Crumpets… and Coffee…??!
Those who cannot last without their Earl Grey look away now, High Coffee has come to Park Lane and it’s rather moreish
Article by Rupert Watkins
We are a nation of tea lovers and this most British of love affairs perhaps reaches its apotheosis in the luxurious idea of high tea; decadent cakes, delicate sandwiches and lashing of jam on the scones in between. Yet the rise of coffee culture on these shores means there is space for the new. Step forward High Coffee at the Intercontinental Park Lane.
Pairing a range of coffees with the various savoury and sweet courses actually works rather well. The coffee is roasted and blended specifically for the Intercontinental. A salted caramel espresso martini provides the appropriate starting point for this afternoon journey. The espresso picks up on the tastes in the first round of savouries, including chicken, celeriac and sweet pepper remoulade on buttermilk bread and smoked eel, pickled red onion on a beetroot brioche.
The warm savouries are served with a Caffe Freddo, the slight bitterness and pungency of the coffee working well against earthy flavours such as the lamb and rosemary pie and wild mushroom tumble weed. Time has gone into balancing and complementing the more unusual flavour profiles that coffee brings to the “tea” table. Chatting with Eva Inzani from the coffee roasters L’Unico Caffe Musetti who supply to coffee, each coffee type is carefully balanced to bring out the full flavours of the beans.
After a somewhat unusual palette cleansing blood orange and ginger sorbet, we move the sweeter side of our repast. Rich buttermilk scones with jam and cream are placed alongside us as well as a range of decadent cakes including a hazelnut opera and a macaroon with salt caramel (the same salt caramel as used in the earlier martini). With a continuing emphasis on nutty flavours and that slight bitterness you find in dark chocolate, it is not surprising this sweeter round also sits well with well-roasted coffee – you have your choice from among an espresso, cortado or canarino.
The coffee and slight richer, earthier flavours do give High Coffee a slightly more masculine feel, “afternoon tea has always had very feminine connotations” remarks the urbane manager of the Park Lane’s Wellington Lounge. This is certainly true (says the editor with a ridiculously sweet tooth), so it could just be this Antipodean arrival (it was first rolled out in Australia with the Intercontinental group) could be a man winner. Get your coffee and cake on.
Enquires: Wellington Lounge at the Intercontinental Park Lane, 1 Hamilton Place, Park lane, London W1J 7QY / 0207 4093131 / http://parklane.intercontinental.com/en/wellington-lounge-afternoon-tea/