The splendour of the hotel’s Caramel Room plays host to the event labelled as a fashionista’s afternoon tea. Named Prêt-à-Portea, it is a twist on the French fashion phrase – Pret a Porter, meaning ‘ready to wear’ . The focal point is the confectionery - hand-made and emulating this season’s fashion themes and colours (think swimwear biscuits and marzipan hats), which differs from the traditional cream tea offering of scones and light cakes.
Our experience of the hotel’s customer service was second to none. Both of us being vegetarian, I’d communicated our preferences as part of our reservation and we were advised that they had all been recorded. However, on the day, it seemed to the contrary. Upon providing proof of the correspondence, the Berkeley team were profusely apologetic and made sure we had a wonderful vegetarian selection brought out to us incorporating all our preferences. In addition, as a token of their apology, we were given a glass of champagne with their compliments (welcomed with open arms) which indeed only added to the glamour of the event.
The china also forms part of the fashionista experience and is commissioned for The Berkeley and the Prêt-à-Portea event by Wedgwood and is exquisitely painted in hues of pink, pastels and gold on a white base and is available to purchase if you fancy an indulgent souvenir.
|Wedgwood Berkeley China|
Served in the said china, are a range of teas and coffees all depicted on the menu which include the bespoke Berkeley Blend to traditional Earl Grey and Darjeeling teas through to herbal teas. The service is such that the waiting team are just a moment away and when they see you are ready to pour yourself more tea, they are on hand to perform the ritual for you.
The delicately cut sandwiches featured quite a number of contemporary fillings such as red pepper & rocket, aubergine dip with gherkin and goats’ cheese & beetroot. All delicious and not being a fan of butter or spread on my sandwiches, they kindly prepared a portion to fit that request.
In conjunction with the sandwiches we were served savoury canapés consisting of cherry tomatoes with avocado, goats’ cheese & beetroot mousse pastry, tomato water and artichoke & papaya. The latter was our personal favourite and we asked for additional portions as we were insatiable for them!
Next came what Prêt-à-Portea is famous for and that is its confectionery/desserts. All of which I was assured were veggie friendly. Examples of which included:
Christian Louboutin chocolate biscuit Pigalle Spike heel with fresh turquoise hue icing and signature red sole.
Karla Collecto lemon biscuit swimsuit with cherry red icing and pretty rosette-appliqued neckline
Victoria Beckham graphic geometric cherry and white chocolate mousse skirt
Simone Rocha pineapple and coconut Savarin shirt dress with a “wow” lime punk spun sugar.
|Selection of Desserts|
Even with my sweet tooth I couldn’t finish all the biscuits, but The Berkeley offer you a little take-away box, shaped like a handbag (keeping the theme), which they will place some biscuits inside for you, which is a delightful way to carry on The Berkeley experience once you leave.
|Handbag Take-Out Boxes|
Our visit served as an early treat for our forthcoming birthdays (which we had advised them of), and as a gesture from the hotel, we were given a ‘Happy Birthday’ platter complete with candle and truffles plus a fruity cocktail which really added to our experience.
|Our Happy Birthday Platter|
The whole event was a pleasure from start to finish garnished with extra touches for a memorable day. From a vegetarian’s point of view, the selection of sweet and savoury items were plentiful, with contemporary ideas steering away from predictability. Strict vegetarians are catered for and welcomed rather than been made to feel like an inconvenience which is a refreshing change.
I would love to return again, especially as the sweet/dessert selection changes each season, so each visit would a different experience to the last. One thing I would wholeheartedly recommend (in addition to going in the first place), is book in advance, especially if you need to accommodate a large group, as places are limited and are booked up months ahead – as I would hate for you to be disappointed and not be able to experience the charming afternoon that we did.