Fortnum & Mason has served their award-winning afternoon tea for almost a century, so when my husband and I received a gift voucher to try it, we were excited to see what the fuss was about! It initially opened as a grocery store in 1707 but then developed into an upmarket London department store in Piccadilly. Their afternoon tea is served in The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon on the 4th floor which was opened by the Queen in 2012. The delicious pâtisseries, scones & sandwiches are all made on site & paired with an impressive selection of tea. F&M has also kept up with the times by offering a gluten-free version of their afternoon tea which meant that my husband and I were able to enjoy this experience as a couple.
You can either take one of the lifts or make your way up the red-carpeted stairs to the 4th floor where you are greeted by classic tunes from the grand piano. It was a busy Saturday afternoon when we visited and were asked to wait with a few other guests in the waiting area before we were taken to our table.
The elegant and spacious tea salon is decorated with F&M’s signature colour Eau de Nil as is the fine china on which afternoon tea is served.
We started off our classic afternoon tea with a glass of Fortnum’s Rose, Billecart-Salmon N.V. & a glass of white wine.
It was actually my husband who was given a voucher for afternoon tea as a present, I knew that some venues offer gluten-free afternoon tea but wasn’t sure whether Fortnum & Mason caters for special diets. Thankfully they do and we both were impressed when the pretty three-tier stand arrived, filled with delicious looking gluten-free treats (F&M also have vegan & dairy free options).
At the bottom of the tier was a selection of gluten free sandwiches – rare breed hen’s egg mayonnaise with chives, cucumber with mint & lemon butter, glazed ham with English mustard, Fortnum’s smoked salmon and coronation chicken. They were the same selection of sandwiches as on my stand with the only difference of the bread.
On the next tier were two beautiful looking scones – one plain & one fruit scone.
On the top tier were the gluten-free pâtisseries, a banana mandoline, apple calvados cake, chocolate pot, vanilla spongecake & a rose macaroon. Of course, I had to try all of them which were not only pretty to look at but a delight to eat as well. The rose macaroon was especially good, traditionally made with almond flour & egg whites they are great for people on a gluten-free diet.
As mentioned, the sandwiches on my stand were exactly the same apart from the bread – rare breed hen’s egg mayonnaise with chives, cucumber with mint & lemon butter, glazed ham with English mustard, Fortnum’s smoked salmon and coronation chicken. It was really noticeable that quality ingredients have been used for them and the best thing is that they are replenished as often as you want.
The scones were perfectly baked, with a light and soft texture and golden colour on the outside – a lovely traditional afternoon treat.
The scones were accompanied by their own three-tier stand consisting of F&M strawberry preserve, F&M lemon curd and a big pot of clotted cream on the very top. I personally prefer my scones following the Devonshire method by first adding a layer of clotted cream followed by strawberry preserve on top, the other way round is called the Cornish method – a fun debate between afternoon tea lovers on which way is best 🙂
The highest tier of my tea tower had a rose eclair, round vanilla cheesecake with a blueberry coating, granny smith apple cake as well as a Black Forrest swiss roll. Beautiful to look at and great flavour combinations. There was no way I could eat all of them in one go but the nice thing about afternoon tea is to come home with a little goodie bag that was nicely prepared for us at the end of the meal.
Throughout afternoon tea guests can also choose any of the cakes on the cake carriage or take a piece home with them – which is what I’ve done. There were no gluten-free options on the cake carriage but my husband was more than happy with the sweet options he had on his stand.
While we enjoyed the last bits of our afternoon tea I noticed Mary Berry come in to enjoy afternoon tea on one of the other tables which just speaks for the quality of afternoon tea you get at Fortnum & Mason! She was also very kind and happy to have a photograph taken with one of her fans 🙂
Last but not least I would like to talk about F&Ms amazing teas. You can either opt for Fortnum’s Famous Blends or the Rare Teas from which you can choose as many as you want during afternoon tea. I opted for the latter, starting with a nice full bodied Assam, the Hattialli GTGFOP Assam, followed by a pot of Rose Pouchong which is made from rose petals – the smell & taste of roses was just beautiful! I love tea more than coffee and would have enjoyed spending a whole afternoon at F&M just tasting different teas. Another tea that I would have liked to taste was the Honey Orchid Oolong but unfortunately, they were out of it and by the time they let me know we had to leave so I had no time left to chose a different tea. It was very busy and I wish we would have come on a quieter afternoon during the week to make the most of it.
Whenever you find yourself at Fortnum & Mason it is a must to browse through the different departments. The food hall at the bottom has the finest produce on offer, we couldn’t resist buying a few things to enjoy at home and how cute are those champagne bottles (of course you’d need to buy three of them ;-))
Fortnum & Mason is especially beautiful around Christmas
there are so many cute decorations
and just things to admire like this small gingerbread house.
You’ll definitely find everything you need if you want an extra luxurious Chrismas!
You can even decorate your Christmas tree with their miniature hampers (F&M has a dedicated area for their signature hampers – the real sized ones though),
another option is to decorate it with their tiny teapots to be reminded of a lovely afternoon tea!