The late Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld was said to have been compelled to change his lifestyle because of a desire to wear suits made by Dior designer Hedi Slimane. Such is the reach and power of the Dior label that the exhibit at the Victoria & Albert museum is booked for its entire run. Luckily, at the nearby Franklin hotel, you can taste or amplify your experience with their specially designed afternoon tea that draws inspiration from the great house of Dior.
In the modern décor of the franklin hotel, the setting for the afternoon tea is adorned with pink and white decorations, flowers scattered across the tables to reflect the delicacy and inspiration of Christian Dior. We were compelled to try the recommended cocktail, The Mitzvah. Vodka, Triple Sec, crème de violette, lemon juice, egg white, sugar syrup and blackberries combined to deliver a visually stunning cocktail, with a subtle lemon hit followed by a delicate aftertaste of violet.
The afternoon tea comprised a 2-stage dining experience. To begin, a savoury yet luxurious journey of flavours that connect to the identity of Christian Dior. The first stop, the “Jambon-Beurre”, a classic French ham and cheese sandwich. “The Granville” flan is a savoury flan that is strong in mushroom flavour, a foamy mouth feel, and a mild base that doesn’t detract from the filling.
My personal highlight was “The Train to Montecatini” – a reference to a rumour of Mr. Dior’s last meal – this is a choux pastry filled with foie gras and strawberry jam, that absolutely captures the delicacy and luxe of Dior – a rich, buttery, creamy foie gras that makes you feel devilish for consuming something so luxurious. The pastry was crisp and the jam complements the piece perfectly.
The “éclair cousu-main” was a cheese and truffle eclair that was a creamy affair with a hint of truffle to accentuate the robust cheese flavour. The final piece in this selection was the “The legacy of a Dreamer” – a reminder that Christian Dior offered a pairing of the unusual with the traditional. There was an egg, avocado & tomato sandwich which was delightful, and a smoked salmon sandwich with courgette and soy sauce. The courgette gives a nice crunch to the sandwich and the soy sauce elevates the smokiness of the salmon to new heights.
The second stage of the experience was a sweeter deal, with a selection of elegant and delicious desserts. “The J’adore” – a peanut sponge with a sprayable shot of Calvados was surprisingly light and creamy, with the peanuts bringing an exciting crunch to the ensemble.
“The Pink House” – A lemon pink macaron that invokes imagery of Dior’s childhood home in Normandy, was presented on a mini chair, and offered a beautiful, crisp shell that playfully gave way to a citrus punchiness that was a delightful delicacy.
The “Victoire” was a butter and nuts praline named after 2 important Victoire’s in Dior’s life. This was a decadent, rich treat, that made you feel like a winner when eating it. “The New Look” was a citrus & banana aspic which delivered an intensity with the citrus that stays with you throughout the portion. The banana is a welcome counter balance to this and provides a creamy mouth feel that completes a refreshing piece. “Le Montaigne” is a Normandy cream, white and milk chocolate cake that I must say was a real highlight. It’s so beautifully formed you’re able to distinguish the individual flavours of each element but also appreciate them come together in the same bite!
Finally, we were presented with “Backstage” – a selection of raspberry petits fours. A version with dark chocolate which combined the bitterness of the chocolate with the tartness of the raspberry nicely, the other version in my opinion offered a fresher and fleeting taste, which was welcome and ended the whole experience on a light and beautiful note.
Overall, the experience was wonderful. A lovely compliment to a day of immersing yourself in Christian Dior history, or as a separate excursion for a luxurious, well crafted afternoon tea experience, The Franklin delivers and builds upon a dream that was forged in a pastel-hued house in beautiful Normandy.
The Franklin Restaurant by Alfredo Russo
22-28 Egerton Gardens, Chelsea, SW3 2DB