Coffee lovers will rejoice when they discover the latest craze in regards to Afternoon Tea – the High Coffee. Afternoon tea is just one of those things you all must try at least once. Okay, let’s face it, if you try a good one the first time you’ll be wanting to repeat the process over and over and over just like my friends and I have been for years. It’s a truly enjoyable experience normally in lovely surroundings and with a range of sumptuous mouthfuls of deliciousness to tantalise the taste buds.
I was excited to hear that the Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane, a hotel that I have visited before for a meal with friends have been experimenting to bring something totally new to the afternoon scene. Gone are the simple classics and in their place are a range of stunning new mini masterpieces both savoury and sweet to tempt us. Not only has the food been given a modern twist, they have also been hard at work pairing the courses with a range of high-grade, handcrafted, hand roasted, wood fired coffees of the highest quality in numerous delightful forms. This unique tasting experience is the first of its kind in the UK.
The hotel itself for those that have never visited is stunning. The Wellington Lounge where we were to enjoy our high coffee was bright and airy. The tables were spacious, chairs very comfortable and at the side of each was a stand on which the various courses would be served. Both Afternoon Tea and High Coffee are available to enjoy here, I suggest you go along and discover why this British tradition is so popular!!!
We had a great seat by the window where we could relax, enjoy our experience and watch the world pass us by. We were served water to start followed by a Salted Caramel Espresso Martini which was to be drunk with the first course.
Served with a Salted Caramel Espresso Martini
The martini was strong and smooth and delicious. The blend was great as it wasn’t excessively sweet or bitter a perfect marriage of ingredients.
Three beautifully presented and colourful sandwiches, served with the Salted Caramel Espresso Martini were the perfect way to begin. Each was unique in its creation, well thought out and pretty. The eye catching colours added to their appeal. The breads were all freshly made and it was nice that each was on a different type of bread. The sandwiches appeared on the menu in the suggested order that they were to be eaten. The ingredients were all fresh. I loved that each dinner gets their own plate with items already portioned out.
Free range chicken, celeriac and sweet pepper remoulade on buttermilk bread
Lovely and light flavours which worked well with the coffee. I loved the use of the edible flowers – viola. This was a nice touch and made a simple sandwich look great.
Heirloom tomato caprese, watercress pesto on a mixed olive roll
The olives in the bread add a lovely saltiness to the flavour combination. The classic fresh flavours of the cheese and tomato goes well with the watercress pesto. Topped by some pretty micro herbs (amaranth) that add a burst of colour and a slight sweetness to the sandwich.
Smoked eel, pickled red onion, caper aioli on a beetroot brioche roll
Our favourite of the three and the sandwich packed with the most flavour too. The eel was something different and what a refreshing idea. The addition of the pickled red onion (not overpowering) gave a great flavour and texture contrast with the soft smoothness of the smokey eel and more crisp, firm texture of the onion. The onion added to the flavour of the sandwich rather than dominating it. The caper aioli was delicious and if it was me making these I would have added a touch more. Again the use of micro herbs, this time coriander a herb I simply adore and adds a beautiful flavour that finishes the sandwich perfectly.
This was a great addition to the normal style ensemble and worked well with the caffe freddo. The chefs have been thinking outside the box to bring us something not only different but actually an upgrade to the classic afternoon tea style set up. Each portion was nicely presented and had its of unique flavour.
Served with a Caffé Freddo
The coffee was full bodied and worked impressively well with the different warm savouries.
Lamb and rosemary open pie
My goodness this was good. Full of flavour and containing pure meat, no any pieces to sift through and remove. It had a nice peppery kick to it. A texture contrast comes in the form of crisps strategically placed on top and perfect to use as edible spoons.
Wild mushroom tumble weed
This was really lovely and quite honestly tasted so much nicer than I expected. The soft smooth creaminess of the mushroom not only goes well with the coffee taking away the bitter edge like the addition of milk can do, it also works well with the saltiness and crunchy texture from the vermicelli. I found this rather addictive to be quite honest and could have easily eaten more.
Sun blushed tomato spiral, warm piccalilli
The pastry was lovely, the tomato flavour did seem to be lacking a little though and could have done with a slightly larger addition to increase the contrast with the piccalilli.
Blood orange and ginger sorbet
An interesting and extremely welcome addition to the selection. The palate cleanser was perfect to help separate the courses and give a gentle introduction to the sweet chapter of this fun culinary adventure. I love fresh sorbets and this one was exceptional. The sorbet itself was not overly sweet and the candied ginger was a surprising inclusion, the collaboration of the two worked well and had clearly been masterminded by a culinary genius.
Whilst we were enjoying our sorbet we were greeted by music. A pianist was playing in the background, not to loud so we could comfortably talk without needing to raise our voices to be hear. She played beautifully and this added to the enjoyment of the experience.
Traditional Warm Scones
Sultana and buttermilk scones,
Devon clotted cream, forest fruits jam
These were freshly made and warm when served. There is nothing like perfectly made warm scones with a nice dollop of clotted cream and a smothering of jam. These went down a treat and were light, buttery and crumbly.
The chocolate and hazelnut mix is nicely balanced. The chocolate crunchy disc was interesting and worked well. This is heaven for all chocoholics out there.
Bailey’s chocolate éclair
I loved this. It was soooo good I could have eaten more then one although I was pretty stuffed at this stage. You can really taste the Baileys in this and the choux pastry was perfect.
Black forest gateaux
Encased inside a chocolate box is hidden a rich, decadent chocolate mouse. Beneath this you will find a tangy tasty cherry compote. The ensemble is topped with cream and a glace cherry. This was a different approach to the classic. For me, I felt the chocolate sponge should have been included too maybe in the making of the box.
Macaroon with salt caramel
This is simply put heaven. I’m not sure how I can improve on that apart from to mention the flavours were perfectly balanced. I have had the pleasure of indulging in macaroons straight from Paris and this is equally as good as those.
Lemongrass and lime crème brûlée
With the balance of desserts somewhat heavy on the chocolate side this was a welcome addition. This has a lovely light infusion of flavours delicately combined to create a beautifully flavoured and creamy dessert. It’s flavours work well and help cleanse the palate after the varied chocolate offerings that preceded it.
Desserts were served with a choice of:
Espresso, Latte, Mocha, Macchiato,
Cortado, Cappuccino or Canarino
Our choice; one latte and one mocha. These were not as strong as some of the other coffees we had already had but by this stage were in no doubt that the coffee had kicked in and given us a buzz.
To finish a signature Caffé Coretto which was the ideal end to the High Coffee.
For the vegetarians out there you have not been forgotten, there is a vegetarian menu also available.
Theresa our waitress for the day did an amazing job making sure we were briefed as to the thinking behind the food and coffee selections for the High Tea. If you want to find out more or share the experience with us then make sure you take a look at the video below.
What do you think of the selection of foods and coffees we were served on our visit? Which would you like to try most?
The High Coffee costs £42 per person.
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Disclaimer: I was invited along to review the High Coffee. All thoughts and pictures are my own. Please do not use my pictures without permission, thanks x