When it comes to high tea in London, it’s an understatement to say you’re inundated with choice. One of the best known, and possibly most Instagrammed, options is Sketch, on Conduit Street in Mayfair. For the last three years, they’ve held a flower show that runs simultaneously with the Chelsea Flower Show. Extravagantly decorated, this year’s theme for the flower show was an ode to the recently married Royal couple – A Royal Floral Tour.
The entrance has flowers dripping from the ceiling, climbing up the walls, and crowding the walk in. There’s a garden bench to sit at and take it all in and to maybe have a photo sneakily taken. Walking down to the Pink Gallery, there’s also a small bridge, and a fountain filled with floating blossoms – I suppose that’s the tour part of a Royal Floral Tour. The Pink Gallery isn’t decorated with florals – a room that overwhelmingly pink could blind your retinas if flowers were added.
The high tea opens with a choice of tea; you’re allowed as many as you want. As someone who isn’t that big on tea – there’s a reason I’m not a British citizen, but only a British resident – I wasn’t overly fussed. I chose a slightly sweeter tea, something pink and fruity. This is followed by caviar, and as someone who doesn’t eat fish or anything that comes from the ocean, I wasn’t particularly a fan of it. But, when in Rome…or rather, when in Sketch? The traditional egg and soldiers is given a fun twist – the egg white is made from comté cheese mornay.
The Main Course
Next, after a slight wait, came the main course of the tea. On a three-tiered stand, there were three finger sandwiches: Salmon & Jacobs cream, Coronation free-range chicken and a croque d’york. The salmon sandwich I gave away, but both the coronation chicken and croque d’york were absolutely divine. The foie gras tartlette was interesting, but not something I’d be interested in consuming more than once. Working your way up the tier, next comes the poppy & redcurrant religieuse, vanilla & strawberry hibiscus gateau and the milk chocolate and earl grey macaroon. I’ve always found myself partial to a macaroon – you can blame the influence of Blair Waldorf for that one – but I surprised myself by preferring the poppy & redcurrant religieuse. There was also a raspberry and rose marshmallow which was a sugary delight. My teeth were there for a good time, not a long time.
The Conceded Defeat
It was at this point that I started feeling like Violet Beauregarde at the end of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… I was going to have to be rolled out of Sketch. For food so delicate, it really is quite filling. But, we were only at the halfway mark at this point. Next up were the scones, which were your fairly typical English scones. Good, but nothing out of this world. There were two options for jam, a strawberry jam and a fig one. Post scone, it was time to give up. The rest – a cardamom & chocolate lollipop, and lemon & elderflower wedding cake (a nod to the royal couple), we taken in a to-go box.
Before leaving, take the royal floral tour all the way to the bathrooms. This year, it had been decorated to look like a tropical jungle, ferns, vines, expansive greenery growing up towards the rainbow ceiling – complete with a bird noises twittering away at you from within the pods (because who needs cubicles when you can have pods?).
At £80 a pop per person, it’s not cheap. You’re essentially paying for the floral installations – but the Royal Floral Tour was such an experience, it’s worth it. This is definitely not something that can be indulged in regularly, but for a special event – I went with my parents, and shouted my mum’s portion for her birthday – it’s a perfect treat. The food was delicious, even when I was eating things I don’t consume in my day-to-day life. There was a string trio in the corner playing both classical music, and modern pop songs. The venue itself is so kitsch; you really won’t experience anything else like it for a very long time. As my mum said: “what went on in the mind of the person who thought of this?”