An indulgent array of sweet and savoury treats is deliciously delightful to indulge in and we’re lucky enough to be spoilt with an array of establishments in our area where we can enjoy it. But, as Eileen Leahy found out, things are being taken to another level by One Warwick Park’s Head Chef André Woodward who is putting a twist on this teatime tradition…
FROM quaint country tea rooms to rustic farm shops and luxury hotels, you’re never too far from a silver tiered stand of gooey cakes and freshly baked scones adorned with clotted cream and strawberry jam in and around Tunbridge Wells. But now there’s an establishment that’s doing something just a little bit different.
The town’s newest hotel, the four star One Warwick Park, is giving the traditional afternoon tea a little bit of a clever culinary twist by reinterpreting a number of its classic sweet treats and adopting a different themed offering for each season.
“So far we’ve done a Christmas one with mini stollens, mince pies and fruit cakes,” reveals the hotel’s Head Chef André Woodward. “Earlier this year we did an Art Deco theme and we’ve got a Summer Holidays one running a bit later in August,” adds André who had the original brainwave. “I think that by doing this it sets us apart from everyone else and it’s also a lot of fun.
“The Art Deco afternoon tea involved lots of elaborate garnishes and paper cut outs replicating the classic hallmarks of that era such as the flapper girls and speakeasy bars,” he continues as we sit and chat in the slick surroundings ofL’Amore restaurant which is currently Tunbridge Wells’ number one on Trip Advisor having knocked the Hotel Du Vin off its top spot.
“There were a lot more savoury items on the Art Deco one: We had mini Caesar salads in shot glasses, devilled eggs and Jersey Royals stuffed with spring onions and baked cheddar and people loved it.”
With the Summer Holiday theme Andre is going all out to make it as mouth watering and memorable as possible. “We’ll be serving mini glazed donuts which will resemble inflatables, candyfloss as a little garnish on the cakes and caramelised white chocolate ‘sand’, chocolate shells and little sticks of rock.”
The Midsummer Night’s Dream cream tea is the hotel’s current offering and when it is presented to me in all its fancy tiered glory it’s not only beautiful to look at – think an ivy garland wrapped around the cake stand complete with chocolate butterflies and bundles of summer fruits in clear evidence.
It takes all my strength to not immediately dive into the shot glasses filled with slivers of strawberries and vanilla mascarpone as André and I chat, but once the interview is done and a perfectly brewed cup of English breakfast tea is poured out for me it’s game on.
The aforementioned ‘jelly’ is a contemporary take on traditional jelly and ice cream André says as I move onto the perfectly fresh cream filled choux buns dipped in chocolate and fruity micro macaroon pavlovas.
So delicious are the cakes, which also include petite lemon drizzle squares and rich chewy brownies sprinkled with white chocolate ‘snow’, I need to remember that there are still fruit scones and finger sandwiches – wrongly named in my opinion as they are so generous in size – to indulge in.
They include smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber, roast beef and onion marmalade and egg mayonnaise and rocket. All the ingredients are ‘purposefully sourced locally,’ says André. They are served on a variety of breads and help to make this decadent afternoon feast enjoyed in such pleasant surroundings a triumph.
Delicious food and aesthetics aside, what does André think the appeal of taking afternoon tea at One Warwick Park is? “Well I think it’s very relaxed and incredibly sociable. You can take your time here, soak up the atmosphere and catch up very leisurely over tea and cake or perhaps with a glass of Prosecco. What could be better?”
Afternoon tea is served seven days a week from midday until 5pm in L’Amore and One Warwick Park’s Atrium. Prices start from £16 per head or £25 per couple and booking is essential.