Thames Foyer at The Savoy: afternoon tea
Read our review of the elegant afternoon tea on offer at the Thames Foyer room at The Savoy, London. Endless pastries and cakes and twists on classic sandwiches in a beautiful setting with ghosts of the tea-dance past
The Thames Foyer room at The Savoy is the perfect setting for afternoon tea. A glass-domed ceiling floods the room with natural light and an impressive gazebo encasing a stone fountain full of pink flowers and greenery takes centre stage, to form an elegant winter garden. Tiny silver vases of pink roses are popped on the white linen clothed tables, too, along with traditional crockery and silverware.
Start with a glass of Champagne – rich Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV with a long finish, or step up and with a coppery pink Moet & Chandon Rose NV with zesty, wild strawberry notes. The extensive tea menu can be overwhelming, but the waiters are on hand to guide you to the best blend for you. The Savoy Afternoon Blend combines Ceylon and Darjeeling in a crisp, refreshing tea with a hint of citrus. For something a bit different, though, try white peony & rose – a pretty brew of white tea buds and leaf with whole rose buds that add a subtle hint of fragrant Turkish delight. Lemon verbena with whole leaves is aromatic, with lemon zest pungency and mint-like freshness.
Sandwiches are excellent – laser-cut rectangles of flavoured bread and impeccably sourced fillings. Soft basil bread with cucumber and minted crème cheese; Wiltshire bone ham with grainy mustard and apple chutney on fragrant carrot and coriander bread; and tender classic Coronation chicken on olive-jewelled bread, are all worthy of trying.
If you’ve opted for the traditional afternoon tea your sweet tooth will be duly satisfied with a limitless cake tray from pastry chef Ludwig Hely. The offering is refreshed each season, and the latest Spring menu included fresh strawberry and cream macaroons, zesty lemon tart, chocolate and coffee delice and blackberry jelly sponge. Other delicacies have included lavender icing-topped éclairs filled with subtle vanilla pastry cream; large pink macaroons with wild strawberry jelly and fresh rose-scented Chantilly; and a layered raspberry and chocolate number with crunchy chocolate shortbread, fresh raspberries and a light chocolate mousse on top.
If you’re not the biggest cake fan, opt for the high tea instead as that switches the pastry course for H Forman & Son smoked salmon and poached egg on a crisp brioche disc with crème fraiche, lemon and herbs.
With both, the Thames Foyer signature cakes arrive last are worth saving room for – the finest sponge sandwiching fresh strawberries and cream (check out our foolproof Victoria sponge recipe here).
Star-lined Madonna, Marilyn, Frank and friends ensure the afternoon tea runs smoothly from their ornate frames that line the walls, and familiar tunes unobtrusively float out of the grand piano. Afternoon tea at The Savoy gives you a glimpse into the room’s former life, with a vintage carpet, ornate chandeliers, and white marble columns with gold detail.
And if you can’t bear for it to end? Head to the coutique shop where you can bag some macaroons and pastries to take away for later.
Star of the show: Coronation chicken sandwiches and Savoy Rose macaroon.
Scone rating: 8/10
Perfect for: Jane Austen fans dreaming of tea-dances
Price: Traditional afternoon tea £65pp, champagne afternoon tea from £75pp
Address: 7-12 Half Moon Street, Mayfair, London, W1J 7BH
Words by Alex Crossley
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olive magazine podcast ep65 – Who will win the great scone debate? Jam or cream first?!
On this week’s podcast the team explore the British tradition of afternoon tea, sharing their favourites in London, and get into a debate on which is the right way to serve scones. (Psst, cream is the right way.)