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July 2021 / Food & Drink / by Liz Skone James

HOT TABLE: Cruella Afternoon Tea at The Lanesborough

I confess, though I’ve missed eating out during lockdown, I’ve come to relish the fact that, come teatime, I can lock the door and pop my PJs on without any fear of missing out. And I’m not quite ready to relinquish the 10pm bedtime yet, even though, in theory, I could be painting the town red every night… I’m sure it’s temporary, and that I’ll find my evening mojo soon, but in the meantime, I’m making up for it with brunches and afternoon teas. Two of my all-time favourite treats. So, I jump at the chance to sample The Lanesborough’s newest tea – themed around the new Disney film Cruella – not least because it involves catching up with a friend who I haven’t seen in months.

And it is such a treat, we are welcomed like long lost family and ushered into the hotel’s serene Céleste restaurant. The sky is blue for the first time in weeks, and it is glorious sitting beneath the domed glass roof. No sooner have we settled ourselves, than a much-needed glass of bubbly appears, and we toast our happy reunion.

This is no traditional tea: yes, there’s sandwiches, pastries and scones, but not as we know them. Paying homage to Disney’s chic villain, head pastry chef Kevin Miller has let his imagination run wild creating something he describes as “a little bit wild.” The spread is truly a work of art. There’s a golden ‘inside-out’ lemon cheesecake, complete with an injection of blackcurrant sauce (“don’t eat the pipette,” we’re warned); a clever chocolate hat sits atop a red choux bun; striking black hearts enclose a refreshing raspberry mousse; pouting red lips crown an irresistible treacle tartlet; and a chocolate encased millionaire’s shortbread masquerades as a canvas on a miniature easel. Even the scones have been given an unexpected update, with chocolate chips and dried cranberries (there are plain scones, too, for the purists). It all looks exquisite, and it tastes even better, though we make the usual mistake of filling up on the dainty-looking sandwiches (which are accompanied by an incredible prawn and squid ink tartlet with lobster mayonnaise) and end up having to ask for a box to take the remaining bits home. Still, back home that evening, in my PJs with Netflix on, I’m grateful for the leftovers. It well and truly trumps my customary digestive.

The Cruella-inspired tea is available until 4 August and is priced from £55 per person (£74 with a glass of Champagne). Hyde Park Corner, SW1X (020 7259 5599; lanesborough.com)