Nothing pleases me more than the thought of cake washed down by a good cup of tea. This is why ‘Afternoon Tea’ is one of my favourite ways to dine. Add to that a beautiful setting like 108 Brasserie on Marylebone Lane and some seasonal twists and I’m in heaven. The theme this year is ‘English Country Garden’ and it’s carried through every dish with great charm. There is even a tiny sprig of lavender on each plate. Rhubarb is the theme of the particular day that I am there, and this is shown even in the home-made jam to go with the deliciously still-warm scones. Served on a mini-astro turf lawn, with a packet of wildflower seeds to take home, I must confess to going rather Instagram-crazy on more than one occasion.
Tea for two
I’m skipping ahead here though, as first we are settled into our luxurious, yet cosy and sunny window seat and shown a comprehensive list of teas. Supplied by The Rare Tea Company there is a vast variety of black, green and white teas to try, as well as herbal infusions. We opt for the traditional English Breakfast and Earl Grey teas, accompanied by a glass of Gusbourne Estate Brut Sparkling rosé wine from Kent. Served in pretty art deco coupe glasses, and the tea in silver pots, we feel terribly ‘1920s’ and sit back and wait for our afternoon tea to arrive.
Tiers of joy
Three tiers of delights are placed on our table and we begin with the savoury option. This may seem obvious, but when you are faced with the aforementioned warm scones it’s quite difficult not to dive straight into those. Smoked salmon on homemade Guinness bread, coronation chicken tartlets and an unusual broad bean and pea humus are delicious, but the stand out winner is the Dorset crab. Served on a piece of charred watermelon, it’s delicate and tasty and the contrasts of smokiness and tartness from the melon beautifully complement the creaminess of the crab. Savoury course swiftly despatched, the joy continues with a stunningly presented lavender panna cotta served in a shot glass with a sparkling wine jelly on the top. A rhubarb profiterole, elderflower and strawberry Battenberg and chocolate and rose opera cake are enjoyed in equal measure.
Going, going, scone
It’s time for a breather before the scones, and our charming waiter tells us that it takes their chef around six to seven hours to make the Battenberg and opera cakes, because of all the layers and sections. It shows the attention to detail that is apparent throughout our afternoon with the interiors, the presentation and the food and drink itself. The scones are a triumph, and still warm. One plain and one with poppy seeds and infused with orange blossom, they are delicious with rhubarb jam and Devonshire clotted cream. We finish with a final glass of fizz and toast our archetypal English afternoon.
£32 per person or £42 including a glass of sparkling wine. Gluten free menu offered too.