Afternoon Tea at The Balcon, London

London, UK
May 2016

The Balcon London is only a few minutes walk from Piccadilly Circus and Charing Cross Stations.  Connected to the Sofitel Hotel, The Balcon is nicely decorated with a main dining room, St. James Bar, and The Rose Lounge.

Normally, afternoon tea is served in The Rose Lounge, but we were seated in the main dining room (pictured below).

Although there was a pretty good variety in their tea menu, you could only choose one tea.  Of course they refilled the kettle (promptly) with hot water, but I always appreciate being able to pair teas with food.  I went with the Teguanyin Green Oolong, which was a fresh tasting oolong.  Unfortunately, the longer it sat in the hot water, the more bitter it became.

As highlighted on the menu, this was an afternoon tea with a French twist.  I would say that the only French hint came from the sweets, and that wasn’t even overt.

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I’m not sure if all of the teas are served in the iron teapots, or if it was just because I ordered a Chinese tea.  The food was served on a two tiered stand.

The tri-colored sandwiches were tasty with either ham or salmon.  The bread was nice and fluffy, not stale or soggy.  The egg salad sandwiches were light and fresh tasting with the addition of the fresh herbs.  The beetroot and goat cheese was probably my favorite, but if you don’t like goat cheese this would definitely not be your thing.

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The scones were a little dry and overbaked slightly, but were tasty overall.  They were plain, chocolate, and raisin scones with raspberry jam, lemon curd, and clotted cream.

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The sweets were the highlight of the meal, proper cakes to end an afternoon tea.  The enemies of these sweets were temperature and time.  The sweets were rather cold when they first came out on the stand.  As they continued to sit there, they didn’t sweat, but they did become rather soft.  The chocolate and mousse tart suffered the most, making cutting almost impossible.  The lemon tart-like dessert was delightfully tart while the marshmallow on top was a nice change from the typical meringue.  The passionfruit mousse was my favorite.  I love a good tart and sweet mix.  The strawberry tart was also refreshing and light in flavor with the chantilly cream.

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The service was great, the food was pretty good, the tea was ok, but all of this is pretty difficult to find in London it seems.  We left pretty satisfied with the tea.  I wouldn’t say this was the best, but you could definitely do worse.

Tea 2/5, one choice (refillable), good variety
Food 3.5/5
Atmosphere 3.5/5
Service 4/5
Overall 3.25/5

The Balcon
12:00pm to 6:00pm daily

 

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