In my quest for a year of vegan afternoon tea, I decided I just had to make a detour to the capital city. Surely London would have a wealth of options? I found that some of the fancier hotels did indeed offer a vegan version of their usual afternoon tea, but the prices were extortionate and the cake plate seemed to be replaced by a fruit plate. That’s not what I call value for money. So I was delighted to encounter La Suite West, a hotel near Hyde Park with a vegan menu for their restaurant as well as for their afternoon tea. As luck would have it, we turned up in London on a beautiful summer’s day, and spent a few hours lounging in the park watching Asian tourists manouevering their selfie sticks before arriving at the restaurant and being offered an outside seat. Sitting out in the fresh air with a brilliant blue sky above us was just lovely. I was very much in the mood for a good afternoon tea.
The tea menu wasn’t extensive, but I had a nice pot of peppermint tea and my fellow chose the Darjeeling, which came with a gigantic jug of milk (there was a choice of two non-dairy milks). Free refills, of course, though no mismatched vintage crockery, which is always a shame, but not surprising in this kind of fancy establishment. And also no cake stand, which has happened to me before and reduces the wow factor a bit. Could the food bring it back up?
The sandwich plate arrived pretty promptly, and we each had five generously-sized finger sandwiches. Along with the vegan staple of cucumber and hummus, we also had kimchi coleslaw with red pepper (which I thought was spicy and exciting), mock tuna with sweetcorn and coleslaw, scrambled tofu with mustard cress (containing that black salt which gives things an eggy taste – it was very convincing) and summer herb pesto with tomatoes. It was nice to have some variety, and especially to have some brown bread! I really enjoyed all the fillings, though some of them were a little light and could have handled a bit more between the bread.
And look at those scones! There were three scones each, with a nice outer crust and light, fluffy insides. Rather than jam, they were served with sliced fresh strawberries – an especially nice touch, as I’m not that crazy about jam. Best of all was the generous serving of whipped coconut cream. It was so delicious, and gave a nice exotic taste to it all. I could happily eat these every day!
I actually think the cake plate was the weakest of the three. We got these three little bites each, on top of a sticky date and citrus sauce. The chocolate cake in the middle was nice, but not the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. The little banana cake square was soft and gooey and full of fruity flavour, and was perhaps just a bit better than the light, zingy lemon cake.
All in all, it was a lovely afternoon tea. I was swept away by the occasion and the loveliness of the weather: sitting outside in the sunshine, eating good vegan food in London feels quite glamorous and exciting to me! I would love to visit the restaurant again and eat from the normal menu too, as I imagine everything will be flavoursome and well cooked. It was on the pricey side – £21 per person, with 12.5% service added on. But for an occasion, it was a real treat.