Afternoon Tea at the Winter Garden
Nelson @ Landmark Hotel: Perhaps the most British tradition, we had to experience Afternoon Tea in Britain ourselves. This hotel is set up as a glass covered courtyard that makes you feel like it's almost outdoors, but is actually indoors.
Let's start with the tea. I had the Winter Garden Blend described as a beautifully aromatic bespoke blend created specifically for the Winter Garden including both Indian and China black teas, this blend is robust yet aromatic and a perfect partner to sweet afternoon teas. The tea pot was sparkling. They give you a strainer to make sure no leaves end up in the tea cup.
Tea comes with a choice of brown, white and artificial sugar and of course cream. I tried various combinations and I still think that the tea black is the best. Otherwise I find it all tastes the same if sugar and cream is added.
A selection of sandwiches from left to right include organic egg mayonnaise and mustard cress, free range corn fed chicken with tarragon creme fraiche, classic cucumber and Lapsang Souchong smoked salmon. Egg was good because it wasn't drowning in mayo, although I expected the mustard cress to really make it unique, but it didn't really. The chicken was really flavourful with the green bits giving it a really unique taste. The cucumber was pretty normal, but I did notice that the cucumber was cut lengthwise to avoid any seeds. Lastly the salmon was excellent with a really deep smokey flavour. They were nice enough to bring out refills for us. All of them were delicately cut and presented.
These are warm freshly baked raisin and apple scones. They were only ok and I have had better ones. The most unique thing with them was eating the Cornish clotted cream with the scones. It tasted like it just added a lot of fat. The lemon curd on the left added a sharp sour taste. The best was actually plain old homemade strawberry preserve. The highlight was definitely eating the toppings and not the scones themselves.
Next up are the "traditional delights". They all came on their own mini trays. Richard who is more about the quantity mistakenly ate one of Kitty's, and when we went to order more unfortunately discovered that it was not possible. A little disappointing.
First up is the banana and maple syrup cake. You can see the large walnut pieces inside. It was quite sweet and the outer chocolate shell was luxuriously thick.
This is a cranberry jelly and flourless pistachio sponge. This was much sweeter than I expected a pistachio based dessert to be and I felt the sweetness was overpowering for these ingredients.
Cappuccino bavarios. It was like a mousse with marscapone and a half macaroon on the bottom. It looked like a cup of cappuccino and tasted like one too!
Last is the confit chestnut and orange mousse. Tasted a bit like an orange flavoured custard which had a nice flavour and tasted like fig inside even though it was probably just chestnut. Looks like there is gold on top too.
So overall I was a tad disappointed. The tea and sandwiches were good, but the scones utterly disappointing (although perhaps traditional) and the desserts were good but didn't wow me. I thought that Toronto's Royal York has comparable quality. But I was glad for the experience (£40) and had an enjoyable time relaxing here.
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