Barge House St
Oxo Tower Wharf,
The Oxo Tower, as a building, takes a bumbling old part of British culture (Oxo) and transforms it into the backbone of something ever so urbane and chic. This is reflected in the most recent addition to the Oxo Brassiere’s menu: an afternoon mini-meal that is Not Afternoon Tea.
For traditional afternoon tea you really need to be somewhere traditional – The Ritz, Fortnum’s, your aunty’s house, Yorkshire – certainly not the spacious interior of the glass-walled Oxo Brasserie. However, Oxo have exploited their own modern, iconic status with this modern twist on an old iconic part of British culture. Oxo realise that while we Londoners like tradition, we also like to delve into new territory. Not Afternoon Tea is just that, adapting a thoroughly British tradition but doing so in new way.
There are 4 choices for Not Afternoon Tea:
- Chocolate Indulgence
- Light and Fruity
- Tea and Coffee
- All Iced Up
Each option consists of four mini desserts, and each sweet quartet is paired with a cocktail. I’m extraordinarily fussy when it comes to chocolate and usually have some complaint to make about chocolate puddings that come my way. The Chocolate Indulgence took my fancy for two reasons however. The first reason was the bitter chocolate hazelnut tart – bitter is better in my book. The second reason was the challenge: 4 chocolate desserts to pass the test.
The tart was indeed a bitter triumph, and despite its richness (and despite the fact that there were 3 even richer looking desserts waiting on my plate to be eaten), I cast better judgement aside and ate the whole thing. The caramel and caraway truffle also passed the test, the caraway complementing the sweet caramel and chocolate beautifully. It was one of those extraordinary combinations that you can only wonder how it might have been conceived, but have to be glad it was! The sweetness made its defeat before the plate was clean, but if you’ve got a unyielding sweet tooth, then all the desserts on the plate taste just as their descriptions suggest they will, and all of them are mini masterpieces.
My fellow diner at this *Not *tea for two, chose the The Tea and Coffee collection, which was also well received. The Earl Grey parfait went down particularly well, and the only thing on the plate that wasn’t a triumph was the Kahlua jelly (although the coffee and walnut cake on either side of the jelly was lovely). Each element of each platter was meticulously constructed with utmost attention to detail. Some of the desserts were taller than they were wide, architectural in appearance, almost as though they had been constructed to complement the unmatchable view of the London skyline that you can see through the Oxo Tower’s glass walls and riverside roof terrace.
While the desserts came in and wowed us with their beauty, the drinks had the personality. The tea cocktail, which they called “Tea for Grownups” (Beefeater 24 Gin and Aperol, sweetened with camomile, honey and peach, topped up with Harvey Nichols Champagne) was light and refreshing and all too drinkable. The chocolate “Indian Summer cocktail” (cinnamon-infused Absolut vodka, sweetened with Mozart Chocolate liqueur and cinnamon sugar, shaken with fresh orange juice) had more of a kick and while the cinnamon and fresh orange did make it Indian Summery, the combination of these ingredients and the chocolate too, made it taste of Christmas.
The Oxo Tower is a unique venue, and Not Afternoon Tea makes drinks in the afternoon a chic affair. At £19.95 it’s a pinch on what a classic afternoon tea at any of the famous London restaurants would cost you, and if you’re looking for something that’s not quite afternoon tea at The Ritz, Not Afternoon Tea at The Oxo Tower is just the ticket.
**Written by:** Emily Boyd