Inside a Georgian townhouse, just behind Oxford Street, lies a secret drinking den that exuberates the eccentric charm of the Zetter Townhouse’s ficticous owner, wicked Uncle Seymour. Seymour’s Parlour is more front room of curiosities than hotel bar: trinkets clutter a cabinet that spans one side of the room, portraits adorn the wine-red walls and crystal decanters filled with bright orange liquid dress up antique wooden tables.
The room has a hushed atmosphere with intimate lighting that creates secluded corners to settle in to. Dapper Italian waiters take your order, and shake cocktails at a little bar tucked into one corner. We kicked off afternoon tea with a round of tea-infused cocktails created by drinks pioneer Tony Conigliaro. Nettle Collins was a refreshing, sour blend of lemon, sugar and soda spike with nettle gin. Or try the Silk Road Gimlet, a smooth mix of Beefeater gin and delicate Keemun Chinese black tea cordial.
After our cocktails, a series of tea stands and plates that made up Aunt Wilhelmina and Uncle Seymour’s afternoon teas arrived. The highlight of the former was the crisp and comforting goat’s cheese toastie with a layer of sweet and tangy red onion marmalade. An open sandwich of Chapel & Swan salmon smoked in Suffolk was lifted with a light but punchy herb crème fraiche. For a less traditional and more substantial savoury round, opt for Uncle Seymour’s tea – little puff pastry sausage rolls were stuffed with haggis and topped with a punchy homemade brown sauce, and the Lincolnshire pork pie had a good crunch to the crust with tangy piccalilli on the side.
Both teas came with freshly baked plain and raisin scones with a pillowy centre, to be generously piled high with thick, rich Cornish clotted cream and a strawberry preserve containing pieces of macerated fruits.
Our afternoon tea was given a festive touch in the sweet round with a clove mulled wine jelly (usually a Kir Royale jelly) that came set in a plastic cocktail glass with tiny pieces of apple at the bottom. The chocolate yule log was an intense chocolate hit with a truffle-like texture, while a silky smooth clementine dome had a lightly spiced gingerbread base.
Order pots of English breakfast, Early Grey, English peppermint or lemongrass, or stick to the tea-infused cocktails in keeping with wicked Uncle Seymour’s preferences.
£28 per person including a pot of tea, add a cocktail for £9.50 each
Seymour’s Parlour, The Zetter Townhouse Marylebone, 28-30 Seymour Street
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