Saturday 6 April 2013

Afternoon Tea at the Langham Hotel

Afternoon tea at the Langham Hotel in London - I highly recommend it!

I wanted to surprise a friend for her birthday and we have been out to afternoon tea once before which we both really enjoyed. Since then she has become vegan so I knew it wouldn't be so easy to find somewhere to go - I read some very poor reviews online of hotels that acknowledged a vegan on booking but in the end offered very little catered specifically to them. I did some Googling and found one hotel in particular came highly recommended for afternoon tea for vegans - the Langham.

I also managed to arrange as a surprise for the birthday girl to have two of our best friends from school waiting at the hotel when she arrived. She thought she was only meeting me, and since they both live a fair way from London wasn't expecting to see them at all, so it was a lovely surprise to have us all there.

The lounge at the Langham where you have afternoon tea is called Palm Court and it is beautifully decorated with a pianist and the service was very good.

We had the Wonderland afternoon tea, which cost £40; there is an option to have a glass of champagne with it for £52, and also a Diamond Jubilee afternoon tea at £49. We were given an entire menu of teas to select from which was nice but a little daunting, so the waiter recommended the Langham's own blend, which I tried and enjoyed. My friend's four-year-old daughter came with us; children are charged at half price and eat from the same menu, and there is also a caffeine-free children's blend of tea on offer (as well as the usual soft drinks).

First we were each served a small jam jar with what I think from looking at the menu was hibiscus and blackcurrant jelly, with gold leaf. We weren't sure if it was supposed to be eaten first or as a dessert so we left it until the end, by which point the jelly had turned to liquid! The waiter did explain what everything was as he served us, but it would have been good to have been told if this was an amuse-bouche or a sweet and if we should have eaten it right away.

Then came the main act - I wasn't sure what to expect as the menu was quite coy, promising chocolate tart, banana cake and Victoria sponge, which didn't sound particularly fancy, but the presentation was outstanding (as was the taste!). But I will come to the desserts later....

First we had a selection of sandwiches and mini rolls; it was nice to have the rolls actually as most places seem to do finger sandwiches only. The sandwiches contained:

Poached Loch Duart salmon with crème fraîche and caraway

Egg mayonnaise with mustard cress
Roast Castle of Mey with tarragon mustard and landcress (I had no idea what Castle of Mey was and assumed ham, but it was actually rare beef)
Cornfed chicken with sweetcorn, spring onion and dijon mustard (I don't like sweetcorn but luckily there were only two pieces in my finger sandwich, yes I peeled the bread apart to check before I ate it!)
Atlantic prawns with marie rose sauce

I also liked the fact that we were told the sandwiches would be replenished. Because of that, I had been expecting another plateful to be brought over but instead a waiter came with a tray and asked each of us in turn which ones we would like more of. I chose another prawn roll and another beef sandwich as I felt it would have been too much to say 'another one of everything please!'.

The vegan sandwich selection seemed quite imaginative to me and was apparently very tasty. It specified that vegan margarine was used, and the sandwiches contained:
- roasted pepper and smoked aubergine
- tomatoes three ways
- coleslaw with golden raisins
- artichoke and red pesto
- cucumber and houmous

 When we had eaten enough, a basket of warm scones was produced, served with jam and cream. I can say that these were probably the best scones I have ever eaten!

I did notice afterwards though that the vegan menu also featured the same scones "with Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry preserve", and I wonder if the cream was indeed vegan as that was exactly the same description as the non-vegan cream. They did have soya milk for the tea of course.

Then the pianist began to play 'happy birthday' and we saw a couple of waiters carrying cakes with lit candles; as it was our friend's birthday one was brought to our table as well. The hotel actually asked when I booked the table whether it was a special occasion or birthday; I like the fact that they prompted as some people might not have thought to mention it then be disappointed if other people received a birthday cake.

Finally the desserts.... we were already feeling quite full by this point but were really looking forward to this part! First here is a picture of the vegan dessert selection. As regular readers of my blog will know, I've been doing a fair amount of vegan baking for this particular friend and am convinced vegan cakes are just as nice as those made with eggs and butter. I have to admit though that many of the recipes I've come across have been a bit plain and unimaginative (though there are also some brilliant ideas out there) so I was impressed at the different desserts that were on offer here.

- Pate de fruit: this was a kind of fruit jelly, threaded onto cocktail sticks and stood in a tall glass filled with pink sugar (the tallest item you can see in the picture)
The menu also listed
- red berries with elderflower
- coconut rice pudding with mango noodle
- apple pie
- champagne jelly with gold leaf
I can't see anything that looks like the jelly in the photo, though I do remember my friend saying she had eaten it! I think this might be what she was served at the beginning when we had the blackcurrant and hibiscus jelly.

And for my dessert selection:
- Chocolate tart
- Banana cake
- Victoria sponge
- Strawberry meringue

I think the names were a little understated or perhaps that was the intention! The strawberry meringue came on a stick like a lolly pop and was delicious.

The chocolate tart was out of this world - a biscuit base, with a sort of chocolate ganache filling, and pieces of chocolate, raspberries and gold leaf on top. It was very rich but only bite-sized.

Banana cake: the cake itself had a toffee and banana flavour, and I loved the little banana decoration on top

Victoria sponge: a mini cake where the icing was about as tall as the cake, decorated with pink dragees

And inside, a tiny bit of strawberry jam.

At the end as we hadn't managed to finish all the scones, the waiter offered a doggy bag and put them into this nice little box.

We had a lovely afternoon tea - the sitting was 2 hours and we didn't feel rushed. It was a brilliant birthday surprise and the food was excellent. My friend and I were also really impressed at the variety and quality of the vegan option, so I would highly recommend the Langham for afternoon tea and particularly if you have special dietary requirements, as they cater for all sorts of needs as well as vegan.


  1. very nice-it all looks scrumptious,but a bit expensive.

  2. Ha I'd be exactly the same picking out the sweetcorn! I'm looking for an afternoon tea venue at the mo and this sounds like a big contender, thanks for so much detailed info

  3. Do you have the recipe for these delicious looking scones?

    1. I don't have the recipe, sorry - I imagine it's the hotel's own recipe and they probably won't want to share it, though you could try contacting them!


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