The photos I took for this post are of bakes prepared by The Four Seasons, Dogmersfield, Hampshire
Simple, non-fussy food, prepared with heart, always ticks the boxes for me when eating at home or with friend, and I often favour this approach when eating out.
When it comes to Afternoon Tea, however, when being spoilt rotten is an integral part of the occasion, I look for anything other than simple and non-fussy: the expectation of the thrills that await; marvelling at the intricate work that has gone into creating each treat; deciding what to dive into next; wondering if we are allowed extra sandwiches or scones…………what’s not to adore?
One of the best Afternoon Teas I have ever had
Afternoon Tea is such a passion of mine (those close to me would say it’s an addiction!), not to mention a significant source inspiration for many of my own bakes, and I will happily travel some distance for it. I am fortunate to have had Afternoon Tea in many places around the world and when I am on holiday, one of the first things I do is seek out places that serve Afternoon Tea. But discovering local gems has become something of a mission.
To say that our Afternoon Tea exceeded already high expectations is something of an under-statement! The Four Seasons, in Dogmersfield, Hampshire, delivers an Afternoon Tea that can sit proudly among any of the finest Afternoon Tea venues: for me, it easily joins The Ritz, The Savoy and Belmond Le Manoir as my favourite places to take Afternoon Tea. And it is enticingly close to where I live!
The atmosphere and the settings are wonderful: elegant without being imposing, and oh so relaxed: the epitome of civilised. The views around are stunning and you must spend time walking around the magnificent gardens.
Now, I do hate places where the staff are supercilious (and there are several venues I have been to where this is sometimes the case), but this is most definitely not so at The Four Seasons, where the staff are very friendly and knowledgeable about the food.
On our visit the staff really did make Afternoon Tea such a special occasion, without you feeling as though you should be standing on ceremony – as indeed it should be.
The food is, quite simply, outstanding, with so many “wow” moments.
For me, it is the sandwiches that set both the scene and the standard for any Afternoon Tea (even over the pastries – just!). At The Four Seasons, we were served with an impressive variety, each excellent and with so many lovely fillings and breads; some traditional, some more quirky – great! The trout sandwiches were particularly glorious: I could have eaten a whole plateful just of those without shame, and still come back for more!
A huge shout-out goes to the seriously good smoked salmon muffins, which appealed so much to me with my love of savoury delights: this muffin is such a great idea and tasted phenomenal.
The scones (plain scones and cranberry scones) were the lightest I have had in a long time: they were served with a generous portion of cream and excellent home-made preserves: the lemon curd was especially divine!
The pastries were stunning: a true show-case of precision baking and delivering exciting flavours, which I always admire when it comes to this level of food. Every item was made to such an outstanding quality that it is very hard to pick the best. But if pushed, then the Opéra cake and the macaron were definite highlights for me.
My partner was all up for sneaking into the kitchen and swiping a batch of the white chocolate lollipops! Oh those lollipops, with their crisp white chocolate shell and their light mousse filling, packed with gorgeous nuttyness. Heavenly!
Below is a list of what we were served: and even reproducing it has my taste buds tingling…..
- smoked salmon muffin with caviar
- duck egg mayonnaise in a milk bun
- cucumber & cream cheese sandwich
- chicken ‘bois boudran’ & rocket on onion bread
- poached rainbow trout with garden herb mayonnaise on rye bread
- ham with tomato chutney with watercress
- cardamom & coffee éclair
- coconut & raspberry macaron
- hazelnut praline & white chocolate lollipop
- berry and passion fruit Opéra
- orange jellied pavé, sablé Breton
- plain and cranberry scones
- clotted cream
- home-made strawberry jam
- home-made lemon curd
Value for money
Afternoon Tea at The Four Seasons is £27 per head (as of April 2016): this is exceptional value for money for a full Afternoon Tea.
I know a few people who think this sort of money for Afternoon Tea is insane. But they are missing the point about what a real Afternoon Tea should be: we are not talking about a hurried affair over standard pot of tea with few barely adequate scones and mass-produced preserves that you might get in many a garden centre café!
Here you get the most exquisite selection of sandwiches and pastries, and a very generous amount of tea from an impressive selection. Not to mention replacement plates of sandwiches (always welcome!), all taken over a very leisurely few hours in the most wonderful environment. We were also spoiled somewhat by being given a few extra of their fabulous sweets to take home with us afterwards – and who were we to refuse?
Seriously, I cannot rate Afternoon Tea at The Four Seasons, Hampshire highly enough. Sheer perfection, and this is coming from someone my partner says can be hard to please when it comes to Afternoon Tea, this is a real haven out of London.
When something is so good, so handy and such excellent value for money you know that your Afternoon Tea addiction has no hope of being cured! Nor do you want it to be…….
I cannot wait to return to again and again. A very easy 10/10 from me!
Although I must also fit in a trip to The Four Seasons for dinner.
I am linking to Tasty Tuesdays at HonestMum.com: