LONDON, United Kingdom —The appropriately named Prêt-à-Portea at the The Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, London is one of the finest afternoon tea’s in the capital. The experience is a must for every fashionista living in or passing through London. You can taste delicious pastries in the shape of shoes, bags and dresses inspired by the world’s top designer such as Manolo Blahnik, Tom Ford, Prada and Lanvin.
This unique concept was launched in 2005 and season after season it remains one of the best afternoon teas in London, the only downside is that you need to book at least one month in advance for a table. However, it is certainly worth the wait!
“We wanted to add a creative twist to the classic elements of the traditional English afternoon tea, you can have wonderful afternoon teas in many places, but our is unique and out of the ordinary. Near our hotel there are some important department stores such as Harrods and Harvey Nichols and we liked the idea of creating something related to fashion” says Christina Norton, Public Relations Executive.
The menu changes twice a year according to an Autumn/Winter Collection and a Spring/Summer Collection, it is continually updated with new trends. In the current menu you can find a Yves Saint Laurent ‘Cabas Chyc’ forest green Victoria sponge cake handbag, Giambattista Valli red macaroon dress with rose ganache and lavish chocolate ruffles, Fendi’s maple and ginger ankle boot biscuit with yellow and black icing, Diane Von Furstenberg’s pink lady mousse and kalamancy cremeux topped with playful interlocking sugar puzzles, Marc Jacobs double breasted chocolate biscuit blazer with show stopping sparkly pink icing, Lanvin chocolate and orange mousse topped with mouth-watering French meringue, Manolo Blahnik ‘Neurotica’ pink polka dot cake pumps with gianduja cream, just to mention a few.
They were all delicious! It is certainly challenging to choose a favourite as all the flavours in each creation either melt or explode on your tongue in perfect harmony and are complemented perfectly by the fragrant tea. For my personal taste, the Marc Jacobs chocolate biscuit was especially enjoyable. The eclectic mix of ingredients is what makes this afternoon tea a particularly unique experience.
The exceptionally talented Pastry Chef, Mourad Khiat, visits the big catwalk shows throughout every London Fashion Week to find inspiration. Starting with sketches and in discussion with a hand-picked panel of fashionistas, Mourad carefully considers which shapes, patterns and colours will then translate best into pastry and sugar work. Once designed on paper, tests are done in the kitchen until everyone is completely satisfied that the new collection meets the standard of those that gone before.
The experience of the Pastry Chef and his staff and the quality of the products ensures that excellence prevails across the menu. It is fascinating to see how these creations combine the worlds of food and fashion, they are so pretty that it’s almost a pity to eat them. Everything is fashion in the Caramel Room of The Berkeley, even the cups and dishes are designed by Paul Smith.
Afternoon tea at the Berkeley is a wonderful experience, a very girly moment to spend with your best friends, to celebrate something or just to spend a lovely afternoon in a glamorous location eating tasty cakes and drinking fine tea or champagne.
What advice would you give Pastry Chef, Mourad Khiat after visiting the latest catwalks of the Autumn/Winter Collection 2013 at the LFW?