Bond Street is not the best place to find yourself on a grey Saturday afternoon. The traffic crawls along with honks and shouts as cars try to squeeze through junctions, and the pavements aren’t much better as pushy shoppers jostle with aimless tourists. But hidden away in the quiet lanes just off this busy strip is a small courtyard surrounded on all sides by Mews of Mayfair. Billed as a ‘destination for dining, drinking and dancing’ these mews houses hold a range of eateries and bars.
On arrival, we were led across the courtyard and through the cocktail bar to the snug room where we would take afternoon tea, James Bond style. The décor was opulent but managed to avoid being ostentatious thanks to the cosy rooms and rabbit-warren-like structure of the place. Each corner we turned seemed to reveal an intriguing stairway or doorway into another part of the complex.
Once seated the first, and most important, task was tea choice. With a good range of black, green and herbal teas there’s something to suit all tastes. I selected a Darjeeling, which was soft and fragrant and the perfect accompaniment for the treats to come. My dining partner went with whole leaf fresh mint tea, a zingy and refreshing drink for a grey autumn afternoon.
After this the James Bond element of this menu arrived – a vodka martini with a twist of lemon and, of course, shaken, not stirred. The martinis provided quite a kick-start to the afternoon but the citrus of lemon rind gave them a soft edge that made them eminently drinkable. That being said, we decided to start with our hot drinks and finished our martinis at the end. If you think you might want to do the same, I would recommend asking them to bring the cocktail a bit later.
The waiter soon presented us with the main event – 3 tiers of delicious treats. We started at the bottom with a fine selection of finger sandwiches. My dining partner simpered over the Lambton & Jackson smoked salmon on miniature poppy seed bagels, whereas I favoured the egg mayonnaise. It might not sound like a luxury choice for a Mayfair establishment, but the sumptuous Burford Brown eggs and the sun-dried tomato bread made for the finest of finger sandwiches.
With those polished off and still debating which were best, we started on the scones and were soon agreed that these were our winners. Warm, light and fresh, the scones were a cut above. Served with a delectable whole fruit strawberry jam and top quality clotted cream they were perfectly accompanied by my fragrant Darjeeling tea.
At this point, as with any good afternoon tea, we were running out of steam and it’s now we were faced with the alluring and irresistible top tier of French fancies. We sat back and sipped on our martinis while deciding which sweets to plunge into first. Indulgent cream-filled profiteroles, picture-perfect macarons and lemon buttercream cupcakes almost tipped us over the edge … almost.
Not to be beaten, we powered on to the crowning glory of the 3 tiers, the bite-sized trifles. To our surprise we found these were served with plastic spoons and cups, which didn’t seem quite in keeping with the luxurious surroundings. But on the taste front, this miniature dessert was a winner. The sharp fruit compote combined with the cream and chocolate was delicious and the perfect end a blow out afternoon tea.
After finishing our martinis we strolled out to the courtyard. Realising we might have to go back to face Bond Street again we instead headed the other way, through lanes and down quiet roads, preserving ourselves in the peaceful Mayfair bubble and successfully avoiding the Saturday afternoon throngs. In true stealthy Bond style, part of me really wants to keep this hidden part of Mayfair as discreet and undiscovered as it is now.
Mews of Mayfair
10 Lancashire Court, Mayfair, London, W1S 1EY