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Afternoon tea, Art, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London, Restaurants

Matisse Afternoon Tea at Le Méridien Piccadilly, London

In celebration of the must-see new exhibition Henri-Matisse: The Cut-Outs at Tate Modern, Le Méridien Piccadilly offers its own colourful Matisse Afternoon Tea in the stylish Terrace Grill & Bar.

Chef Michael Dutnall took inspiration from the bright colours and angles of Matisse’s iconic works and his birthplace to produce a delectable afternoon tea that tastes just as exquisite as it looks.

I visited the chic Terrace Grill & Bar to try the new Matisse Afternoon Tea on the Easter weekend when central London was blissfully quiet.  The bright and airy Terrace Grill & Bar is split across two levels with a sleek restaurant and a more relaxed bar and lounge.  It combines the elegance of Piccadilly’s Regency architecture with contemporary interiors and striking artworks.

On arrival, we were shown to a table with a cosy, hammock-like sofa and ordered pots of JING Earl Grey tea from the extensive tea menu.

We also tried a French Revolution cocktail, chosen to complement the flavours in the afternoon tea.  A French twist on the classic Aviation cocktail, the French Revolution includes gin, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and rose Champagne.  The refreshing, strong cocktail is served in a tall flute and dipped in sugar, referencing Matisse’s cut-outs.

The Matisse Afternoon Tea is presented on a three-tier stand and the layer of cakes and pastries is sprayed with colour to represent Matisse’s iconic Blue Nude (II).

We started with savories inspired by the south of France and absolutely loved the gourmet Jambon de Bayonne and Brie-filled Croissant and a flavoursome Wrap with Marinated Provencal Vegetables and Tapenade.

Keeping with afternoon tea tradition, there is also a tasty Poached Salmon and Herb Crème Fraiche Sandwich and Egg and Cress Sandwich to munch on.

The test of a good afternoon tea is the scones and these plain and raisin scones were freshly-baked, springy and just the right size.  They were served with delicious strawberry jam and clotted cream.

The sweets treats were delightfully colourful and tempting.  I loved the indulgent Vanilla Pannacotta with Calvados jelly served in a little glass jar and the Battenberg Cake was one of the best I’ve tasted, with a delicate layer of royal icing and not too much marzipan.  The Orange Delice was light as air and the asymmetric blue icing referenced Matisse’s blue cut-outs while the Apple Macarons were perfectly bite-size and filled with apple compote.

A Raspberry Tarte included fresh raspberries on top of silky crème patisserie and finished with crumbled macaron and the Lemon Eclair was filled with zesty lemon curd and topped with vibrant pink icing.

During the afternoon tea, we had the chance to create our own cut-out masterpieces with a box full of art supplies.  While finishing our cocktails, we started snipping away at the coloured card for our own artistic postcards, ending up with two very different takes on Matisse’s vision.  The postcards provided offer 20% discount at Terrace Grill & Bar on your next visit, plus it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon.

The Matisse Afternoon Tea at Le Méridien Piccadilly is a delightful, decadent treat and the perfect complement to the fabulous new exhibition.  If you can, book both on the same day and enjoy a whole day of being dazzled by colour.

The Matisse Afternoon Tea is priced at £30 and is available in the Terrace Grill & Bar until 31st May 2014.  For more information and booking, visit: www.lemeridienpiccadilly.co.uk

Chérie City was a guest of Le Meridien Piccadilly

Photos by Chérie City and Le Meridien Piccadilly

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Bars, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London

The Luggage Room – Mayfair, London

Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square returns to the elegance of the Roaring Twenties with the arrival of The Luggage Room.  On the corner of the square and part of 5 star hotel London Marriott Grosvenor Square, the luxurious speakeasy bar is perfect for a cosy, expertly-mixed cocktail.

As the name suggests, The Luggage Room was once the storage room for the guests in the hotel above.  Designed in Art Deco style, the bar features sumptuous leather seating in chocolate and cream and the walls reflect the exquisite trunks of years gone by with metal studs and checkered patterns.  Vuitton and Goyard trunk enthusiasts will approve!  The initials on the tables also reference the dapper ‘Bentley Boys’, who made a name for themselves zooming around 1920s Mayfair in their Bentley sports cars.

Bar Manager Abdulai Kpekawa, formerly of Roux at The Pembury, has created a well-edited collection of heritage cocktails, including cobblers, cups, martinis and punches.  We were seated in an intimate nook and immediately brought a delicious welcome drink of sweet and fruity Fish House Punch, placed on chic black and gold monogrammed napkins.

We munched on addictive root vegetable crisps and gourmet mixed nuts while perusing the menu.  The cocktails are thoughtfully categorised and while it can be difficult to choose between the tempting concoctions, the list was not overly exhaustive.

I started with the interestingly named Penicillin – Johnnie Walker, lemon juice, honey syrup, ginger and Talisker (£13.50).  I asked Abdulai what made the cocktail have a curious medicinal taste and it is down to the Talisker – a peaty single malt Scotch Whisky from the Isle of Skye.  Steven went for a classic sweet Manhattan – Rye Whiskey, sweet Vermouth and Agnostura Bitters (£12.50).

I was then tempted by the Boston Cobbler – Port, Calvados, lemon, orange and pineapple juice (£13.50).  Cobblers date back to around 1830, however these cocktails, made of a base spirit, sugar and fresh fruit, seem to be having ‘a moment’ in London right now.  The Boston Cobbler was freshing, juicy and potent, served over finely crushed ice in a chilled silver cup with a metal straw.

Steven tried an Aviation – Tanqueray, Maraschino Luxardo, lemon juice and violette (£12.50).  This was another smooth, perfectly blended classic with a fragrant taste from the violette and a boozy cherry at the bottom of the glass.

The bar plates are also suitably traditional, comforting and well-presented.  We loved the Potted ‘Two Hoots’ Barkham Blue Cheese, Spiced Cider Pear Chutney, Sour Dough Chards (£12).  The generous pot of cheese was silky smooth, flavoursome and perfect for dipping. The Crisp Basil Bread (£7) was a tasty, light snack served with an addictive sweet tomato chutney.

Scratchings, Sweet Apple Sauce (£6) came in their own mini frying basket and were well-cooked but quite a challenge on the teeth.  Knawing furiously on a thick piece of crackling is somewhat at odds with the refinement of the bar and a bit of a conversation-stopper.  Other hearty snacks include Melton Mowbray Pork Pies, Salmon Scotch Eggs with Caviar Sour Cream and Marinated Anchovies.

The Luggage Room is a great addition to the Mayfair bar scene, with grown-up cocktails, an intimate setting and charming staff.  Just a short stroll from Selfridges and the Bond Street stores, I can see The Luggage Room being a haunt for post-shopping cocktails.

For more information, visit: www.luggageroom.co.uk

Chérie City was a guest of The Luggage Room

Photos by Chérie City and The Luggage Room