I met Sarah Barber, Head Pastry Chef at ME London at a recent Valrhona event where her black forest Christmas bûche was a clear favourite. After the event, Sarah was kind enough to invite us to afternoon tea at ME London to try some more of her creations. Given that this Monday marks the start of National Afternoon Tea Week it was an offer we could hardly refuse!
You might not know it from the modest entrance on The Strand, but ME London is a modern and stylish five star hotel with a strong emphasis on design. The Marconi Lounge, located in the main lobby is a vision in black and white, with angular chrome poles making it a somewhat intense place to enjoy afternoon tea.
The hotel’s afternoon teas are themed around the season, with the current theme being “Strawberries & Cream”. However, even before we began, Sarah first treated us to a preview of some of the patisserie that will form autumn’s afternoon tea; a wonderful spiced Sacher cake with star anise and a wonderfully tangy black forest swiss roll with popping candy that evoked memories of the bûche she created with her team for the Valrhona event.
The Main Event
The chocolate cakes were delicious, but after ordering our teas and a glass of Champagne, it was time for the main event; the summer themed Strawberries & Cream tea. As you can see, it was quite spectacular!
Of course there was tea (I had a lovely Earl Grey) and there were sandwiches (the smoked salmon was rather nice) and some rather delicious plain and sultana scones, but we were there for the sweet stuff.
And so to the “cake” course. Clockwise from the top, we have:
Lemon mousse with vanilla yoghurt cream, fresh wild strawberries
A deliciously light and fresh lemon mousse with tiny wild strawberries and strawberry sauce is a pipette.
Strawberries & Cream macaron with strawberry crispies
A light and moist macaron with a strawberry and vanilla ganache made with Valrhona Opayls.
Lemon curd tartlet, wild strawberry mousse, strawberry glaze
Decorated with mini sugar flowers, micro mint and fraise de bois (wild strawberries).
Strawberry Choux bun with vanilla cremeux & Almond crumble
A deliciously soft (and bright red) choux bun with a creamy filling.
Despite the fact that I tend to prefer rich and chocolatey flavours to the sweetness of strawberry, I thoroughly enjoyed this afternoon tea. The sweetness of flavour was balanced perfectly by lightness of texture. The presentation, atmosphere and service were all spot on and it’s just £29 per person, it’s great value too.
Sarah was kind enough to give us a tour of the hotel’s three other restuarants, STK, Cucina Asellina and Radio with its panoramic views of London. Each space is unique and spectacular, and I was struck by the quantity and quality of work that Sarah and her team do. I can’t wait to go back.
ME London Hotel
336-337 The Strand
London WC2R 1HA
Tel: 0207 395 3400
Book through AfternoonTea.co.uk