Any restaurant in a Mayfair postcode brings certain promises. Thankfully, the 5* Westbury, the only hotel on Bond Street, meets all expectations with ease. The opulent surroundings feel an entirely appropriate location for a glass of fizz and an exquisitely crafted cake or two.
Upon arrival, we are ushered immediately into the The Polo Bar, where afternoon tea is served. The space itself feels a little corporate, more welcome lobby than cosy; but is chic and private. Any lack of charm in this department is easily made up for by the exceptional service. Despite not being typical Mayfair natives, we quickly felt at ease, and were exceptionally well looked after.
We were here to try The Polo Bar’s newly launched Afternoon Tea. An Asian twist on a British classic, the new offering was dreamed up by Executive Chef, Tim Ross-Watson. The launch is both a nod to Ross-Watson’s time spent as a chef in Singapore, and a celebration of the Chinese New Year: the zodiac Year of the Rat.
We wet the whistle with flutes of reliably excellent Moët. Having been offered both Champagne and tea, we chose bubbles as a precursor, and opted for our hot beverages to arrive alongside the sweets: a decision I will no doubt repeat in the future. Having skipped lunch to ensure maximum room for indulgence, we await the savoury selection (served first, separate from the cake and scones), with eager anticipation.
Afternoon tea isn’t justifiable without finger sandwiches, and we were grateful that the Chef had chosen to spice up, rather than abandon, the traditional staple. The asian inspired flavours were delicious if not overly inventive. The classic tuna mayonnaise was brought to life with perfectly balanced flavours of umami and pickled ginger; a standard sushi combination that I will be introducing into my lunch-time sandwiches with immediate effect. The hoisin duck with crispy shallots was another winner; tender and flavoursome, with perfectly balanced textures. The cream cheese, cucumber and wasabi lacked zing, but was enjoyable all the same.
Despite my bullish insistence on the necessity of sandwiches, these were admittedly overshadowed by the other savouries on offer. Trendy, succulent bao buns were complemented by exquisite quail eggs. A personal highlight, these bite sized delights were truly remarkable; tea stained and crispy, with delectable runny centres.
Onto the sweets, and our champagne flutes were swapped with equally elegant teapots. I confess to initially feeling a pang of disappointment. This was quickly forgotten, though, as I sipped on loose-leaf lychee tea. The tea was refreshing and rich in flavour, yet in no way overbearing. My partner’s choice of coconut tea was equally excellent; delicate, authentic, and the perfect compliment to the mountain of desserts in front of us. We also shared a Rainforest Bubble Tea complete with tapioca balls; a treat i’ve always assumed to be a Gen Z fad, but which proved highly enjoyable if not a little sweet.
Highlights from the desert platter included the Mandarin and Chocolate Cake, which came complete with black tea mousse, mandarin gel, chocolate rice cake and almond sponge. The pineapple tart, cocooned in 20 carat gold leaf, offered a dreamy combination of crumbly butter pastry and tangy fruit. Yet the true treat came in the form of an edible Japanese garden, an inventive aesthetic delight complete with matcha mousse and chocolate bonsai tree.
The Polo Bar’s Champagne Afternoon Tea comes in at £60 per person and includes one glass of Moët & one Chandon Brut N.V. For the alcohol free offering, expect to pay £50pp.