A disappointing wedding anniversary on the 52nd floor.  GONG Bar, Shangri-La

Afternoon Tea, Dining with the Husband

I received a virgin experience days voucher for The View from The Shard and Afternoon Tea at the 5* Luxury Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard for Two in the GONG Bar on the 52nd floor.
I used the voucher to celebrate my wedding anniversary.  

We arrived on the 52nd floor and were shown to our window seat. Great!………. Oh actually not so great…. Window seats are quite close together, as we were about to sit, the table next to us were dominating the air space with their conversation. I discreetly asked for a more private table but my request was denied. We sat and tolerated trying to talk over the next table for about 10 minutes but then my husband got up and asked to move.  

  
We actually got a better seat. Not right next to the window but a sofa against the wall with us both looking out onto the view.  
We were offered champagne but as we had a voucher we asked if there was a supplement we could pay to upgrade to the champagne afternoon tea. This was denied and instead we were offered the wine list. The difference between a champagne afternoon tea and a standard afternoon tea is £8 but the cheapest glass on the drinks menu is £19. We declined the champagne.  
The tea was served with pre packed sugars. I know this might come across a bit snobbish but sugar cubes in packets? I’ve never come across this before in a London afternoon tea. It would look more elegant loose out of the packet.  
We were given an amuse bouche of gazpacho and it was absolutely delicious! Lovely flavour and a lovely spicy heat. I couldn’t wait for the food now. So we waited. 

  
After getting quite fidgety through waiting we were presented our afternoon tea. We had checked the menu before coming and were expecting to be blown away.  

The sandwiches were cold, so I presume they were taken straight from the fridge. The beef sandwich had a thick layer of hard mustard butter which was not very pleasant.   

The rest of the sandwiches were really nice, especially the chicken. The truffle egg mayo was also really good. We did ask for another round of sandwiches but the temperature spoils the overall taste and texture. I really dislike fridge cold bread. Our hearts were beginning to sink. What a disappointment.  
Next we tucked into the scones. There were two fruit and two plain. My ‘fruit’ scone contained 2 pieces of fruit. My husband had no fruit in his. They were ok but lacked fruit.  

  
Before we moved onto the cakes I wanted another pot of tea. So I managed to get a staff members attention and ordered another pot of earl grey. I waited but it didn’t arrive. We were due up at the view so I didn’t bother to chase it up as we didn’t have time.  

We ate the desserts and I stole a cup of hubby’s tea.  

We were given an apple crumble and custard dessert in a shot glass, but had no cutlery. I ate mine with my dirty tea spoon but my husband refused to do that. He would have asked for a spoon but it was so hard to get anyone’s attention. We’re not used to such inattentive service.  

  
The cakes were nice especially the lemon meringue and the lovely little dessert in the shot glass. Which hubby through stubbornness didn’t sample.  

We got up to leave and got our coats. We told the staff member about the tea not arriving and she apologised.  

Whilst we were talking about our disappointment in the lift a different staff member interrupted us as he was concerned about our negative comments. He took my contact details and within a few hours I had an email with an apology and an offer of two complimentary glasses of champagne.  

I know I am a food snob and I am used to eating in Michelin star restaurants and I’m accustomed to incredible customer service. I had gone to The Gong Bar expecting high standards but unfortunately they were not met. I can’t say I would recommend this afternoon tea. The cocktails did look amazing and obviously the views are incredible, even on a rainy day, but in terms of value for money, well, I’ve been to quite a few afternoon teas in London which have cost similar amounts, and the food and service has been far more superior.  

I don’t believe in writing bad reviews but I feel really disappointed with my experience and it was done for my Wedding Anniversary, which wasn’t even acknowledged.  

I have been offered a drink as an apology which does soften the blow I just hope that I’m not disappointed again on my next visit.  

  

A birthday afternoon tea with the family at St Ermin’s 

Afternoon Tea, Dining with the Children

I do love an afternoon tea, last birthday I went with my husband and children to a local hotel and spa for an afternoon tea in Kent and was really not impressed. We daren’t attempt it again so this year I wanted to tea in London. I didn’t want anything too extravagant but I did want something a bit special. Most importantly it had to be child friendly.

So my husband did his research and we agreed on St Ermin’s Hotel. They offered a children’s tea menu, which is an obvious sign they welcome children, and they also had a special offer for the adults.

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We arrived by taxi to my sons excitement, my son is obsessed with all different modes of transport. The doorman welcomed us in, and we sat in the lobby whilst we waited for the tea area to open. Staff and guests were making a fuss of my daughter, especially of her sparkly silver shoes.

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We were shortly shown to our table. The afternoon tea dining area was situated on a balcony which looked over the main reception area. We walked up the beautiful staircase and were shown to our table. It wasn’t very busy, probably because our reservation was for 12, which is very early for most people, but for those with children you’ll know that 12 is lunch time.

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The table settings were really pretty. My daughter thought it was a play set so I had to move all the cutlery away from her so she didn’t start drumming the plates.

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We sipped on our complimentary glass of champagne (an offer though the booking website at the time of booking) The children were offered a choice of fruit juice and we were given a tea menu.

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First to arrive, after our drinks, were the scones. I have had many afternoon teas and have never had the scones first but my children aren’t fussy about what order the food arrives. So we devoured the scones.

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My favourite were the gingerbread, I only got to sample a tiny piece of the triple chocolate, daddy is a fan of anything sea salted so he ate those ones. A perfect family selection of flavours I thought.
FYI I’m a cream first then top with jam kinda girl.

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Next came the exciting part the sandwiches and cakes! We had to tell the children that they were to eat sandwiches first. They were served three flavours of sandwiches chocolate, jam and egg . Which are fun treat flavours for children. Think it would have been nice to have a cheese and/or cucumber too. We, the adults, had turkey and cranberry, (it was still mid Jan so still festive) cucumber and cream cheese, salt beef and horseradish and smoked salmon and caviar. All really nice sandwiches.

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Onto the cakes!! My children couldn’t stuff these in their mouths quick enough! The remains were smeared all over their faces!

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I thoroughly enjoyed the cakes, the peanut butter macaron was divine! I liked that there were two of each as with some teas there are only one of each cake. It was great not having to share.

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The childrens tea was honey bee themed as the hotel produce their own honey, they have a bee hives up on the roof and a bee hotel. We did pop up and have a look after our tea. I think this is a lovely idea and a great feature for children, my son was excited knowing he was going to visit a Bee Hotel. Not that we saw any bees. They were all sleeping.

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After our plates had been cleared I was presented one last treat on a plate with happy birthday written in chocolate, such a lovely touch, the lovely lady who brought it out even sang a solo happy birthday, my husband was fetching the kids who had got fed up and started wandering about. Luckily it wasn’t very busy and they didn’t bother anybody.

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I can not recommend St Ermins enough, it’s a gorgeous hotel in a great location near Westminster, we did actually go to the London Aquarium after as it was only across the bridge.

The service was fantastic and we were made to feel so welcome, it’s always a bit nerve wracking to take the kids out to eat as they’re so young and they do get restless, but they were well behaved and absolutely loved their bee themed tea.
The teas are a bargain price too, almost half of what I’ve sometimes paid. So if you want a special afternoon tea, suitable for children that doesn’t break the bank consider St Ermins Hotel. I will certainly be back with my family.

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Tea Lounge - St Ermin's Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

2014 – My year in restaurants

Afternoon Tea, Brunch, Dining with friends, Dining with Mum, Dining with the Children, Dining with the Husband, Food Festival, Michelin Star Restaurant, Non Michelin Restaurants, One Michelin Star, Pop Up Experience, Three Michelin Star, Two Michelin Star

2014 has been a year of amazing restaurant experiences for my husband and I.  Halfway through the year I decided to start documenting my meals on WordPress to share with fellow foodies and to remind myself of the delicious plates of food that have been sat in front of me.

January
The year started off with my birthday meal at the Midsummer house.  As we approached the restaurant, walking over the bridge, the beautiful fairy lights looked magical.  The food I encountered was also magic.  I loved this restaurant, it was very romantic and felt special, the food was incredible and a perfect destination for celebrating my special day.  I loved the BBQd beetroot.  

February
Birth month for my husband and we dined at the Ledbury for his special day.  The service was amazing we had the tasting menu.  We were actually allowed into the kitchen and got to meet Brett Graham who was very welcoming to us.  

We also got to celebrate Valentines day in style at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester.

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March
I took my Mum for Mother’s Day to The Skylounge at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel – Tower of London.  It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the champagne and cocktails went down a treat!

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Me & my Mummy

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April
We celebrated our wedding anniversary and stayed at Penny Hill Park and we dinned in their 2 Michelin Star The Latymer.  This was an incredible evening away, the hotel upgraded our room, the spa is the best I’ve visited and to have this incredible restaurant located in the hotel made it perfection.

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Gorgeous outdoor pool at Penny Hill Park

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Beautiful roll top bath

May
We ate at the highly anticipated Fera, hubby was desperate to get a table for the opening week but had to settle for the opening fortnight.  I loved this meal.  I loved the excitement in the dining room, I loved the way Simon Rogan presented us one of our courses and I loved that it’s so much like L’Enclume (another of my favourite restaurants).

During May I also experienced the John Lewis Garden Room pop up restaurant, twice

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And attended the ‘too many chefs’ event at the Drapers Arms in aid of action against huger.  10 chefs, 10 different courses.

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I also had a catch up with a dear friend at the two Michelin star restaurant Hibiscus. We ate from the amazing value set menu and had such a lovely time before we knew it we were the last two people in the restaurant.   I loved the ‘Pork Pie’ dish.

June
We attended the best food festival London has to offer, Taste of London.  I have been to most of the London food festivals this year and in my opinion this is head and shoulders above the rest.

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I also had a fab girly night at Shaka Zulu, Camden

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I attended a meet the makers event at Bread Street Kitchen with Gonzales Byass Sherries.

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July
A fantastic Birthday Brunch with my mum at One Aldwych

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We took the kids to The Big Easy

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Had an alfresco lunch at Cha Cha Moon

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I made marvellous macarons at Jenius Social, which was really good fun, and hard work too!

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August
I visited the lovely Tamarind of Mayfair, where I had my first taste of lobster in the form of a masala and I particularly enjoyed the Papdi chaat.  This is a fantastic restaurant the staff are lovely, it’s like being in your local Indian, but they have a prestigious Michelin Star.

This was the month I also faced my fear trying Sashimi at Yashin ocean house and actually enjoyed the experience.

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One of the best and most underrated restaurant I visited this year was Launceston Place.  I was certain this would get a second Michelin star as the food and service we received certainly deserved it!

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September

I dined 100ft high in the sky with L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
London and Alyn Williams at The Westbury.

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I also experienced a kitchen takeover Glynn Purnell at Nathan’s Outlaw’s at The Capital

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October
We visited the sophisticated Alyn Williams at The Westbury, my second experience of Alyn Williams’ food but with my feet firmly on the ground.

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Booked almost a year prior to the visit we eventually visited Tom Kerridge’s famous pub The hand and flowers.  It was great and the food was fantastic particularly the desserts.

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Drakes restaurant Woking was a lovely treat and with no expectations I was very pleasantly surprised.  Great feel to the dining room and fantastic food really liked way the cheese course was presented.

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November
This was a casual month where I dined with friends.
I dined at the The Fish & Chip Shop, Islington and it definitely is the best fish and chips I’ve had.  I loved the quirky decor too.

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Another place I visited was The Remedy wine bar, a fantastic little gem. Real cosy place offering great  charcuterie and cheese boards and quality wine.   My friend and I had a fab evening here. I will definitely be revisiting in 2015 for more catch ups with friends.

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We attended Taste of winter for the first time.  Had loads of fun and I tried food from Kurobuta London and it is a restaurant I look forward to visiting in the new year.

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I also attended a SPIES event at South Place Hotel and had a fantastic magical mystery evening.

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December
For the second year running I enjoyed a festive afternoon tea with my friends at the Conrad Hotel, Westminister.  With free flowing champagne for £45 I think this is an absolute bargain! I’m sure to be back again next December.

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So that’s a round up of my year, what a great year it has been too!  Thank you to my hubby for taking me for all these incredible meals and thank you so much to all the restaurants for the incredible food and service received.

Here’s to 2015!