On Saturday afternoon I roused myself after only four hours sleep (thank you shift work!), and headed off to meet my mother for a gentile girly afternoon. We were going to visit the Wedding Dress exhibition at the V&A and then go on to Champagne Afternoon Tea at Kettner’s. I had been looking for something different to treat my mum to for her recent birthday at the end of January, and hit upon Afternoon Tea having read and enjoyed various blogger accounts of their experiences. I drew up a shortlist without much difficulty – the trouble was choosing! I had never been to an Afternoon Tea, but Mum had been to the Ritz variety before, so I had a lot to live up to! I eventually settled on Kettner’s, a classy hotel in the middle of Soho, based off the strength of Angie’s review just before Christmas.
First up, the gorgeous Wedding Dresses exhibition at the V&A. I discussed this in full detail here, but suffice it to say that I certainly wasn’t bored on my second visit, and even managed to notice different things this time around! (commemorative napkin of your big day, anyone?) Once again, Kate Moss’s gorgeous dress was one of my favourites (see a shot of that unbelievable train below), along with a stunning Norman Hartnell piece from 1933, a white and gold Indian number, a red 1930s dress, and Dita von Teese’s purple silk-shot taffeta amazingness. The exhibition is now in its final two weeks, so if you have the time and you fancy ogling some beautiful wedding dresses throughout the ages then get yourself over there!
Having indulged in silk and sparkles, we then hopped on a tube to Soho. We found Kettner’s tucked away round the back of the theatres, looking fairly inconspicuous for a hotel. But inside it was another story. Kettner’s looks like a rather glamorous town house, and is decorated in various shades of grey and white. Mum and I had our coats taken and were shown to our seats in a bright little room with a prime view of the street and its unending stream of people hurrying by.
First off, we were delivered glasses of lovely crisp champagne, and we toasted to a wonderful afternoon together. I am my mum’s only child, and we have always been very close. It’s such a treat to see her now I’ve moved nearly 100 miles away and have a brutally uncompromising work rota, especially when I can’t make it back to Suffolk as often as I’d like.
We each selected our teas of choice – English Breakfast for Mum, and Ginger and Lemon for me – and then awaited the arrival of our food. And we weren’t disappointed. A three tiered stand appeared on our table, supporting an array of dainty food on pretty bone china. We started with a selection of sandwiches. We tried Ham and Mustard, Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese, Cucumber, Egg Mayonnaise, and Smoked Chicken, Mango and Mint. All were tasty (I hadn’t expected to enjoy the egg but it was actually pretty nice), but our surprise favourite was the Chicken, Mango and Mint. We had both been dubious but it worked so well!
The scones were light and fluffy, with a slight crunch around the outside, and the cream and jam combination was very sweet. I’ve never been a huge fan of scones or cream tea, but these scones alone sold me on the concept!
Finally we tackled the top layer of petit sweet treats. We had a mini éclair, a little chocolate truffle with a liquer centre, a type of chocolate tart, and two chocolate wafer cones with a crème patisserie-type filling and a jar of sherbert to dip it in. They were all lovely, but I’ll focus on one highlight and one lowlight.The sole disappointment in our arrangement was the passionfruit tart. It was made with a savoury pastry, which instantly put me off – I have a major aversion to sweet and savoury food together, and although the tartness of the passionfruit was balanced to an extent by the cheesiness of the pastry, it was a combination that just didn’t work for me or Mum.
The strawberry tart, however, was a runaway success for us both. Lovely and sweet, yet light and refreshing at the same time. I could have eaten a plate of those alone!
Despite the dainty appearance of our tiers of food, they were surprisingly filling, and we were quite happy to reach the end of the deluge and sit sipping our tea and recovering while watching the other groups of people in the dining room. Mum noted the change in atmosphere from our arrival to our departure. When we sat down the atmosphere was very calm and tranquil, and there were only a few scattered tables of people around indulging in afternoon tea along with us. By the time we left just before six, the room was packed and buzzing with men and women glammed up for a Saturday night on the tiles or at the theatre. It was certainly far more energetic than the calm afternoon!
We eventually took off into the chilly night, taking the opportunity to wander through Chinatown, which was all done up for the New Year’s celebrations. I had a very special afternoon celebrating with my lovely mum. We all need to appreciate our mums, if we’re lucky enough to still have them around us, and I hope she felt rightfully spoilt for an afternoon!