We have featured the Sanderson in our London Great Cake Places guide, but the menu is always evolving so we were invited back to sample it again. Lucky us!
Now, I know that this review should all be about the cake, but what I came away wanting most from the Sanderson’s Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea, was the gorgeous bespoke china. The china is part of the Luna & Curious’ specially-handmade contribution to the collaborative tea. Luna & Curious is a design collective with a beautiful boutique in Shoreditch. The whimsical offerings from this band of geniuses fits perfectly with the Mad Hatter theme of the tea and the china is some of the most unique and creative I’ve come across. One day I might be able to justify having the range in my own house.
From the outside, the Sanderson barely distinguishes itself from an office block or old council building, but step through the doors held open by the handsome butler and it’s all glamour. There are some distinctly creative furniture pieces in the lobby, the bar is stunning and popular with local offices after work and even more attractive is the conservatory space, filled with trees, fountains, colourful comfortable benches and marble tables.
We enjoyed our afternoon tea in a quiet corner of the main restaurant overlooking the bar. The menu arrived hidden inside an old book (we checked the other tables and they had different books) and upon opening the pretty box on the table we were twinkled at by a rotating ballerina floating above the sugar cubes filling her jewellery box. There are four teas created especially for the theme and they appeared immediately within little glass vials for us to smell first to help us make our selection. The rhubarb and custard, based on Rooibos and Vanilla, was delicate and a charming accompaniment.
Never have I seen quite such a fascinating tower of afternoon tea offerings. Sandwiches were spirals of different flavoured breads filled with the traditional fillings, so much more interesting and flavoursome than regular sandwiches and accompanied by the even more delicious mini quiches and herbed scones, still warm and offered with a divine herb butter as well. At the top of the tower were the toadstools, actually strawberries and cream marshmallows, sat alongside a mini plant pot of pea shoots hiding carrot meringues (nicer tasting than they might sound!).
My favourite sweet item from the tea came inside a minature bottle tied with a hand-drawn tag, inviting “drink me”. This was a creation of several layers including passionfruit and coconut foam. I didn’t shrink, but it did make the world feel like a better place. The main event of cakes included a chocolate tea cup filled with a moreish white chocolate and matcha mousse, a teardrop of mango cheesecake bound by a rainbow coloured white chocolate wall (we were helpfully instructed to use a spoon to stir inside the shell to mix with mango coulis with the cheesecake) and a Tick Tock clock face atop a mini Victoria
As if this wasn’t all enough, a trolley of fruit jelly is available to take your fill. Beautifully coloured semi-translucent shapes created from Victorian jelly moulds wobble gently and enticingly to try them all.
One of the greatest features of this afternoon tea is it’s offered into the evening so it works as an early dinner as well.
The Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea is £35 per person or £45 per person with a glass of champagne.