I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have fond memories of reading Roald Dahl’s classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so when I found out that London hotel, One Aldwych were putting on a scrumdiddlyumptious afternoon tea to celebrate the opening of the musical on the West End I just had to try it out.
I am a huge fan of themed afternoon teas when they are done well, which generally means that the hotel or restaurant has to take the concept to the max and pair it with great food, One Aldwych’s head chef Dominic Teague has done just that and created a memorable experience that tastes incredible.
When I sat down to afternoon tea in the throne-like chairs, surrounded by magnificent artwork and Wimbledon-inspired floral displays, I wasn’t sure what to expect, I had only ever previous enjoyed cocktails during London Fashion Week, but I knew as soon as I saw the wonderfully illustrated menus that it was going to be fun.
Each menu is dedicated to a different family from Charlie and his granddad Joe to the Salt family with the spoilt brat Veruca, who actually looks adorable dressed like a ballerina on the menu. It is touches like this that is seen throughout the afternoon tea, which really has taken the concept of capturing the imagination and ran with it.
The adventure started with Cocktail Charlie, which came out smoking dry ice and bubbling away in a carafe looking something more like an experiment than a drink. The cocktail itself was strong, which is hardly surprising considering it contains a mix of Dalmore Whisky, Cherry Marnier, chocolate bitters and Champagne. I am not much of a whiskey drinker but even I couldn’t help get excited about this drink.
Next up was the savoury platter, featuring the most delicious selection of vegetarian treats from a yummy tomato tart to mini leak and Stilton quiches, and a great choice of sandwiches including the traditional cucumber and chive crème fraiche on wholemeal bread, cheese paired with the most incredible chutney, and egg mayonnaise.
Normally the savoury plate is my least favourite, I am all about the desserts, but this was more than substantial and each piece was prepared perfectly and tasted amazing, I was actually a little stuffed before the Willy Wonka-style sweet treats came out.
The real Charlie and the Chocolate Factory magic really shines through in the sweets, from pear drop and rhubarb and custard flavoured candy floss to blueberry brioche, vanilla cheesecake and mango filled golden egg, and one of my favourite desserts Eton Mess, which was all nicely washed down with chocolate caramel milk slurped out of a retro style bottle.
Everything from start to finish really was perfection on the taste buds and thought out. It wasn’t too sweet and sickly, even with all the chocolate and candy floss, it still had elements of the traditional tea with the magnificent scones, which were rounded off perfectly with the apple and meadowsweet compote, and the commitment to the theme makes this one of the most original afternoon teas I have enjoyed.
If like me, one of your favourite childhood books was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory then you will love seeing it brought to life in this themed afternoon tea, and I am sure it is especially wonderful to get you in the mood if you are off to see the musical show.
The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-inspired Afternoon Tea runs until December 31 in One Aldwych’s Lobby Bar, priced £29.50 per person or £38 with a Charlie cocktail or a glass of Lallier Grand Réserve Champagne.One Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BZ