Afternoon Tea at the Corinthia Hotel

It’s fair to say that over my 30 something years I have eaten many an afternoon tea. I have enjoyed them around London, around the country and even overseas. There is something delightfully enjoyable about tiny sandwiches and cakes.

I remember being a teenager and afternoon tea was a treat, an indulgence. It was a rarity in my early life. Now, they are everywhere. Ranging in quality, price and theme. It seems like every hotel puts on their own variation of afternoon tea, throwing in novelty themes to fill the seats because apparently dainty sandwiches and scones just do not do it anymore. Saying that, gentlemen’s afternoon tea can be quite fun….

I do not want to get all snobby about afternoon tea, but on a recent trip to the Corinthia Hotel to enjoy their offering I was reminded of what a traditional afternoon tea was, the simplicity of it, the elegance. The Corinthia really does ooze elegance not only in its hotel but in its afternoon tea.

This visit was my first afternoon tea since going gluten-free 18 months ago so I was not quite sure what to expect on quality and choice, but I was pleasantly surprised. There was very little from the normal cake selection that we couldn’t have and they even brought us out substitutes.

The Corinthia Hotel afternoon tea, it was agreed by the party, was the most relaxed afternoon tea any of us have ever had. We were presented each section one at a time which I thought was a lovely touch, rather than being faced all at once with a great tower of goods. You could eat your way through each section at your own pace, and even go back for more sandwiches if you wanted ( at great glee to the men in attendance). The gluten-free sandwiches were all on lovely soft and firm white bread – no cotton wool concoction in sight – while the normal tea was on flavoured bread, but fillings all the same. The sandwiches were delicious. Lovely and fresh and flavoursome.

Elegant afternoon tea at the Corinthia Hotel
delicious gluten free finger sandwiches

Next came the scones presented in a box  – very cute. The gluten-free versions were, well, ok. I am yet to find a decent gluten-free scone. They elude me. These were nice, but pretty dense. Fine once covered in jam and clotted cream.

Gluten Free scones …. small but ok!

The real delight came when a lovely waitress wheeled over the cake trolley! yes that’s right, a trolley of beautifully crafted patisserie. She carefully went through what was gluten-free and filled our stand with scrummy items. A short while later her colleague presented us with a couple more gluten free options from the kitchen.

the scrummy tower of gluten free cakes
more cakes….
Chocolate cake and a fruit cheesecake
This chocolate sphere were divine!

Each little cake was full of flavour and beautifully made. It was almost a shame to eat them.

At no point did we ever feel rushed as we sat scoffing our faces while the piano was gracefully played behind us. Staff were friendly and welcoming.

This afternoon tea at the Corinthia hotel could quickly become my favourite.

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A is for Arlo’s

Steak, it’s a simple meal, but one that can be either mediocre or excellent.  London is full of steak places ranging from the mediocre to mouth wateringly excellent and of course the price tags can range just like the quality. When you find a good quality steak at a great price you cannot but shout about it.

On a recent trip to Balham to meet the sister we decided to go to the new steak restaurant that has just opened, Arlo’s. Its bright interior and simple decor  is inviting, its menu even more so. It’s a short menu but with a great selection. They offer the more unusual steak cuts, bavette, picancha and deckle, they are what owner Tom McNeile calls the ‘butchers cuts’. These lesser known cuts offer great flavour but at a cheaper price to the traditional fillet or ribeye.

On sitting you instantly feel at home, the friendly staff are more than happy to recommend something and never do you feel rushed. You could quite happily while a way an evening with your steak and a bottle of red either upstairs at a table or downstairs in a booth.

There are so many streak restaurants in London and the good ones tend to charge for it, which is fine if you are offering good quality meat but sometimes you want a great piece of meat for a great price because sometimes on a Tuesday you want to go out for dinner and not have to worry about  how you are paying for food the rest of the week. Arlo’s does that. It offers a great meal at a very reasonable price. Throughout our evening there the restaurant filled and buzzed. Arlo’s has an opportunity to become a Balham institution as I do not see how any one could dislike a good priced streak in a friendly atmosphere, plus it has those luscious milkshakes.

Arlo’s is definitely a place to try if you are in Balham, or I would even say, make the journey down there. I know I will be returning again…. and again! I have lots of friends to introduce to its bavette!