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mango cheesecake

Afternoon tea, Hotels, Hotels - Design, Hotels - Luxury, London

Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea At Sanderson London

Mad Hatter’s Tea at Sanderson is one of the most inventive and popular afternoon teas in London.  I tried and loved the classic Mad Hatter’s Tea during a staycation at Sanderson and last week I was delighted to return and try the brand new afternoon tea, curated by Luna & Curious, who present the hotel’s super stylish gift shop.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea is served daily in the courtyard garden, but don’t be put off by the cold weather, as the terrace is fully covered and the powerful heater lamps keep it warm and toasty.

We started with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne and selected our tea from tiny glass bottles filled with loose leaf tea to help you make a decision.  We went for a pot of fragrant Earl Grey and later tried a delicious pot of rhubarb and custard tea, which I would recommend for something a little different.

Our spectacular three-tier stand came laden with decadent, colourful treats and our lovely waitress explained the tea in detail.  The Mad Hatter also stopped by with a looking glass, naturally.

We started with a selection of sandwiches on flavoured breads inventively rolled with swirls of fillings including Smoked Cumbrian ham with wholegrain mustard, cucumber and chive cream cheese, cold smoked salmon and lemon butter and egg mayonnaise with watercress and smoked sea salt.

What I love about tea at Sanderson is that they ask about any dietary requirements or preferences before serving the tea.  With the previous tea, I was unable to eat the Chocolate Opera cake due to my allergy to coffee, so unexpectedly the chef made me a brand new coffee-free cake.  There is no coffee included in the new tea, but I was happy to be brought a plate of just Cumbrian ham and wholegrain mustard sandwiches all to myself.

Savoury scones served with herb butter, alongside the traditional sweet scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, were a great addition and I loved the dainty, mini asparagus quiches.

Then, it was on to the sweets, starting with the ‘Drink Me’ Potion – a tiny bottle filled with three sweet, fruity layers of passion fruit jelly, creamy coconut and banana purée.  The melting mango cheesecake was enveloped in striped white chocolate in a teardrop shape, with a cool, creamy cheesecake filling, hiding a gooey yolk of fresh mango purée.  The ’Tick Tock’ traditional Victoria sponge featured sweet strawberry jam and vanilla creme packed densely between layers of fine sponge and iced with a clock design on top.

The matcha green tea and white chocolate mousse served in a chocolate tea cup was lightly whipped and the two flavours were a great combination.  By this point, I was almost delirious from the sugary treats, but still found some room for a scrumptious Carrot meringue served on a bed of pea shoots and a ’Strawberries and cream’ homemade marshmallow mushroom.

As covetable as the tea itself are the creative accessories.  Luna & Curious have created bespoke monochrome crockery specially for the afternoon tea with a carnival theme.  The menu is hidden inside a vintage novel – we were given The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins – so you can remind yourself of the flavours and get inspired with a few chapters of a classic.  The surreal, literary Alice in Wonderland theme continues with napkins wrapped with riddles and sugar cubes stacked inside a pretty ballerina music box.

Not to be overlooked is the fabulous Jelly Wonderland - fruit jellies made in Victorian jelly moulds and presented on a Philippe Starck cake trolley.  The colourful jellies are made with real fruit, so they aren’t overly sweet and have a more palatable texture than regular jelly.  I can’t think of another London afternoon tea offering this (only perhaps at a Bompass & Parr tea party), so Sanderson is leading a trend with its jelly trolley.  I particularly liked the green apple, blackcurrant and strawberry flavours.

The new Mad Hatter’s Tea at Sanderson is as imaginative, fun and memorable as ever.  It’s definitely more on the sweet side than most afternoon teas I’ve tried in London, so be prepared to leave in a sugar coma.  Down the rabbit hole of the Sanderson is the perfect place to spend an afternoon and let the clocks spin backwards.

Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea is priced at £35 per person.  Champagne afternoon tea with a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne is £45 per person.

For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Sanderson

All photos by Chérie City

London, Restaurants

Comptoir Libanais, South Kensington

Comptoir Libanais must be one of the most uplifting cafe-restaurants in London, as the bright colours and delicious aromas always awaken the senses when walking in Marylebone.  Now, Comptoir, as it’s affectionately named by those with a serious grilled meat habit, has opened a sister restaurant in the newly-pedestrianised area of Exhibition Road in South Kensington.

Even though the South Kensington branch of Comptoir Libanais has only been open for less than two months, it’s already bringing in the west London masses.  We visited on a weekday, just after 6.30pm, and luckily we had a table reserved, as it was already packed full (with a steady stream of customers thereafter).

The staff gave us a warm welcome and our chirpy waitress Anoushka did a swift turnaround with our orders, bringing our drinks and first course in a matter of minutes.  That’s the way it is at Comptoir Libanais – fast paced and bustling with breezy staff who bring your dishes quickly, then leave you in peace to enjoy them.

The drinks are a real highlight of dining at Comptoir Libanais and they all sound so delicious and refreshing.  We both ordered a glass of Roza Fresh Lemonade (£2.35) – rose syrup, lemon and lime.  The sharpness of the citrus juice was perfectly balanced by the sticky rose syrup, which gave the drink a pretty luminous pink colour.

We started with some hot mezze – three bite-size parcels with richly-flavoured fillings, served with a dipping sauce.  Chicken Sambousek (4.65) were exceptionally tasty freshly-baked pastry parcel filled with slow-cooked shredded chicken, walnuts and sumac.  They were served with a delicious, slightly addictive garlic sauce in a tiny serving dish.  If you’re heading out afterwards, you might like to consider swapping for yogurt, as it’s seriously strong, but if Comptoir is your last port of call (or you just don’t care), order it in abundance!

Pumpkin Kibbeh (£4.65) came as three wheat parcels filled with roasted pumpkin, walnuts and pomegranate molasses with pumpkin and yogurt sauce.  They were delightfully dense and crispy with a rough texture on the outside revealing soft spiced pumpkin inside.  They went very well with the cool pinkish yogurt that had a hint of mint and dill.

We couldn’t resist trying a small hommos (£2.85), another creative spelling of the dip we know as ‘houmous’, with pitta bread (£1 for two pieces).  The hommos is authentic and smooth with a hint of bitterness – totally unrecognisable from the supermarket variety, although similar to the also excellent Hummus Bros.  I also loved the traditional addition of whole chick peas and a swirl of olive oil – heaven in a bowl.  The pitta bread was exceptionally good too – fresh, fluffy , springy and served warm.

For the main course, I ordered Chicken & Green Olive Tagine (£7.95) with preserved lemons, served with organic couscous.  The stew was slow-roasted, subtly aromatic and fragrant, with a generous amount of spice-infused chicken.  The couscous was light, buttery and grainy – not at all over-cooked.

Steven went for the Mixed Grill (£12.95) – lamb kofta, chicken kofta, chicken shish taouk with organic rice. The meat was exceptionally well-marinated and was succulent, tender and juicy.  Interestingly, it was served nutty, flavoursome wild Basmati rice and had all the accompaniments such as a grilled half tomato, roasted green chilli, yogurt, hot chilli sauce and garlic sauce.  My tagine was delicious but I’ll admit, I had a bit of food envy, as the meat done on the charcoal grill was just so tasty.

We washed everything down with lemonade-based cocktails – Vodka Roza and Vodka Roomana, which was made up of pomegranate lemonade with a dash of rose syrup.  The flavoured lemonades tasted great with vodka and were a refreshing change from heavier, complex cocktails.

I was also pleased to see a wine list full of my favourite Lebanese wines, particularly Château Musar, which I tried for the first time last summer at Four Seasons Beirut.  This is a real treat, as while Lebanese wine gaining popularity in the UK, there is rarely such a large selection available.

An unfortunate delivery failure meant that there were no macaroons and a limited selection of cakes for dessert, but no matter, as there were mountains of baklawa to sample instead and it made a difficult dessert decision a lot easier!

Baklava comes in portions of four pieces, so you can pick and choose which ones you’d like to try.  I particularly like cashew baklawa, so I ordered one piece of Bokaj, two pieces of Assabee and one piece of walnut Hadath (all £2.45 for four pieces), based on our waitress’ recommendation.

The baklawa was out of this world – literally some of the best I’ve ever tasted.  Each piece was chewy and sweet with non-greasy flaky pastry and finely chopped nuts.  They are also very reasonably priced, particularly for sitting in, which often gives restaurants and cafes an excuse to over-charge.

Steven tried the Baked Mango Cheesecake (£4.85), which had a delicious mango compote, creamy vanilla filling and a fine, sugary biscuit base.

We finished off with a pot of Fresh Rose Mint Tea (£2.45 each), poured by our waiter and served in a traditional Middle Eastern silver tea pot with petite glass teacups.  The rose made the tea more exciting than regular mint tea and it was typically slightly cloudy with peppery sweetness.

After your meal, you can browse Comptoir’s very own souk, offering hand-weaved bags, embroidered kaftans, traditional silver tea pots and a selection of Middle Eastern groceries and delicacies.  This is a great touch, as you’re able to buy all of the delicious ingredients that go into the dishes and recreate the experience at home.  Next time I visit, I’ll definitely pick up some of the rose syrup used in the lemonades.

The new location is a clever move for Comptoir Libanais, as there is a huge French community in South Kensington and a regular flow of hungry museum-goers looking for a bite to eat before or after exploring the V&A or Natural History Museum.

The warm, welcoming staff are incredibly efficient and can handle anything that a busy restaurant throws at them with grace.  Food is excellent and well-priced, considering the portion sizes and high quality ingredient.

Comptoir Libanais may have found itself a new regular, as there are many more dishes to try, and I must get my hands on some of those saffron and apple macaroons!

For more info and locations, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Comptoir Libanais South Kensington

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