I must admit to having been a little dismissive of people who were gluten intolerant in the past. I thought they were just particularly fussy eaters. Yes, I was Jay Rayner style, intolerant of food intolerances. But then when my two potato and bread loving Irish aunts developed gluten intolerance as well I started to take food intolerances more seriously. The statistics that are bandied about now are that 15 percent of the British population has some form of gluten intolerance. In a sign of how widespread this issue must be, that bastion of tradition, Claridges, has launched a gluten free version of their famous afternoon tea.
The full tier
The afternoon tea (£35) is available on request at Claridges and is likely to be welcomed with open arms by the gluten free brigade and my Irish aunties. You get the whole she-bang of a tiered cake stand tottering with goodies. First and foremost there are the sandwiches made with Genius gluten free bread. I am told that just to eat bread is a real treat if you are gluten free regardless of what it actually tastes like but this bread was actually quite light and nicely textured. The sandwich flavours included smoked salmon with horseradish and dill, ham, egg and cress, chicken with lemon remoulade and of course the queen of the afternoon tea sandwich, cucumber.
The main room for afternoon tea
Next up, were gluten free scones. Sadly the scones were not as successful as the bread and while you may have enjoyed them if you had not eaten real scones for a few years, if you had the memory of floury, springy scones was hard to banish when confronted with these hard little gluten free nuggets. Luckily there was lots of Devonshire clotted cream and thick strawberry jam to make the scones more palatable.
Gluten free scones
I was probably most impressed with the pastries which were all gluten free. There was a creamy fruit tartlet complete with pastry case and a towering raspberry and rosewater macaron which was almost too delectable to eat. Not quite Pierre Hermé standard but certainly close.
I’m not sure if the service I received was the full Claridges afternoon tea experience as I was at the launch of the afternoon tea. In any event I was disappointed not to have the extensive tea menu offered at The Lanesborough or even any choice of tea. For an afternoon tea, the decision as to what to drink should be more complicated than simply, “tea or coffee?” That said, I was impressed by the way sandwiches, scones and pastries were all topped up without needing to be requested.
The pastry tier
Once the last macaroon had been eaten and I wandered out of Claridges I wondered whether I would feel as light as a feather given that my indulgence had been entirely gluten free. Sadly the answer was no, gluten free or not if you are going to eat four scones in a row you are going to feel bloated.
Details: Brook Street, Mayfair W1K 4HR (Ph 020 7629 8860) Tube: Bond Street
Damage: Budget breaking.
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my review of afternoon tea at The Lanesborough or try the very cool afternoon tea at Sketch.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of Genius gluten free bread.
Category: Restaurants - Tea House, W1