Patisserie and sculpture are unlikely bedfellows. But this unlikely afternoon tea combination proves to be a match made in heaven at the Rosewood London, where Executive pastry chef Mark Perkins has created a menu inspired by Rodin and the Art of Ancient Greece at the British Museum.
Afternoon tea as art
Having worked up an appetite wandering around the exhibition, where ancient and modern statuary are juxtaposed to stunning effect, we head to Rosewood London. Forget olde-worlde chintz and china cake stands, this is an entirely fresh, multi-sensory take on a quintessentially British tradition. Passing a giant chocolate ‘stone’ that guests are encouraged to chisel themselves, we’re shown to our table in the ultra-glamorous Mirror Room. We start proceedings with a glass of bubbly and an amuse bouche while perusing the selection of Mariage Frères teas. Our tea sommelier is exceptionally helpful, guiding us towards the perfect pairing for each course.
The finger sandwiches are impeccable – light-as-a-feather bread, fresh-as-a-daisy fillings – and the scones that follow, served with homemade lemon curd and strawberry and elderflower jam, are equally impressive. As serious cake fans, we’re delighted to discover that the tea features not one, but two patisserie courses. The first round is a selection of three cakes, inspired by Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal, a collection of poetry illustrated by Rodin. There are floral flavours at work here – a macaron with violet and berry notes; a lemon meringue tart that has hints of lavender – that give the traditional confections an intriguing spin.
Which brings us to the second, show-stopping round – three sculptural creations that reinterpret Rodin’s most famous works. The Kiss is represented by shards of white chocolate embracing a marble glazed mousse on a scarlet joconde sponge, while The Thinker has a chocolate silhouette of the sculpture on chocolate sable and chocolate sponge filled with Earl Grey tea mousse. The Age of Bronze is a conceptual take on Rodin’s work, with a caramel crème brûlée covered in chocolate that mimics the patina of weathered bronze. They are almost (almost) too good to eat. But we eat them anyway – and are blown away by the textures and flavours.
This is an afternoon tea that blurs the boundary between food and art; we leave the Mirror Room feeling that we’ve had an extra helping of culture.
The Rosewood Rodin Afternoon Tea will be available for the duration of the exhibition, which runs until 29 July.
The tea is served Monday to Friday, 2pm to 6pm; Saturday and Sunday, 12 noon to 7pm.
£55 per person; £65 with a glass of R de Ruinart Champagne or £67 with R de Ruinart Rosé Champagne
Mirror Room, Rosewood London, 252 High Holborn, WC1V (020 3747 8633; rosewoodhotels.com)