For my birthday, my best friend took me to the Sanderson London for the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea. Two things I love, afternoon tea and eating in cool hotels.
The Sanderson is on Berner’s Street, a short walk from Tottenham Court Road tube station. The outside of the hotel doesn’t give much away, then you step inside this suave 50’s style space. It’s understated but luxuriously beautiful. We were greeted by a lovely hostess who sat us immediately in the courtyard. The courtyard garden has a nice vibe, it’s not at all stuffy and it’s pretty comfy with cushions and blankets.
We were given the choice of 5 teas which were explained on the back of 5 cards. We had a sample of each in a little potion bottle, think ‘Drink me’. The teas were inspired by Alice In Wonderland, with each a suitable flavour for the character. I went for the Queen of Hearts, a Red Rose Congu Infused Tea with Red Rose Petals, and a hint of Vanilla and Chocolate. I enjoyed the tea, I’m not usually a fan of rose flavoured anything but it was quite delicate. Laura tried the Mad Hatter, a green tea infused with passion fruit, guava and mango. She loved the fruity tea and thought the refreshing flavour balanced the sweetness of the food.
Next up came the savouries. We had a Scottish smoked salmon, quail egg and caviar scotch egg. Neither of us are massive fans of salmon so we weren’t keen but I’m sure it is probably a favourite for others. We both enjoyed the Wiltshire ham and smoked Applewood croque-monsieur, it was a pretty decent ham and cheese toastie. We really didn’t like the Cornish crab and herb eclair, we both thought the pastry tasted burnt and the crab lacked flavour. I couldn’t taste the herb and was quite disappointed. Lastly, we tried the Cucumber and cream cheese sandwich on fresh lime bread. It looked impressively…green. Alas, it didn’t taste of much. I remember the cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches of previous afternoon teas, the cucumber should be crisp and the cream cheese a little tangy. Needless to say I was looking forward to some sweet treats.
I started with the scone which is always my favourite part of afternoon tea. It was warm and crumbly and not too sweet, probably my favourite part of the experience. Unfortunately, it came with mixed berry preserve. I would have liked a choice of preserves and I wasn’t overly keen after tasting it so I stuck to the clotted cream. Then I continued to work my way top to bottom. Long story short, it was all overwhelmingly sweet, too sweet. Whilst each sweet was beautiful and stuck to the theme, I ended up having a bite of everything just to try it, but I couldn’t finish any of them because they were so overpowering.
Between our courses, I have to say that service was ridiculously slow. We sat with empty plates and teapots for 15 minutes, usually I can appreciate a busy service and how difficult it is to keep up with everyone’s needs. However, this was consistently slow and we weren’t asked if we had dietary requirements before the sandwiches. It’s the little touches I think the service lacked. It was only after we had finished everything that we were asked if we would like more tea.
On the whole, I loved the theme of the afternoon tea and how well it was stuck to. Everything was beautiful and we almost didn’t want to destroy these little works of art. Ultimately though, the service let the meal down and it was all too sweet. The sandwiches lacked flavour and the desserts lacked balance. I enjoyed the scones and tea so that was a win. More than anything, Laura and I could have a good time in a Wetherspoons (or walking through the snow on New Year’s Eve) so that was the positive. I would like to say that I would recommend the experience or go again, but I can’t and I wouldn’t.