The Spring/Summer 2022 Prêt-à-Portea collection is ready for unveiling!
The Prêt-à-Portea afternoon tea started in 2005 and the team intended to run the experience for just 6 months, but its’ coveted success has led to its continuation ever since. Afternoon tea is served in the airy and decorous The Collins Room, named after David Collins, who was instrumental in the interior design of The Berkeley.
The Berkeley hotel as it stands today, started out as a humble coffee shop, Gloucester Coffee House, in the 1700s. However, by 1898, it had transformed into the infamous Berkeley hotel where it became known as the place for young suitors to court, under the watchful eye of the hotel’s staff. Fast forward nearly 200 years, guests travel from all over to experience the luxury and elegance of The Berkeley.
The catwalk arrival
Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats. The show is about to begin where we are about to experience delicious designs.
We were seated in the corner of the sun-soaked tea lounge, in perfect view for a spot of people watching (and cake watching!) Our server explained the menu to us in enthusiastic detail, pointing out our different menu options for the day and giving personalised recommendations based on his favourite of the teas.
Ahead of our fashionista feast, we diligently perused our menu and accompanying magazine booklet, aptly named The Front Row.
The Beverage Collection
The 5 tea packages are differentiated by their beverage accompaniment: tea, signature mocktail or Laurent-Perrier champagne: Cuvee, Blanc de Blancs or Rose, Grand Siècle.
The list of teas was extensive, changes seasonally and even recommend tailored pairings with sweet or savoury. There was an option to vary the tea throughout the experience which we took full advantage of, trying a dragon well green, phoenix honey orchid oolong, blackcurrant & hibiscus tisane and chai black tea. Our favourite was the honey orchid oolong tea, a delicate orange and honey infusion, which paired easily with the savoury bites.
Tea is served in elegant, chequered bone China teacups and pots, created specifically for The Berkeley Hotel in lilac, gold, and lemon colours by French porcelain masters, Bernadaud. The signature colours are reflected throughout the interior and menus.
The Savoury collection
Sandwiches arrived sitting perfectly aligned, with savoury treats alongside each other in pairs. There was really such a selection here, each was better than the next!
Home smoked & cured smoked salmon generously layered inside an onion bread bodice, topped with sundried tomato mayonnaise, beef tomato and watercress. This was by far our favourite of the sandwiches, but I also could not get enough of the laminated brioche, crowned with smoked duck breast, gooseberry chutney and figs.
Notably, all dietary requirements are catered for at Prêt-à-Portea and without any compromise to flavour. My partner’s laminated brioche finished with marinated courgette and redcurrant, gooseberry chutney and figs, offered a different and equally delicious delight. The heritage tomato tartare and chilled white asparagus velouté was an Avant Garde palate cleanser, pleasingly subtle and fresh.
The Spring Summer Collection 2022
Sweets are inspired by the catwalk and this season, Head Pastry Chef Mourad Khiat drew inspiration from Oscar de la Renta, Gucci, Schiaparelli, Michael Kors, Lanvin and Saint Laurent with expert artistry.
So often biscuits are left out of afternoon tea, but here they threatened to steal the show standing tall at the top of our cake tower: Lanvin’s retro platform shoe. Reimagined as a light, sweet biscuit appliqued with navy royal icing and delicate flowers.
Oscar de la Renta apricot bavarois on the bottom tier was a crowd pleaser. An abstract design injected with manuka honey and a bold orange meringue collar. This was fruity and truly inspired.
The timeless pink Gucci tuxedo suit was undoubtedly the catwalk queen. An understated Bourbon vanilla mousse, Emmanuel sponge and peach compote. The fun, pink cake was simple and classic with a little flair, just heavenly!
YSL’s floral jumpsuit evolved into the show stopping sharer cake. A huge ruby red rose made of lychee mousse around a raspberry insert, which sits proudly on top of the coconut cake base. This was the most refreshing of all the cakes and provided a fitting decadence to the end of a sensational afternoon.
In a nutshell
The cakes were plentiful and the whole afternoon was extravagant on all levels. We took time on leaving to admire the room, enjoying the collections of fashion-based books and luscious flowers that adorned tables and shelves. With a great deal of care and attention put into this collaboration, you can see exactly why this is such a prominent tea house and the place to go for every fashionista.
Prêt-à-Portea runs from 1pm – 5.30pm every day, priced from £64 per person.
To discover more, visit: the-berkeley.co.uk
All imagery courtesy of The Maybourne Group.
View this post on Instagram