Sandwich verdict: we’re massive fans of traditional finger sandwiches at teatime, but these work well and they’re not as weird as they sound. If you want something more esoteric or fancy than the norm, these are for you. We don't normally eat foie gras (because it's morally repugnant and we don't generally like the taste), but we tried this, and we have to admit it was very good.
As are the cakes. They’re designed to reflect Stephen Webster’s latest jewellery collection. They are beyond beautiful. And they are also delicious. The best thing about them is that, although it looks like a sugar load, each cake is actually very light. Nothing is overly sweet – the red peppercorn and dark chocolate shortbread tastes more cocoa-ey than cloying chocolatey, for example, and the pistachio mousse is pretty refreshing, too. So eating the entire plate is actually far less difficult than it looks.
And then there are the scones. You’d think they’d be the most boring part of the tea, but, whoah, they are actually its triumph. You get a plain one, one with raisins soaked in Louis Roederer, and a chocolate and marinated orange one. They’re all melt-in-the-mouth light, the raisin one has a great tart aftertaste, and the chocolate one – a plain scone with chocolate drops in – is quite possibly the best scone we ever had. And we grew up in Cornwall, where people eat scones about seven times a day. In fact, these caused us to have our first ever sconegasm.
In short, it’s a pretty phenomenal experience. Your waiters are also trained tea sommeliers so they pour a good cup, and the vibe in Palm Court is far less stuffy than we’d imagined – people in jeans (it’s smart casual), trendies hanging out and people looking much more relaxed than they are at some of the other grand dame hotels. Although not quite relaxed enough to steal some scones. Believe us.