What better way to while away a Saturday afternoon, than experiencing afternoon tea upon the Thames with a free-flowing stream of bubbles, and one of the most iconic views in the background. Tucked in a prime position, and flanked by studious bookshelves and glimpses of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, it was clear we’d bagged the best table in the house for Afternoon Tea at The Library Lounge. As soon as we were seated, the team swooped in like a beautifully elegant SWAT team, armed with steaming pots of fine leaf tea and delicious morsels.
Kicking things off, the miniature rhubarb, rice pudding and elderflower verrine was a broad departure from the rice pud of our school days. Catching up with a friend in this serenely British setting, we were flanked by a powerhouse team of servers who got the balance exactly right. We were immediately impressed by The Library Lounge ladies, who all conveyed lots of humour and personality, without being intrusive in their service.
Once the tea stand had arrived, we were treated to a selection of finger sandwiches including the cutesy brioche bun filled with Burford Brown egg mayonnaise & cress, which was a delicious creation. My favourite of the stand selection was the Foreman & Son ‘London Cure’ salmon with caper butter, which added a delightful punchiness to the tenderly cured salmon. You can’t go wrong with a cucumber, cream cheese & chive sandwich; the most quintessential king of English sarnies, whilst roasted Angus beef & horseradish provided a classic addition to the stand. Shrophsire cheese, leek and ham quiche also gave a welcome break from tradition on the varied stand.
The cakes and pastries were winning combinations. Vanilla mousseline with shortbread and candied strawberry was a modern version of a traditional combo, while the autumnal apple and blackberry tart brought berry flavours. Whilst sipping on our flutes of bubbly, the apricot and lime marmalade with chocolate and peach crème was a rich decadence, topped with a zesty orb of jelly. Passing the true macaron test of embodying crunchy shell and pillowy soft inner, the lemon macaron and lemon jelly would make any Parisian pâtissier proud. The citrusy tang wonderfully complemented the chewy meringue-style sweet.
The twist on the traditional scone was appreciated to balance out the sweet treats, namely the savoury Montgomery cheddar & Hampshire watercress savoury scones, which went very well with the sweet orange and golden raisin scones. We were shooting the breeze to our hearts’ content and did not notice the scones were no longer hot. However our hawk-eyed perfectionist server whisked them away and replaced them with toasty-warm, fresh scones: a nice touch from a thoughtfully skilled team.
With Big Ben chiming his peals in the background, we were on our way, a little more light-footed than when we arrived. Once a government institution, The County Hall has now metamorphosed into a modern-day hideaway, and having experienced The Ritz and Savoy, icons of afternoon tea in the city, The Library Lounge is surely a newcomer that brings a shining example of how to execute an exceptional London-style afternoon tea. Blending tradition with contemporary flavours, and the most immaculate service, we can certainly appreciate how the accolades have been widely bestowed on The Library Lounge.
Afternoon Tea at The Library Lounge
The London Marriott Hotel, County Hall, London, SE1 7PB