Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea, Sanderson London

Categories Afternoon Tea, Dining, Eating Out, London, London Hotels, Restaurants, Sanderson London
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I try to eat healthily 80% of the time but I also think it’s important to go out and be naughty sometimes. And, luckily for me, the other week I got the chance to be ultra naughty when I was invited to try the new Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at Sanderson London.

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the hotel has re-launched its renowned afternoon tea with a new and improved menu. Having been a sell-out success over the past two years, the Mad Hatter’s Tea is one of London’s best offerings when it comes to tea, cake and scones, and this new menu is even more refined.

Upon arriving in the hotel’s Courtyard Garden, which is decked out with flowering trees, fountains, mosaics and a pool as the centrepiece, we were greeted with a glass of champagne and invited to peruse the menu – found hidden within vintage books – before being talked through the different teas on offer, with samples of each presented in beautiful glass trinkets. Inspired by some of the story’s notable characters, the teas are perfectly matched with intriguing ingredients that are subtle enough to ensure you still enjoy the experience of drinking them, with no distracting or overwhelming gimmicks. My favourites were the Alice, the White Rabbit and the Queen of Hearts.

As well as trying the experience, I also got to have a chat with Chef Matthew, who, along with a close team, was tasked with the menu reinvention challenge. He told me that after sampling pretty much every afternoon tea in London (tough job!) for inspiration, it then took four months for him and the team to create the new menu – it was clear to see the thought that had gone into it.

With the savoury options, Matthew explained how they wanted to offer a little more than finger sandwiches alone, instead incorporating traditional afternoon tea elements into more unique items. An afternoon tea favourite, smoked salmon makes an appearance in the form of a quail scotch egg with caviar, while the all important cucumber sandwich is, of course, on the menu, with cream cheese and bright green, fresh lime bread. More quirky additions are a croque monsieur and a crab eclair.

After the savouries, the sweet treats were brought out on a traditional tier, spruced up with a sprouting tea cup topping that continued the Alice in Wonderland theme. Initially our reaction was that there didn’t seem to be much food there, with only one scone each and rather small pastries. But, as Matthew had expressed to me, it in fact turned out to be much more manageable than your typical afternoon tea – we were able to devour everything and were both comfortably full by the end. It’s also important to note that everything is unlimited, with the option to ask for more scones, sandwiches or whatever you fancy – pace yourself though as it’s deceptively filling!

The scones were generously portioned, light, fluffy, and, much to my delight, plain rather than fruit – who wants nasty little raisins hiding in their scones? The pastries continued the deliciousness with no overly sweet nasties that didn’t deserve to be on the menu, which can quite often happen with afternoon tea. Highlights for me were the red velvet ladybird, the White Rabbit’s pocket watch macaroon and the oreo cookie Queen of Hearts soldier. The drink me potion, which is actually the same recipe as the previous Mad Hatter’s Tea, also proved a delicious conclusion. Matthew let me in on a little secret too, whispering that most of the sweet treats are in fact gluten free – great news for celiacs! Apparently they don’t want to shout about this in case people assume it won’t taste very nice, but I can assure you it absolutely does. Hopefully I don’t get in trouble for letting the (Cheshire) cat out of the bag…

Overall, it was a beautifully bonkers experience that sits perfectly between quirky and exquisite. I would recommend it to anyone for a special occasion.

Prices at the time of my visit:

Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea £48
Mad Hatter’s Champagne Afternoon Tea £58
Mad Hatter’s Pink Champagne Afternoon Tea £65
Kids (aged 4 to 11) £35

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