We go for drinks on any given evening of the week to watch London flit past by night, we go for afternoon brunches to indulge in weekend Bloody Marys and delicious Croque Monsieurs – its safe to say that whatever we’re in the mood for – we will usually find a way to spend our time at London ME Hotel’s Radio Rooftop Bar.
So with our radio-addiction in mind, we were so excited to learn that just as August is perking up with some long overdue twenty-something degree sunny afternoons, Radio has launched: The Skyline Afternoon Tea. Radio always has a way of transporting you from the madness of the city below, and into another world. The Afternoon Tea world on this occasion was one of relaxation, oozing calmness and class as you take a seat in the bespoke area laid out with large white tables laid out with Jasper Conran china. The terrace is setup perfectly to compliment the iconic sights by day, and as the sun beat down on us on the Friday afternoon we knew we had picked our visit perfectly. London is ridden with rooftop pop ups and bottomless brunches at the moment – Radio sets itself apart by giving those who are in the know a refined setting with a New York feel. Faced with an afternoon out of the office, with a variety of savoury and sweet treats matched with selections of the best bubbly and delicious cocktails, neighbouring tables of cute couples, girlfriends and ladies who lunch, I felt all the nostalgia of a Sex and The City episode packed into the space around me.
The menu includes a tiered selection of everything you’d expect from a hearty Afternoon Tea, but with an additional twist to the classics: an amuse bouche to begin sits at the top of the stack as a king prawn on a bed of a thousand island sauce and leaves of watercress; the Beef and Horseradish finger sandwiches come with layers of prime grilled beef on a crisp bun; a toasted brioche croque monsieur with melted cheese comes wrapped in a parcel to keep the melting cheese oozing and warm; a layer of cooling bites beneath the finger sandwiches are creatively presented as slices of cucumber sandwiching a rich cream cheese spread between them, as well as slices of compressed watermelon sandwiching feta and black olive tapenade – which we couldn’t get enough of – and as soon as I learn how to ‘compress’ watermelon, I will be replicating in the kitchen.
If the selection of these scrumptious bites, along with egg mayo with quail egg and hot smoked salmon, cream cheese and chive sandwiches, don’t have you feeling fully satisfied and bursting at the seams, then you are one of the brave ones with room for more. I say this because when the plates of scones, clotted cream, gooseberry and strawberry jam followed – I thought this was dessert time. I was wrong. This was the middle-course that meant the menu stays true to Afternoon Tea, whilst proceeding to show off with what they really call dessert. I of course did not discover this until I’d swallowed my last bite of expertly-cream-coated scone, and gulped, as the waiter asked us how long we’d like to wait before dessert. “A week?” I bleated through a mouthful of scone.
Luckily you have prime infusions of herbal tea from berry and flower to lemongrass and ginger and every variety of Earl Grey I have ever seen, to soothe your flurried digestion as it works in overtime to make room for the delicious mini pastries and cakes which ensue: luxurious bites such as a hazelnut opera cake (basically lots of hazelnut flavoured ganache, on a chocolate base), mini cheesecakes with a blackberry dome, fluffy (and vibrant) lemon meringues, and a surprising favourite in the form of the lemongrass, apricot and pistachio cake, create a taste sensation which would win over even the least sweet-toothed people. The drinks selection is exquisite in it’s variety alone: everything from Billecart Rose Champagne, to Virgin Cocktails, to a bespoke selection of Radio Cocktails made especially for the Afternoon Tea, my absolute favourite of which is the “Rosemarie on the Radio”: vodka, edible rose petals, lychee juice, rose extract, lemon and Moet Champagne – the result is so beautifully balanced and delicious, it should be a new national drink.
As we moved to the couch area to lie slightly less upright and create more room in our stretched stomachs, I am convinced that the cute guys who momentarily took a seat beside us, chatted to us for a few minutes, popped up to the bar, consulted one another, and then came back to collect their things and leave without a word, would have stayed had we been able to suck in our breath and stop rubbing our bellies. Now I understand why the ladies to the left made the clever decision to pack their desserts to go!