Afternoon Tea at The Georgian, Harrods, (££)
87-135 Brompton Road, SW1X 7XL
Summary: decent but lacklustre food, disappointing beverages overall , but the excellent service and relaxed environment made it a surprisingly enjoyable experience. Only go when it’s not busy and you can enjoy the environment at leisure.
Value for money: 7/10
Recommend? Yes, but only when it’s quiet and you can relax and enjoy the atmosphere
Practical information: £42pp (exc 10% service charge), classic sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and preserves, pastries, and selection of tea/coffee/hot chocolate. Unlimited refills on everything. Halal and other dietary options available on request.
There is something about deciding on a whim that you’re going to have a grand afternoon tea without a reservation – and actually get a table – that is deliciously indulgent. When I first discovered the Georgian, tucked away on the 4th floor of Harrods right next to the Mezzah Lounge, it was heaving during the Christmas rush, and there was no way I was getting a table without a reservation. Hungry after some shopping a few months later on a Friday afternoon, I tried again, and was seated with no wait (you are advised to book at the weekend). Ensconced in my burgundy velvet love seat for one, I perused the menu and made my choices: the classic afternoon tea with Moroccan mint tea to start.
The Georgian restaurant is archetypal of a traditional, grand tea room: beautiful velvet seating, an Art Deco glass ceiling feature, a pianist tinkling away in the background. It is quiet, calm and pleasing.
The sandwich selection – turkey and tomato chutney on granary; smoked salmon on beetroot bread; cucumber and cream cheese on white bread; egg on white bread; artichoke and tomato on granary bread (roast beef is also available but was not halal on the day I visited) – were all good but not great. They were straightforward, basic sandwiches, with no complex or exciting flavours. Also, the filling to bread ratio was quite low – too much bread, not enough filling. The salmon sandwich was the best of the selection, but even then I was baffled by the choice of beetroot bread, especially since I couldn’t taste it in the bread – but it looked interesting.
There is also a hot savoury – a goats’ cheese and caramelised red onion tartlet – that was tasty.
Scones: Plain and fruited, these are served on request, and brought out warm. The scones are on the firmer, crisp side, and one of my fruit scones looked like it had been overcooked. The preserves include lemon curd (more creamy than tangy), strawberry preserve, rose and cranberry jelly, and clotted cream. The star flavour was the rose and cranberry preserve, which even I liked (I don’t like rose): the flavour was delicate but distinct, and really complemented the scones and cream. Scones are replenished on request.
The scones with strawberry preserve (left) and rose and cranberry jelly (right)
The pastries: When I went, they had been serving a new selection of pastries for the last couple of weeks prior to that, and disaster! There was no chocolate option at all – what?! What I got were creme caramel mini profiteroles, vanilla pastry tart, rose and pistachio cake, and a pear and burnt caramel tart. They also brought a mini strawberry trifle as an extra treat, which was nice and fruity. The creme caramel tasted a lot like pear (?); the pear tart was nice and light; the rose and pistachio cake tasted neither of rose nor pistachio; the vanilla pastry tart was very vanilla-y and tasty. These would probably have been refilled as well, but by that point my afternoon tea sugar coma was kicking in, and I was at risk of not being able to get up due to expanding belly, so I didn’t ask.
My mint tea was lovely, but the tea is left to steep in a large pot on the table (poor tea etiquette), so it gets darker and more bitter with every cup. You can change teas/drinks as often as you like – I switched to a hot chocolate halfway through, but it was really disappointing so I barely took two sips. They brought me a virgin mint mojito, too, which was really light and refreshing.
Despite the lacklustre food, the service was excellent and attentive: I was frequently asked whether I wanted replenishments; they brought additional sandwiches without prompting; I could get somebody’s attention easily; when there was a mix-up with a drink I didn’t order (the mojito!), they took it off the bill with no fuss. In addition, the environment was really pleasant: I could just relax and eat without rush, it was quiet with a nice hum of activity, and the setting itself is very nice.
Overall verdict of afternoon tea at The Georgian…
Was the food good? Yes, nothing wrong. Was it exceptional? No. But I was having such a good time enjoying the excellent service, relaxing in a lovely setting without being rushed, that I actually didn’t care. All-in-all, an enjoyable experience.