations going on though, so it looks like my idea wasn’t very original!
We arrived at 2pm on a Saturday and were seated in the pudding bar, which was almost full. The tables were very close together and ours was a little too small for four people. As a result, it felt rather cramped, but it wasn’t a major issue. There was a fair selection of teas and I went for lapsang suchong tea while everybody else played it safe and went for English breakfast. The tea itself was fine but we were only given three strainers between four, which seemed a little careless.
When the food came, it was presented on a three tiered tray and looked very appetising. First up, there were four types of finger sandwiches, which unfortunately turned out to be fairly nondescript. The best of the bunch was the ham and English mustard, but I felt that the quality of ingredients just wasn’t quite up to scratch.
The scones were tasty and nicely baked but I’d have liked more cream (clotted would’ve been preferable to whipped too). Unfortunately, one of our group has an aversion to sultanas so he asked if they had any plain scones. I thought it was a perfectly reasonable request but the waiter said he wasn’t sure and that he’d check for us. However, judging from the fact that he was never to be seen again, I assume that he either forgot or just didn’t care. Either way, it’s really bad service.
The desserts were a mixed bag too. The apple jelly and panna cotta was far too sharp, whereas the rose macaroon was too sweet for my palate. The treacle tart had a powerful citrus kick and while it certainly wasn’t unpleasant, it didn’t really taste like a treacle tart. The pear crumble was delicious and the chocolate tart was fantastic with crispy pastry and just a slight hint of bitterness in the chocolate to balance out the sweetness.
At the end of the meal, I thought it would be nice to have a little more tea so I asked the waiter if he could bring some. Instead, he said he’d just pour on some hot water in our teapot. I’m sure this was well intentioned but it tasted like… well… hot water and we’d have been more than happy to pay for another pot. Right about then, the couple on the next table rather bizarrely asked if they could see a gluten free menu. Obviously some people aren’t as familiar with afternoon tea as I’d imagined.
If I had to sum up our Kettner’s experience in one sentence, I’d say “you get what you pay for.” Without the discount, the Champagne afternoon tea is just £27 per head (or £18.67 without the Champagne) and you can pay as much as three times that in some of the swankier places in town. So although the food and service weren’t perfect, I still think Kettner’s is decent option for afternoon tea in town.
Champagne Afternoon tea for four, all in – £88.
Address: 29 Romilly St, London, Greater London W1D 5HP
Phone: 020 7734 6112
Kettner’s Menu: Click Here