Alice in Wonderland turns 150 this year and what better way to celebrate than with a themed afternoon tea at The Sanderson.
This post is quite belated as my friend Kate and I visited in August when she came to London for a weekend but with Christmas coming up an afternoon tea trip will be high on the Christmas list for a lot of people.
I’m a big fan of afternoon tea and sent Kate a huge list to choose from and having been to The Sanderson for the Mad Hatter’s afternoon tea twice before, I was secretly pleased that she’d chosen one of my standout favourites.
Before we get into more detail and pictures about the tea I wanted to highlight a few things up front. Firstly, I booked using an offer: afternoon tea and a cocktail for £40 each which we then upgraded with a glass of champagne when we arrived. I would definitely recommend going for the £40 option as the tea on its own is £48.
As I’ve mentioned, this was my third visit (my first on a weekday) and it was the first time I left somewhat disappointed in both the food and the service. The service at The Sanderson is usually absolutely superb; the staff are attentive without being intrusive, friendly and always happy to help so I don’t want to dwell too much on the service we received but it was poor – we had to chase everything in order for it to actually arrive, we waited for a considerable amount of time for our tea, I’d twice requested an option with no fish/seafood (once at booking and once when we sat down) yet still had to send my food back as salmon and crab arrived. All in all, it wasn’t a great experience but it’s so far removed from the service I know The Sanderson deliver that I won’t let it put me off and would advise you to still visit.
Finally, the food. Oh the food. First let’s talk about the positives: they have a new menu from the last time I visited but it’s still very innovative and the concept is excellent. I asked to have mine without the salmon and crab options so I was given two vegetarian alternatives which I thoroughly disliked but Kate finished for me and fully enjoyed so for me, the savouries were a let down but the cakes and the scones were superb as ever.
My favourite was as ever the Drink Me potion but that was closely followed by the White Rabbit pocket watch macaron, the Blue Caterpillar truffle and the Queen of Hearts oreo cookie solider.
When we arrived we were fortunate enough to get a seat in the courtyard. It was a beautiful sunny day and it was so lovely to sit outside among the plants and water feature.
After explaining that we’d booked a deal that included a cocktail we were each brought a glass of The Sanderson: a combination of Beefeater gin, Aperol, lychee juice, melon liqueur and lime. It was absolutely superb and went down far too easily which lead to us ordering a glass of champagne…
When our champagne arrived it was worth the wait – a perfectly chilled glass of Perrier-Jouet brut – and we very nearly ordered seconds. If it hadn’t been 2pm on a Monday afternoon I think we may well have!
The presentation of the menu is one of my favourite touches as it’s hidden between the pages of a vintage or classic book.
We spent several minutes deciding what teas to have, smelling each in turn before coming back to them time and time again before making a final decision but in honesty, we could have happily tried them all.
I decided to go for the Mad Hatter which is a green tea infused with passion fruit, guava and mango and yes it’s a fruity and refreshing as it sounds. I was tempted by the Cheshire Cat but with the warmth of summer I felt it would be too heavy but it would be perfect for winter. Kate went for White Rabbit.
I love loose leaf tea and I think when I decide to become a proper grown up I’m going to invest in everything you need to make proper tea!
Another one of my favourite touches is the sugar being served in an old school jewellery box. Our ballerina decided to stop spinning (sh’d been over-wound) but it’s still incredibly cute.
My favourite was the cucumber and cream cheese on lime bread even though it looks slightly radioactive(!) and I picked at the rest.
Kate’s scotch egg of salmon, quails egg and caviar looked particularly good.
I think is a contender for the most unpleasant thing I’ve ever tried, the avocado mousse tasted like a very bizarre ice-cream and I passed it straight to Kate for a second opinion!
The Drink Me potion is still my favourite thing. If I could recreate this at home I’d live on it. It’s a passion fruit puree and it is wonderful.
We finished up with these little plant pots; we’d seen the waiters bring them out for the other tables and we’d already asked for our bill so feared we were missing out but they turned up with the bill and I’m so glad they did because the honeycomb was beautiful.
Whilst the service may not have been up to its usual standard I still thoroughly recommend the Mad Hatter’s Tea – it’s such a great concept and for the most part, incredibly well executed. If you do want to go then I’d advise booking the offer I mentioned at the start of the post, especially if there’s more than two of you.