Can there be a more classically British way to spend an afternoon than with a traditional afternoon tea? Afternoon tea in London is still booming and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. A good few places now cater to those with dietary requirements and of course the seemingly ever rising number of vegetarian and vegans, but I must say this is one with a difference.
When I heard that La Suite West in Bayswater and their restaurant Café Forty One had relaunched a new fully vegan concept with something as rare as a French pâtisserie chef heading it all up, I couldn’t wait to visit.
The addition of head chef Clarisse Flon makes La Suite West and Café Forty One the very first in the capital to serve vegan French pâtisserie. The fact that they also aim for an ecological and sustainable approach in everything they do is just the icing on the (very delicious) cake.
Looking to cater to both vegans and non-vegans as well as those with allergies, Clarisse says about her style of cooking; “I realised no one was doing French pâtisserie and if I craved something delicate and more sophisticated surely other people did as well”
On arriving at the restaurant we were offered a glass of alcohol-free bubbles – a tasty way to start our afternoon, accompanied by our choice of luxury loose leaf tea.
In traditional British afternoon tea style, we were then presented with a beautiful 3-tier stand of sweet and savoury delights. Had I not known, I wouldn’t have guessed all this deliciousness was fully vegan – I don’t imagine anyone would feel this selection lacking in either taste or looks!
True to tradition, the selection consisted of a mix of savoury and sweet. We decided to dig in to the savouries to start off our tea.
My meat-eating partner was particularly impressed with the smoked carrot “salmon” and cream cheese in a brioche roll. The carrot was smoky and creamy – very much reminiscent of its fishy counterpart. My favourite was probably the “BLT” sourdough sandwich made with vegan mayo and aubergine “bacon”.
Of course no tea is complete without some classic scones with cream, and these were another highlight. The scones came in a plain and a raisin variety, served with a lovely home made berry compote and clotted cream made from coconut.
The pâtisserie is made fresh and changes weekly, we had a chocolate cake with chocolate and vanilla crème pâtissière, a flaky and buttery apple and vanilla swirl, mini short bread with blackberries and a lovely moist carrot cake, all equally delicious.
The restaurant at La Suite West has seen a few different incarnations over the years but here I feel they have really hit home. The small restaurant space has had a recent refurb and feels light and airy, which is only enhanced further by the space leading out onto their leafy canopied patio – perfect for warmer times of the year.
Plant eaters will also be pleased to hear that in addition to patisserie, the restaurant also serves fully vegan breakfast and lunch and La Suite West aims to become the first fully vegan hotel in London.
Over all this is a lovely afternoon tea – a great treat for those with a dairy or gluten allergy, or anyone looking for some really delicious pâtisserie, vegan or not!
Café Forty One at La Suite West
La Suite West, 41-51 Inverness Terrace, London, W2 3JN