It’s a Little Bit Mad afternoon tea at The Lanesborough review
Knightsbridge hotel’s edible tribute to Cruella de Vil is devilishly tasty
Afternoon teas are meant to be indulgent but The Lanesborough’s latest offering is just downright wicked - in all the right ways.
In a homage to new Disney film Cruella, the Knightsbridge hotel’s head pastry chef Kevin Miller has conjured up a collection of sculptural edible art that, just like the 101 Dalmatians villain, is “a little bit mad”. The new movie stars Emma Stone as a young de Vil in London during the 1970s punk-rock revolution, and Miller has gone to town with those themes to create what is billed as “a stylish celebration of fashion and rebellion”.
Few film location agents could come up with a more stylish setting for this afternoon tea, which is served under the domed-glass roof of the hotel’s opulent, Michelin-starred Céleste restaurant. And the pastries on the menu look equally glamorous, with a colour theme of black, red and gold. But while Cruella would surely approve, what about two even tougher critics: my 11-year-old twin daughters?
The fun kicks off with “Scene Stealer” cocktails, a blend of raspberry purée, maraschino cherry juice and syrup, plus lemon juice for a tart twist, and optional Bombay Bramble gin for an added kick for the adults.
Topped with white apricot air foam and freeze-dried blackberry dust, the cocktail lives up to its name, with a smoke-emitting table centrepiece adding to the sense of drama.
Traditionalists may prefer the alternative option of a classic that never goes out of fashion, Moët champagne. But guests of all tastes and ages should sample The Lanesborough’s signature teas: a delicious rhubarb and vanilla blend gets high marks from our two young critics, but the star of the show is a chocolate brownie tea that despite our initial scepticism, tastes like just that.
While our chocolate brownie brew proves surprisingly moreish, nothing beats the real deal of the accompanying pastries and savouries.
In a move that certainly wouldn’t impress Cruella, we opt for the vegetarian version of the menu, which includes a zingy spinach, lemon and ricotta tartlet with spinach sponge, plus dainty finger sandwiches with fillings such as hummus and grilled vegetables. All win rave reviews from this more mature critic but for the younger members of our party, the cakes and scones are the headline act.
Pastry maestro Miller has created a range of mad and deliciously bad treats with big-screen-worthy names including “Anarchy Reigns”, a millionaire shortbread presented on a mini artists’ easel. “Runway Diva”, a treacle tartlet with whipped dulcey ganache garnished with chocolatey red lips, is rich enough to satisfy even my two sugar fiends.
“Fashion Makes Art Makes Fashion”, a chocolate and raspberry Battenberg cake, also proves to be a big hit, as do the “Out with the Old, In with the Unexpected” chocolate chip and dried cranberry scones, which arrive warm from the oven along with lashings of clotted cream and strawberry jam.
But for pure wow factor, the award goes to “Modern Masterpiece”, a gold inside-out lemon cheesecake with blueberry compote and a vial of “blood” (blackcurrant and violet sauce) for diners to inject into the centre. Channelling your inner Cruella never tasted so divine, darling.
The “It’s a Little Bit Mad” afternoon tea is being served at The Lanesborough’s Céleste until 4 August 2021, and costs £55 per person (children’s menu from £25), or £72 with a Scene Stealer cocktail or £74 with a glass of champagne