Is there anything in life more indulgent than afternoon tea? Lynda and I live in different cities, but it’s become a tradition of ours to meet several times a year for this quintessentially British meal – and we’ve enjoyed some wonderful experiences.
Today marked another wonderful experience, at the Kimpton Fitzroy London, on Russell Square. If the name isn’t familiar, I suspect that’s because this is a destination which likes to fly beneath the radar: it has no need to shout about its presence.
This 19th century building, with its ornate terracotta façade, occupies a full block along the eastern side of Bloomsbury’s Russell Square, proudly guarded by four British queens. Designed in 1898, by Charles Fitzroy Dell, we were immediately wowed by its galleried lobby, which is marble as far as the eye can see and features the most stunning sweeping staircase.
But it was the lobby’s open fire that most attracted us, shivering and hungry on this cold winter’s day. Not to mention the Kimpton Fitzroy’s incredibly friendly & welcoming staff, who ensured that our afternoon was delightful in every way.
We were wowed all over again as we were guided into Palm Court, pausing to admire its soaring glass ceiling and pretty pockets of greenery. Seated upon eminently comfortable sofas, we perused the menu – and knew immediately that this would be a fantastic gastronomic experience.
In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that, for me, the sandwiches and scones from the essential elements of afternoon tea: I can take or leave the pastries and sticky cakes. Well, someone at the Kimpton Fitzroy must have been listening, because the sandwiches we ate today were possibly the finest I’ve ever eaten. First, though, came a delectable appetiser: Potato, Truffle & Quail Egg with Melba Toast, a sumptuous pot of lingering flavours and textures (especially when the egg yolk began oozing into the truffle: mmm).
Pausing to acknowledge the beautiful Limoges porcelain on which they were served, we next feasted on sandwiches including Smoked Trout, Fennel & Apple Beetroot Bread, Carrot, Star Anise & Wood Sorrel White Bread, Tandoori Chicken on Raita Caraway Bread and Goat’s Curd with Fig Mustard on Onion Bread. All were divine – especially the Goat’s Curd – and the different types of bread elevated this course into something special.
We liked the choice of white and black teas and were interested to learn that they hailed from the Rare Tea Co. Founded by Henrietta Lovell, the renowned ‘Tea Lady’, the company’s mission is to source the world’s best loose leaf teas direct from tea farmers and their gardens.
You can try as many of the teas as you like, so being partial to a white tea I began with the ‘White Peony’, loving its delicate tones and how they complemented the sandwiches. Later, I moved on to the ‘Sri Lankan Hand-rolled’ tea, which proved a good foil to the sweetness of the scones, jam and cream. For her part, Lynda pronounced herself highly satisfied with the wonderfully-named ‘Golden Lily Milk Oolong’, a Taiwanese tea.
On to the scones and, accompanied by clotted cream, passion fruit curd and berry jam, there were four different types: Original, Camomile Tea, Chocolate Pearls and Candied Lemon & Orange. And no, we didn’t have four each: I, being something of a traditionalist where scones are concerned, tucked into the Original and Chocolate Pearl, with Lynda taking the other two. Warm from the oven, they melted in the mouth, leaving us very contented indeed.
It’s lucky I’m not a fan of sticky cakes because I had no appetite left for the triple tier of exquisite creations that followed. Instead, our lovely waitress offered us a doggie bag to take them home with us; nothing is too much trouble at the Kimpton Fitzroy.
Sated, we treated ourselves to an exploration of the hotel and were impressed by what we saw: this is, undoubtedly, somewhere you would want to stay whilst visiting London. Its décor is elegant & welcoming and its location, in Bloomsbury, second to none.
A treat of an experience – and one that I highly recommend.