London: A Chic Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley

I had tried the Pret-a-Portea at the Berkeley once before, but I found myself itching to visit once again during my last trip to London. The reason is simple: the pastries at the Berkeley, each modeled after a different couture look, are quite simply works of art. And the rest of the afternoon tea ain’t too shabby either.

One thing I love about the Berkeley? Their china. When I visited last time it was a delightful pink, green, and yellow pattern; this time, it was shades of purple. So pretty!

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One thing I’m not so wild about at the Berkeley is that they don’t do the traditional scones with tea. I love me some scones, man! However, they do offer compensation in the form of additional savory treats, each of which is quite creative. There was a beetroot gazpacho with tahini yoghurt:

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A tiny bowl of scorched tuna, horseradish beurre blanc, and soya tapioca:

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And two mini savory muffins:

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(The muffins were nice, but they certainly can’t hold a candle to perfectly fluffy scones!)

In terms of the tea sandwiches, there too, the Berkeley is a bit more non-traditional than the typical tea. There was a holiday themed turkey breast with sage and chestnut stuffing and cranberry brown butter, a duck egg mayonnaise, a home cured smoked salmon with celeriac remoulade, a salt beef brisket with gherkins, a grilled aubergine with piquillo pepper, olives, feta, and hummus, and a mini muffin with feta, spinach, and crispy kale.

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And, at last, finally on to what’s truly important: the sweets! Atop the tea tray was a duo of bavarois served in shot glasses. First up, the Dolce & Gabbana blackcurrant bavarois with star anise panna cotta and a chocolate owl:

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And then Jason Wu’s romantic cherry bavarois with coconut cream. This came topped with a playful pink skirt and biscuit heel – how fun!

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There were several cookies, including a pair of shoes: the Manolo Blahnik Hangisi pointy toe stiletto and the Charlotte Olympia cinnamon biscuit boot which, in the words of the Berkeley, was “dramatically iced with black and red icing”:

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My favorite dessert of all just might have been Burberry’s classic trench coat, in the form of a chocolate biscuit with creamy royal icing. You can’t beat a classic!

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Simone Rocha’s embroidered tulle dress was represented in the vanilla eclair filled with salted creme caramel:

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Nicholas Kirkwood’s pearl pump took the form of a sachertorte layered with raspberry, chocolate ganache, and Valrhona cremeux and topped with delicate silver “pearls”:

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And Jimmy Choo’s glittery pointed-toe shoe took the form of a velvet praline cream cake with hazelnut croquant and a sweetheart bow:

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A Lanvin number was shaped into an almond sponge cake, complete with honeycomb, chocolate mousse, and a light meringue ruffle:

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And finally, there was the Moschino blood orange victoria sponge “Yellow M” handbag encased in red chocolate. Cute!

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The Bottom Line: While the savory course isn’t my favorite compared to other teas I’ve tried, and the lack of scones is a bummer, afternoon tea at the Berkeley is still super memorable. The tea room and china are oh so elegant, and the pastries are second to none. I can’t get over how creative they are, and the cool thing is that – much like fashion itself – they change each season, so there’s always reason to come back.

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