Okay, so I admit I am a convert when it comes to this afternoon tea thing. I really get why people enjoy this oh so relaxed afternoon pleasure. It means you can skip lunch and dinner, so I kind of persuade myself that it’s sort of healthy. For me it’s the finger sandwiches, scones and a glass of bubbly, for others it’s those naughty but nice cakes and assortment of herbal teas from around the world.
Tucked away in The Marylebone hotel’s Edwardian townhouse, 108 Pantry offers diners a cosy and bright ambience along with breakfast to get the day off to a good start, a light lunch or a rather indulgent afternoon tea, which is our reason for popping in on this occasion.
This was in fact my third visit, the other two were for two rather special afternoon teas. The first was a fun ‘Men’s Afternoon Tea’ where I experienced a whole new look to afternoon tea, geared to us guys and not a glass of bubbly in sight but rather a wholesome pint of Guinness and a hearty grilled rib eye steak sandwich with caramelised onion and Shropshire Blue cheese.
The second was a ‘007 Afternoon Tea’ back in 2015 to celebrate the release of Spectre. The pastries and sweets are where the chefs really let loose with their creativity: two mini martini glasses filled with thick chocolate mousse, raspberries and wedges of honeycomb sat amongst chocolate and matcha tea poker chips and ginger brandy snap cigars that were filled with a piquant passionfruit cream that’s as tangy as it was sweet. And it wouldn’t be the full Bond experience without a Vesper martini, shaken not stirred, naturally!
But enough of 007 and on to what we were here to experience – 108 Pantry’s Classic and Gluten Free Afternoon Teas.
It is not often that you find restaurants offer a full gluten-free menu, they tend to just have a few gluten-free dishes, limiting one’s choice, so I am always delighted when I do come across a proper menu that offers a choice. So with this in mind, we opted for the standard Classis Tea and the Gluten Free Tea so we could compare them.
Our teas arrive beautifully presented. The savouries on the Classic include a black truffle sausage roll, seasonal quiche along with a Heritage Copper Marans egg mayonnaise and cress sandwich and a Smoked Salmon rillette with horseradish on their delicious fresh Signature Guinness brown bread.
The Gluten Free savouries are similar but are made up of the same Heritage Copper Marans egg mayonnaise and cress sandwich on gluten-free bread and Smoked Salmon rillette with horseradish again on gluten-free bread. You also get a baked ham with wholegrain mustard sandwich and a cream cheese with chive and cucumber sandwich.
The Classic Tea has a selection of freshly baked homemade buttermilk scones served with Devonshire clotted cream and jam, whilst the Gluten Free Tea includes homemade gluten-free buttermilk scones.
Those of you with a sweet tooth will love what the sweet plates offers. Both teas include a Passion Fruit and white chocolate cheesecake, but that’s where the similarity ends, as the Classic has a fresh fruit tart, peanut butter brownie topped with caramel popcorn and a praline dulche de leche mousse. The Gluten Free tempts you with a rather tasty almond fruit cake, chocolate fig financier and a lime and polenta cake.
Personally, I am not a tea drinker, but for those of you who are, 108 Pantry offers a nice selection of teas from around the world, such as a classic English Breakfast, Earl Grey and 2nd Flush Muscatel Darjeeling as well as two green teas and a couple of white teas including a Jasmine Silver Tip and China White Leaf. You can also choose from a selection of herbal infusions which are all caffeine free supplied by the Rare Tea Company.
In my books an afternoon tea is not complete without a glass or two of bubbly and so I was pleased to see a comprehensive selection ranging from a Vaporetto Prosecco NY from Veneto starting at £8 a glass, an excellent Nyetimber Classic Cuvée NV from Sussex, which is what I had, a couple of NV Perrier-Jouët’s and a Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV Champagne.
The Classic and Gluten Free 108 Pantry Afternoon Teas costs £32 per person or £42 per person with a glass of Champagne and is served from midday to 6:00pm each day.
108 Pantry, 108 Marylebone Lane, London, W1U 2QE
Tel: +44(0)20 7969 3900
The closest Tube Station is Bond Street on the Central and Jubilee lines which is just over five-minutes by foot or Baker Street on the Bakerloo, Jubilee, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, and is about a ten-minute walk.
Insider Tip: Don’t leave without taking a look at their other wonderful homemade cakes they have on display and pick out a few to take home with you in a box!
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10
Simon Burrell is Editor-in-Chief of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs by Simon Burrell