I’m a sucker for afternoon tea.
Have been since I was a child.
Some of my earliest memories encompass my Dad and stepmother taking me for this treat whenever we used to holiday in various areas of Britain. I’ve had afternoon tea (or, at the very least, cream tea) in areas such as the Isle of Wight, Stratford-upon-Avon, Jersey, Bournemouth, Cornwall, and various towns along the English coast.
In fact, afternoon tea is one of my largest reasons for starting this blog, as it gave me an excuse to chow down regularly on good sandwiches and cake, and perhaps have a tipple or two!
As a vegetarian for four years who eats a largely vegan diet (slowly trying to make the full-time transition!), I thought, ‘Frances. What better way to introduce your first review of an afternoon tea by attending one which is dedicated to veganism?’
And so, here we are.
Despite the light drizzle marring the afternoon, La Suite West is an understated yet modern hotel nestled in the frankly gorgeous area of Bayswater.
Given a glass of sweet, highly-addictive non-alcoholic fizz, my two university friends and I were left to gaze over the menu in order to choose our teas. A limitless, common selection that included English Breakfast, Darjeeling and Chamomile Flowers, I opted for the colourful Hibiscus tea which was light and perfect with a sugar cube.
For the season, La Suite West were also had a special Christmas blend which, according to L, was strong and warming.
However, one area in which they score additional points is that, unlike other restaurants, La Suite West also offered a selection of unlimited coffees alongside the teas – all included in the price! I therefore enjoyed a mocha with almond milk, although soya and rice milk are also available for those with allergies.
Sandwiches and Canapés:
Out of the three sandwiches and two canapés on offer, I can say that I enjoyed three immensely and found two mediocre. The cashew nut and spinach on filo pastry was to DIE for – such an amazing taste of cheese! – as was the scrambled tofu with mustard mess sandwich. Additionally, the cherry tomatoes filled with sunflower seed pesto, quinoa and kale succeeded in something I have never done before – eat kale. That’s how good those babies were.
Regretfully however, vegan food does have a bad reputation for being flavourless, and whilst this is an accusation I will deny until the day I pass, the final sandwiches of mushroom with black olive pâté and hummus with cucumber did remind me of this rep. Indeed, my friends and I all agreed that just a tad more salt and seasoning was needed.
Scones and Mince Pies:
Oh man, these make me smile just remembering them! The warmth and cinnamon, my goodness, I feel to go back and eat them again today! Without a doubt, this course was my favourite. Served with fresh strawberries and heaps of coconut cream, we were each given two spiced scones and two mince pies. Small in size yet remarkably filling, I could easily have eaten at least three more. (La Suite West, if you’re reading, could I by any chance get your scone recipe? Or, you know, if you’re feeling generous, sending them to me monthly in the post is even better!)Desserts:
A few months ago, I remember everyone’s obsession with eating raw foods. ‘Hey girl, let’s go to X, they serve raw cakes!’ or ‘Eating raw is like, beneficial to your health, you know, put down that cooked spinach and stuff some raw leaves in the blender!’ or ‘It just feels so much better, eating raw. I’m gaining all of the nutrients lost in cooking,’ and so on and so forth. I have to say though, raw eating was never my thing, and even after experiencing the raw desserts at La Suite West, it still isn’t my thing.Although I enjoyed the raw Christmas cake with coconut icing and red berries (I was LOVING the icing), I found the raw carrot cake with mulled wine topping not to my taste. Perhaps, because of my massive predilection for sweetness, it tasted too healthy for a dessert? The un-raw gingerbread loaf however, was good, if a tiny bit dense, and I finished my serving of that quite easily. A warning though: La Suite West love their raisins, and if you’re not a fan of them, be prepared to be picking out the pieces for most of this course!
On the whole, I did enjoy it, and I would consider coming back here again once they’ve changed their menu in order to see what concoctions they’ll cook (or not cook ;)) up. It was great being able to eat everything without having to request in advance that, ‘yes, I’m a vegetarian. Could I please have more cucumber sandwiches and less coronation chicken?’ and I found the unlimited teas and coffees a great idea. Even my meat-eating friends enjoyed it, although I could sense that just maybe they missed the coronation chicken!
La Suite West’s Vegan Winter Afternoon Tea is £29pp and is available here.