Fresh from his Michelin-starred success stateside, Jean-Georges Vongerichten has set up new digs in Mayfair. Bringing the ultimate in NYC sophistication to a well-heeled corner of London, Jean-Georges at The Connaught basks in understated glamour at this new London outpost. We were intrigued to find out if the eponymous new opening showed all the flair of its namesake chef in the afternoon tea offering.
What is about the snacks to begin… They are, quite often, the stars of the show in my view. On this occasion, the black truffled brioche was a marriage made in Franco-Italian heaven, and I wasn’t complaining.
Coronation chicken with spiced mayonnaise and fresh coriander added some pep to the British classic amongst the finger sandwich selection. Ham and aged cheese, with mustard, honey and walnuts also made for a sophisticated take on the classic. Fluffy-light sandwiches filled with egg and watercress, or cucumber with Greek yoghurt with zingy lime and mint topped our rankings for lightness and flavour combinations. Meanwhile traditionally sourced H Foreman’s smoked salmon mingled conventional ingredients with exotic spices in the chipotle marinade. The coriander, chipotle and spring onion really complemented one another.
Crowning the stand was the chocolate fondue with fresh pear William dippers; a charming break from the norm with a marvellously gooey chocolate ganache. Pretty as a picture, the bijou patisserie selection spanned flavours and continents. The pear tart with caramel was no doubt a nod to the chef’s French heritage, while the fresh fig and mousse combined in an almond cake with a perfectly pristine outer violet casing. The very distinctive floral notes of orange blossom came through in the creamy bavarois, balanced by bitter lemon and vanilla. Our favourite of the sweet selection, the delightful matcha eclair studded with fresh raspberries tasted as good as it looked. Raspberry jam innards and beautifully piped matcha whipped cream created a stunning combination.
The rocher had a crowd-pleasing familiarity, with milk chocolate and hazelnut praline richness and The Connaught moniker emblazoned as a sterling stamp of approval.
A foray into zesty citrus flavours, and breaking with tradition, we highly approved of lemon curd with the freshly baked scones. For sticklers to traditional scone convention, there was soft homemade strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream to go with the plain and raisin scones. The plain option was a little salty but we weren’t sure if this was a trendy new hipster take on scones, or a slip of the hand by the pastry chef! The raisin scones were more than palatable with plump, juicy raisins and a lighter-than-light texture.
For me, the Earl Grey tea with bergamot and French blue flowers was the perfect tea to partner the freshly baked goodies on the stand. My guest chose hand-crafted Jasmine pearls tea, which had a delicate perfumed flavour, and the traditional afternoon tea can also be taken with or without an accompanying glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut champagne. All in all, we were impressed by this contemporary take on a renowned British culinary teatime tradition, from the innovative and iconic stateside chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Jean-Georges at The Connaught
The Connaught, Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1K 2AL