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June 22, 2012

Eric Lanlard's Afternoon Tea at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower

By Spear's

Afternoon teas are springing up all over London’s grand hotels and top restaurants, with plenty of innovative items: octopus dumplings, anyone?

Afternoon teas are springing up all over London’s grand hotels and top restaurants, with plenty of innovative items: octopus dumplings, anyone?

Still, there’s quite a lot to be said for a more traditional approach, which is what Eric Lanlard has done at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower. This somewhat understates his achievement: he has blown the dust – literally and metaphorically – off their tea service and given it a shock of colour and a subtle palate.

It follows the savoury-sweet-scone formula, but the elements are judiciously refreshed. Prawn and lobster royale in brioche, cream cheese and cucumber wheels and ornate smoked salmon sandwiches sit on the top deck of the narrow Deco-ish cake-stand. The brioche satisfyingly straddles the boundary between kitsch and fresh, and besides, it’s delicious so it doesn’t matter.

The second tier is the most inventive. Eton mess in a shotglass with a tiny pipette of mango coulis appealed, as did the tiny tarts with a white chocolate portrait of The Queen, as if Warhol did patisserie. The red velvet cake ball in white (but green) chocolate with a dark chocolate crown was too sweet for my taste, but it’s a lovely idea.

Finally, you hit the scones. As a baker of scones myself, I can happily confess these are superior, and they’re simple – no yuzu curd or goat’s milk cream.

Eric is the new baker-boy on the block, with his own TV show (Baking Mad on Channel 4) and a new book out, Tart It Up!, so capturing him is quite a coup for the Jumeirah. Rather than other places where afternoon tea seems a desperate add-on, here is a year’s worth of work which actually feels rather subtler than the Jumeirah’s usual vibe.

Among the rash of afternoon teas, if you’re around Knightsbridge, you should profitably check out Eric Lanlard’s: enough wit to keep your attention, more than enough flavour to keep you eating.

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Afternoon Tea by Eric Lanlard at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower costs £40 per person, plus service, or £45 with a glass of champagne. Book here

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