Whether as a delicious pre-theatre meal or for a casual catch-up with your best friend, I’m thrilled to introduce you to the new afternoon tea menu at Le Restaurant de PAUL. Louise – my sister – and I were kindly invited to their Covent Garden patisserie to sample the bottomless afternoon tea option and we can’t wait to walk you through our experience.
First up, tea! And French bubbles!
Whenever I’m at afternoon tea, I like to opt for either an English breakfast or a white tea (jasmine or oolong) especially now that I’m dairy-free milk-wise. This time, we opted simply for the free-flowing bubbles that is pivotal to the new menu. From £19.95, you can enjoy a complete afternoon tea experience and their priciest option is still incredibly affordable at £24.95.
Light and refreshing yet robust in flavour, I found the creaminess of this drink complemented my cakes perfectly. Also, the signature PAUL Ky Procco made for a delicious opener to the evening. It’s sweet, so takes the edge off the alcohol.
Let’s take a moment to appreciate the restaurant’s dreamy interiors, before we get into the food. Plush quilted seating, mirrored walls and a classic French colour palette: every Instagrammer’s dream! I managed to arrive early and snag a corner table by a white wall.
Food-wise, my sister and I were each treated to an afternoon tea for one. Hers was the standard menu with meat options and mine the vegetarian option. We can vouch for both being moreish and worthy of sandwich top-ups, although my veggie option didn’t come without its’ complications! As I’d opted to ‘change’ my menu, mine didn’t come on a stand and everything was cramped onto one plate, as was my sister’s even though hers was the usual selection.
It was only when it came to attempting to Instagram for the occasion that I was offered to ‘take a picture of somebody else’s stand’ and the kitchen staff came out to offer my sister a stand for hers. Meanwhile, I mean, can you spell Camembert on my macaron? It was a shame because the food is, truthfully, delicious, and this is the third time in three weeks that I’ve had a sub-par, ‘second class citizen’ experience purely because of choosing the vegetarian option.
The tea comes with three sandwich halves, each on fresh PAUL bread and each as tasty as the next. I began with a cheese and onion chutney sandwich on sourdough bread. The cheese was tastefully mature with a huge spoonful of chutney which I could’ve eaten by the jar! A strong contender for my favourite sandwich which instead was won by…
The mixed pepper sandwich. Oh my gosh. If you’re selecting the vegetarian afternoon tea, this is certainly the highlight. Beautifully roasted peppers and salad leaves in between sourdough bread, crisp to the bite but soft, so soft, inside.
Lastly the Camembert sandwich which I was most excited for but ultimately let down by. It wasn’t melty enough for my taste but perhaps I should’ve scoffed it first to enjoy it warm? It felt like it needed something more to flesh out the filling, but Camembert is often so rich that I’m not sure what my dream pairing might be.
Louise opted for the standard menu which included another creamy Camembert sandwich, a poached salmon option (which she LOVED) and a chicken and mustard sandwich that she thought was delectable. The sandwiches are certainly generous in size compared to many other teas I’ve had in London.
Next, the star of the show. PAUL included a traditional sweet brioche in place of the classic English scone that’s usually the second course in afternoon tea. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but you can expect a fluffy brioche mound that’s coated in a sugar crumb. SO delicious that I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day and deal with the teeth replacements later.
Afterwards came cake! I controversially always prefer the savoury goods at afternoon tea, but these were expectedly amazing. I’m not a fan of carrot cake which features prominently but their layered strawberry dessert was the perfect way to round off the meal. Not only does it complement the bottomless bubbles, it’s also light and fresh, a great summer sweet.
Though our afternoon tea got off to a rocky start with a menu and stand issue, I truly enjoyed every bite of my meal. The brioche alone is worth going for! I’ve since confirmed with the team at PAUL that every afternoon tea will be displayed on a three-tier stand, regardless of which dietary menu you select.