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Monday, December 17, 2012
To many, the very prospect of battling the throng of Christmas shoppers this year is enough to make them wish 2013 would just hurry up and arrive.
Why head out in the great big festive jungle when you can sit in your own cosseted pen and get it in a few clicks?
Well, for starters you wouldn’t get the chance to try out the Christmas Afternoon Tea at the London Hilton in Park Lane, which runs right through the festive period.
There probably isn’t much better to soothe those aching feet than the experience laid on at the hotel’s Podium restaurant.
The afternoon tea has a special place in the heart of the British food establishment. The basics are all there - yet there is plenty of room for re-interpretation.
The Hilton version does just that, combining all the staples - sandwiches, scones, and cupcakes - with the end result a decent little menu that largely suits the season.
The warm original and chocolate chip scones, presented to the table with jam, clotted cream and praline chocolate spread were our highlight. And the fact they were baked daily on the site was a plus point.
The sweets were a delight, served on the requisite stand. The marmalade filled cupcakes were something of a surprise, while the Christmas tree icing was a nice touch and incredibly sweet. If you need a sugar boost after all that shopping look no further.
All the favourites are there - a macaroon, cherry cheesecake, and a passionfruit posset - with their own twist, and the poppy seed vanilla shooting star cookies were certainly unusual but no worse for it.
They were all ingeniously placed on a base that was made of dark chocolate - a lovely touch.
The open sandwiches were a bit of a disappointment though. You expect something dainty and simple, but you also want something you would not necessarily be able to produce at home.
I was a bit confused by the festive inspiration that led to egg and cress, prawn mayonnaise and cucumber and cheese sandwich toppings, but they were nicely presented.
But everything was capped off with a selection of 16 open leaf black, green, mint, blue and white teas, which help cut through the richness and sweetness of the food.
As an experience, it was faultless, with the quality of service making guests feel welcome. If the idea is to make guests feel they are there for something special, a one off that only takes place once a year, then the London Hilton has pulled it off.
The Christmas Afternoon Tea, running until January 4, is priced at £32.50 per person (tea, coffee, soft drinks included) or £39.50 per person with Champagne.