Afternoon tea in a jazzy new Soho hotel
Afternoon tea in itself is a pretty inoffensive affair, built around the genteel consumption of finger sandwichs, scones and a few polite little pastries. Perhaps the most objectionable part of this daintiest of activities is not the activity itself, but the sums of money that you are sometimes asked to part with to have them. I’m refreshingly surprised to see the price tag on the afternoon tea at Ham Yard Soho, an eclectic hotel where the afternoon tea costs just £19.50 pp.
Served on a neon pink triple-tiered stand, each shelf heaves under the weight of a hefty booty. Gone are the traditional sandwiches, replaced instead with sliders full of sticky pulled oxtail, flatbreads with welsh rarebit, and butter-fried toast with sautéed mushroom and cheese. The only savoury item I’m not completely on board with is a finger sandwich of sliced beef tomato, which feels a little lonely all on its own, and which works nowhere near as well as the cucumber variety.
On the top tier of the stand are pots brimming with clotted cream, raspberry and strawberry jam, which are put to good use on a selection of mini fruit and plain scones. Warm and swaddled in thick cotton, these scones are the perfect little number to transfer gently between savoury and sweet.
Afternoon tea concludes with a selection of pastries, which include a glace cherry macaron, a banana cheesecake and a chocolate cupcake. Although the variety is commendable, only one of each pastry is given for an afternoon tea which serves two people, and so these petit four creations must be halved into even smaller mouthfuls. Still, each mouthful is a delight.
Apart from the tea itself, I quite like the chop-and-change nature of the menu, and the flexibility it gives to have exactly what you want and pay for it accordingly. The basic afternoon tea for £19.50 pp includes the tea stand as pictured (for two), and a choice of Earl Grey, Darjeeling or Breakfast tea. More exotic teas are available for an extra £2.50 per pot, whilst refills of the sweet and savoury tea tiers can also be requested for an extra £8 and £6 respectively.
After tea I would strongly suggest taking a wander around the hotel itself, which offers great nooks to explore including a plush ground floor bar, rooftop garden, cinema and an original ’50s bowling alley.