The wind was biting cold and whipped through my hair, but despite the weathers best intentions, it couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I was delirious with happiness; today would be the moment that I would try my ‘first afternoon tea’ and as a dessert lover I felt like a kid in a candy shop. You see when it comes to me, I’m a simple kind of gal; there are three things that really get me going and that is pugs, cats and food. So naturally when R Chocolate London asked if I would like to break ‘My Afternoon Tea Cherry’ (although they did not use those words LOL) I practically bounced off the walls with delight. And who better to have my first Afternoon Tea with than my partner in crime Giulia, who promised me that it would be an experience that I would never forget. Boy was she right, I might be so single that I can’t remember what a boy looks like anymore but at least food never lets me down. From chocolate infused wine to moreish scones with homemade clotted cream and fresh jam, R Chocolate London took me on a tasting experience that I would never forget.
Located just 12 minutes walk from Victoria station, R Chocolate London took the liberty of setting up camp away from the hustle and bustle of the urban drones that plague the streets and instead called the leafy, quiet community driven area of Belgravia its chosen home. The air was bitter cold but the thought of steaming cups of hot chocolate and chocolate infused wine was enough to have us practically running to the store, with unconstrained excitement. Small and intimate, R Chocolate London reminded me of a Viennese Boutique with its quaint and dainty charm. Wicker baskets were laced with autumn leaves and chocolate hampers gave a whimsical nod to the transition from autumn to winter. It was quiet as we arrived just after lunchtime, but we preferred it to be as tranquil as it was because we had more than just chocolate cakes to discuss… We were welcomed by two friendly members of staff who ushered us to our red booths and talked us through the menu, including asking us whether we would prefer champagne or CiaB – a crémant from Perpignan infused with chocolate. Otherwise known as ‘chocolate wine’, our server explained that R Chocolate London was the first stockist to sell ‘Ciab’ in the UK and we of course were intrigued to say the least.
The Ciab-contrary to what you might expect- had the appearance of prosecco or champagne, although it had slight yellow undertones and was delightfully fragrant to the nose. Created from 100% chardonnay grape, Chocolate In A Bottle is infused with delicate notes of hazelnut and cacao, which was not too dissimilar to hazelnut praline in taste. While infused with chocolate, the cacao balances out the hazelnut to create a surprisingly refreshing beverage that created a crisp contrast to the sweet desserts in our Afternoon tea selection. There was of course an underlying sweetness and the hazelnut notes almost felt creamy in the palette, but there more fruity acidity in the overall flavor that stopped the Ciab from being too sickly. I was hooked from the first sip and vowed to search the web so that I could buy some chocolate wine to get me through the drudgery of long winter nights. While the chocolate in a bottle was a welcome surprise, I was ready to get stuck in and sample the glorious desserts that had been calling my name all my life. Boy was I ready.
At £35 for non alcoholic and £45 with champagne or CIAB, the afternoon tea menu was reasonably priced but would the desserts win me over too? Presented on a charming steel dais, there were three plates filled with glorious cakes that made me feel like I was watching Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. I felt like Charlie who had won his golden ticket and marveled at the detail to presentation, particularly the contrast between bright desserts like the strawberry and champagne mousse in comparison to the rich chocolate mini loaf. We began with traditional and cacao nib scones served with fresh clotted cream and strawberry jam, which to me were the very definition of a quintessential afternoon tea archetype. The scones crumbled delightfully in the mouth with a slight nutty aftertaste which I rather liked, while the thickness of the cream was surprisingly not too heavy on the stomach and complimented the sweetness of the strawberry jam. To accompany our first ‘dessert course’ I chose a salted caramel hot chocolate while G went for a green tea to not detract from the sweetness of our desserts.
The salted caramel hot chocolate was richly comforting and the undertones of sea salt felt pleasant to the taste. Yet I should have asked for a smaller cup of hot chocolate as not being a fan of ‘overly rich’ beverages or desserts after a while it was too sickly for me to consume. However G’s green tea was well stewed and had the right amount of bitterness to compliment the afternoon tea. Impressed by the scones I was even more gratified to find out that as someone who aims to be a more ‘ethical consumer’ that R Chocolate London uses chocolate that is sourced from the award-winning chocolate makers Original Beans, which are the first and only chocolate producer approved by the Sustainable Restaurant Association. In other words their ingredients are sourced from ethical beans and not made with additives or preservatives to truly encapsulate the high quality flavour of the ingredients used. Ethics aside, the cakes as a majority were truly splendid.
While I was obsessed with the strawberry and champagne mousse, layered atop a vivid pistachio biscuit, G enjoyed the mini chocolate loaf which she proclaimed had the right ratio of cacao to texture, meaning that it was not too rich to taste. For me the weakest desserts were the mini chocolate loaf which I found to be a little dry and too rich for my personal preferences while the 80% grand cru mousse with a hazelnut, sea salt and caramel center sounded appetizing but not being a lover of dark chocolate was too bitter for me to finish. But when it comes to R Chocolate’s more fruitier, lighter desserts I was hooked left,right and centre.
In particular their raspberry trifle with genois sponge, raspberry coulis, custard and Chantilly creme, was the ultimate crowd pleaser in my opinion. The tartness of the raspberry juxtaposed with the Chantilly creme was the very definition of a ‘foodgasm’. In fact lets face it, we might have all faked orgasms in our time but this love affair was 100 % real baby. I was still reeling from how -excuse my French- f**king amazing the raspberry trifle was, so the mini lemon drizzle cake and Victoria Sponge had a lot to live up to. Soft and plump, with generous Chantilly and raspberry filling the Victoria sponge was moist while the lemon drizzle cake was slightly dry but washed down with CIAB still created a welcome palette cleanser. To finish we had salted caramel elephants in milk and white chocolate, which were wonderfully salted and melted delightfully in the mouth. We ended up staying far longer than we imagined and while we almost certainly overstayed our welcome, the staff were extremely friendly, polite and was more than welcome to regale us with beautiful stories wrapped in chocolate bows and sparkles. It was magical.
Have You Ever Had Afternoon Tea? If So What Were Your Thoughts?
*Disclaimer please note we were given complimentary afternoon tea in exchange for this post but all opinions are my own and not biased by PR samples or complimentary food.
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