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We love afternoon tea. Anytime we get a chance to have some afternoon tea, we’re there. We’ve experienced afternoon tea from California to Singapore and when we booked our trip to London, we knew we had to do afternoon tea in the country where this tradition was born. Finding the perfect afternoon tea spot was a little tricky since there are so many in London. We thought about visiting the famous Sketch Gallery with the plush, velvet pink chairs and intricate designs but then we found this Science Afternoon Tea at The Drawing Rooms and immediately knew we had to do this one.
We made reservations online for the Science Afternoon Tea which is located inside The Ampersand Hotel. The cost was £39.50 (~$50 USD) per person, which was a big difference in price compared to Sketch Gallery costing £58 (~$75 USD) per person. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind afternoon tea and we figured we’d be in for some good stuff since they won “Best Themed Afternoon Tea” at the Afternoon Tea Awards in 2018. We didn’t even know such awards existed.
It’s hard to miss the entrance outside as the doorway was beautifully decorated with fresh flowers. The tea room was tastefully decorated and it was visually appealing. We were happy that our request to sit next to a window was available and appreciated all the natural light that was beaming in. The table was a bit tiny, but we liked our large cushioned chairs.
To start off our science themed afternoon tea experience, we were presented with a tray of beakers, baking soda, syrup, a syringe, and mango and strawberry purees. The server was so fast at explaining the drink that we didn’t quite catch what the drinks were called, but we believe she said it was some sort of lemonade drink. It was fun making the drink, but the flavors were questionable and way too sweet. Not a great way to start off our afternoon tea, but we were optimistic and didn’t let the first drink let us down.
Candy ordered Jasmine Tea and Crystal selected the Green Tea with Brown Rice. The Green Tea with Brown Rice’s aroma was very similar to barley tea, which is one of our favorite types of tea. Growing up, our mom always had this drink in the fridge. The Jasmine Tea was subtly sweet and highly fragrant. Both teas were fantastic and we pretty much stuck to drinking our tea instead of the lemonade drink we made ourselves.
Our three-tiered plate of delights came fairly fast and the portions were plenty for the both of us. The presentation was beautiful and the assortment of accessories from paint brushes to test tubes quickly got us in the mood for an afternoon tea of science.
On the bottom tier, we had smoked salmon & avocado on blinis, brioche with roast beef, watercress, cornichons, and
chicken with basil & lemon mayonnaise on a bun. We both really enjoyed the chicken bites and the roast beef. Sometimes these mini sandwiches can lack flavor, but the lemon mayonnaise had a refreshing kick to it and it paired nicely with the chicken basil. We loved the roast beef and actually just recently found out that roast beef is a signature national dish of England. We aren’t huge fans of smoked salmon, but wish we were because the presentation of the smoked salmon dish was lovely.
The best part about afternoon tea are the pastries and desserts. The middle tier had the most amazing homemade scones - one was plain and the other had white chocolate and cranberry. We had the option of spreading the Devonshire clotted cream and/or the homemade strawberry preserve. If you’ve ever had scones or strawberry preserve homemade, you know that there’s a huge difference in taste compared to store-bought ones. The scones have the perfect texture and the flavors of real strawberries come through in the strawberry preserve. It also came with lemon curd or freeze dried raspberry, pineapple, and crunchy caramel that we could add on top, but we enjoyed them either with or without the extra spreads.
The pastries on the top tier presented some fun and interesting desserts. The dark chocolate and passion fruit planet mousse was so unique that we felt bad eating it since it was decorated so beautifully. The chocolate spaceman was a nice touch to the science theme and our favorite was the mini dinosaur biscuit and milk chocolate fossil hidden within the chocolate “soil”. We felt like kids digging through a small box of chocolate soil for our mini dinosaur biscuit. We had paint brushes to carefully dust off the soil which made the experience fun and silly at the same time.
When our dishes were first placed on our table, the server poured water into the chocolate planet mousse dish. The dish started to steam like potion and this effect is always so mesmerizing and fun to watch. We do wish that our server could have made this part more interesting. It took them awhile to come to our table to add this effect and once it was done, it was silent. We were having so much fun with these creations but our server just remained silent and left our table.
Upon arrival, the staff was friendly and immediately directed us to our reserved table. After we were sat down at our table, the service became average at best and could have been better. We always had a different server approach our table but there were a few times we wanted to ask a question about our dish and couldn’t get a hold of anyone. It also took awhile to close out our bill. Luckily, we weren’t in a hurry, but it took at least twenty minutes from the time we were done eating to finally get someone’s attention to bring our check.
We had a lovely time and really enjoyed this unique and creative twist on afternoon tea in London. For Crystal, it was the dinosaur fossil digging in chocolate crumbs that really impressed her. And we both loved the homemade scones. It was the only thing we took home with us so that we could save it for breakfast the next day. The tea was also very good.
We hope to be back in London soon so that we can try out many more afternoon tea restaurants.