“The most exciting of English rituals that I adore is that of high afternoon tea. Even though I am not English, I love it and always try to find some time to have a proper tea-time once in a while. You must respect it and indulge in the full ceremony of it.” - Manolo Blahnik
The Berkeley's Prêt-à-Portea is an afternoon tea designed with fashionistas in mind. The menu features sweet treats to reflect items shown at London Fashion Week. The Berkeley's chefs even attend the catwalk shows for inspiration.
Prêt-à-Portea has recently marked it’s 10th birthday. To celebrate, Pastry chef Mourad Khiat has chosen 10 of his favourite creations from the past decade.
If you love fashion and sweet delights, this is the ultimate dining experience. The menu includes edible replicas of fashion classics, from the Burberry trench to Jimmy Choo shoes.
On a very wet and windy Saturday afternoon, my friend and I scuttled along Knightsbridge towards The Berkeley. The doorman spared me my blushes and averted his gaze as a gust of wind blew my dress up, à la Marilyn, right in front of the large glass facade of the hotel.
We skedaddled in through the revolving door to find a roaring fire and two cosy armchairs crying out for us to sink ourselves into. Not wanting to be late for our reservation, we resisted and were shown to our table in the Collins Room.
This room is beautiful with a contemporary decor of silver and greys. Petal chandeliers add an air of glamour while cherry blossom motifs with quirky birds have been playfully dotted around the room.
Having selected our teas from the menu, a silver three-tiered cake stand arrived and our afternoon tea began.
Starting with a selection of finger sandwiches on a variety of freshly made breads, including onion which was delightful. We sipped on Laurent Perrier Champagne while devouring the savoury section. Then onto the cakes…
Moschino Sugar & Chic Sponge Cake Bag - blood orange Victoria sponge ‘Yellow M’ handbag encased in quilted red chocolate
Jimmy Choo Praline Pumps - velvet praline cream cake with gold hazelnut croquant and sweetheart chocolate bow.
Jason Wu - The Catwalk Coconut Cherry Compote with a playful pink skirt and a cancan leg for good measure.
Dolce & Gabbana - Blackcurrant Bavarois Star Anise Pannacotta, topped with a Chocolate Owl.
Burberry Tea Trench Biscuit - classic trench coat chocolate biscuit with creamy royal icing. Guests staying at The Berkeley will also find a Burberry trench in their room.
Charlotte Olympia Bootie Biscuit - a dramatic cinnamon biscuit boot with black and red icing.
Monolo Blahnik Biscuit - designed with the most iconic of Monolo’s shoes in mind, the Hangisi. It comes in an array of colours and has glitter decorations.
Lanvin - Draped Honeycomb Delice - almond sponge with honeycomb mousse and a light meringue ruffle.
Simone Rocha Salted Caramel Eclair - tulle dress vanilla éclair filled with salted caramel crème pâtissière with sugar flower decorations.
Nicholas Kirkwood Pearl Pump Sachertorte - layered with raspberry, chocolate ganache and Valrhona crémeux topped with delicate silver pearl decorations.
This was possibly the most colourful and picturesque afternoon tea we’ve ever had. It was interesting to compare the cakes to the photos of the fashion items from the catwalk (presented on a stand on the table). We had a lot of fun taking photos. Not only did the food look fantastic, it tasted incredible too.
We couldn’t quite finish all the food so were given a doggie bag to take home. Don’t be fooled by “dainty cakes", this afternoon tea is plentiful so go hungry! Our lovely waitress even slipped in a couple of extra cakes for the journey home.
We also purchased a book which has been released to showcase a collection of over 20 secret recipes and baking techniques from Mourad Khiat, to recreate at home.
After our afternoon tea, we visited the hotel’s Blue Bar, the perfect place to enjoy a sophisticated, colourful cocktail or two. The cocktails are inspired by the bold colour of the room and are categorised into green, yellow, red and blue. Each one denotes a different potency of mix.
Feeling suitably full from the food and merry from the cocktails, we headed back to our hotel. But not before having a little rest in those comfy chairs by the fire.
The afternoon tea menu at The Berkeley changes every six months to reflect the changing fashion seasons. So there is always an excuse to return to see the new offerings from the Prêt-à-Portea team.
“There is nothing more English than a hat, except perhaps high fashion tea served at The Berkeley” - Philip Tracey