Quince Festive Afternoon Tea with a Twist at The May Fair with Silvena Rowe
An invitation for afternoon tea landed in my “In Box” from the lovely Becky whose PR company works for The May Fair…….I was promised an indulgent Quince Festive Afternoon Tea at The May Fair with a seasonal twist, featuring a mulled wine Martini, chocolate mince pies and caramelised chestnuts, this is the perfect way to spend an afternoon of seasonal indulgence……I was also promised that I would escape the hustle and bustle and step away from the frenzy of festive shoppers in London and into the luxurious comfort and relaxed sophistication of Quince, at luxury London hotel the May Fair……before I had finished reading the email, I was already typing my acceptance by return! I am an Afternoon Tea kinda gal and I was intrigued by the promises of celebrating Christmas in style with a daringly different yet decadent Afternoon Tea full of festive flavour.
A date and time was set and I looked forward with anticipation to my afternoon tea in the week before Christmas. The menu had been sent to me, as a tease I am sure, and comprised:
Quince at The May Fair ~ Festive Afternoon Tea
Caramelised Chestnuts with Spiced Syrup Dip
Seasonal Marshmallows with Burnt Orange and Anise Dip
Chocolate Mince Pies
Candied Nectarine Petit Fours
….and a Mulled Wine Shot
The Quince Christmas Afternoon Tea menu, priced at £25 per person
There was an error for my first booking, so when I turned up nobody knew anything about it, despite Becky booking weeks in advance, and I was rather unceremoniously turned away………so, a new date was set for the following Wednesday…..but, unfortunately my Afternoon Tea was in the May Fair Bar this time and not Quince as previously arranged. I asked my friend Fiona from London Unattached to accompany me, and we met there at 3pm…..Our table was by the window, next to other diners who were enjoying typical “Bar Food” of burgers, club sandwiches and chips, which, was not very conducive for taking Afternoon Tea I felt. The bar at The May Fair is curiously noisy with “pulsating” music and rather subdued lighting; there were lots of people meeting for “works” drinks and snacks, and the tables were set VERY close to each other, so on manoeuvring to sit down, I accidentally knocked a chip of a fellow diners’ plate! The staff were friendly and attentive however, and this more than made up for the rather loud, dark and busy bar…..
…..Fiona and I were served with a large black “sharing” platter of the “Festive Afternoon Tea”. This is not a cake stand kind of tea, but an exotic “Ottoman” style afternoon tea…..the senses are supposed to be heightened with the selection of treats on offer – spices meld with chocolate whilst cocktails are served in place of the usual and ubiquitous pot of tea; in reality both Fiona and I found it all rather sweet and craved something savoury to offset the cloying sweetness of some of the treats on offer. The concept of the festive afternoon tea was to heighten the senses and toy with the usual preconceptions of tea; this was a clever idea, but as so often happens with good ideas, it just missed the mark. My first taste was The Chocolate Martini, which was fabulously creamy and chocolatey. Next came the Candied Clementine Pieces which were delectable, but the Chocolate Mince Pies were uninspiring and rather dry and would have been all the better for a cup of tea to accompany them.
The Panatone Tiramisu was delicious with lots of alcohol and a hint of festive spices, but the Caramelised Chestnuts with Spiced Syrup Dip were cloyingly sweet and neither of us ate more than a half each. The Seasonal Marshmallows with Burnt Orange and Anise Dip were pretty average and one had the same coating as “Space Dust” that I used to eat as a child, which, could have been fun if the flavour was more exciting – they were standard marshmallows with a hint of flavouring and a rubbery texture……I wasn’t a fan. The Mulled Wine Shots were very nice, basically they were glasses of boozy mulled wine, but served in a shot glass, which was very festive. At £25 per person, I would have been disappointed had I paid for this, and I would have questioned being served an afternoon tea in the bar, instead of the rather elegant and exotic Quince restaurant, where we should have been served. It was an elegant and unusual tea, but like the Emperor’s New Clothes, the promise of something rich, exotic and divinely decadent was not in evidence – although we did enjoy some parts of the platter, and the staff very kindly brought us our much craved for pot of tea, (as an extra) at the end of our festive tea experience.
Verdict: This is the press release for Quince at The May Fair: ….”Soulful, sensual and spirited, Quince is the perfect expression of The May Fair’s exuberant personality. A luxe eaterie with an engagingly every-day feel, it is at once alluring yet warmly familiar. Above all, the Quince experience is about sharing – about exploring flavours and textures together”…..had our afternoon tea been served here, as originally intended, I am sure both Fiona and I might have experienced more of the “uniqueness” of this concept tea; as it was, we were served it in a noisy bar, (although we did have candles on the table) and we both thought that there should have been some savoury parts included. The tea was more like a sweet or dessert tasting platter and drivers could not have driven afterwards due to the excessive booze! I felt that this festive tea was overly sweet although perfect for all dessert, pudding and cocktail lovers. However, the service was excellent and the staff were very attentive.
Fiona Maclean says
It was really lovely to meet up with you Karen, but I agree the tea was a little on the sweet side. I wonder how much is expectation – I had dainty little savouries and scones in my head and a nice cup of tea! And of course the bar would have been fun if we’d been there for bar snacks:)
Doesn’t distract from how great it was to actually meet up rather than tweet-up! Look forward to seeing you in York.
Karen Booth says
It was LOVELY to meet up Fiona and you are so right, our expectations were more about cake, sandwiches and pots of tea! See you in York this weekend! Karen
Franglais kitchen says
Great review Karen. how strange to have to have afternoon tea in a Bar. Takes the atmosphere away somewhat I think. you were very good to have enough patience to return having had a booking mixed up the first time….
Still at least you got a catch up with Fiona over some nice Pre Christmas sweet treats!
Karen Booth says
Thanks Nazima, it was a nice experience, but not as we expected! Karen
Charlotte @CharlotteKDiary says
Very interesting read Karen. I think I might find this too sweet, too. Great to read a honest and objective review!