Lost in Translation Afternoon Tea @ The Park Hyatt Tokyo

Courtesy of the “Lost in Translation” movie The Park Hyatt in Tokyo has become a stomping ground for tourists to stop by for a cocktail @ The New York bar on the 52nd floor. The bar hosted the famous scenes between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansen and has admiring skyline views of Tokyo City – worthy for a tipple pit stop. 

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The New York Bar opens for the evening and gives an opportunity to see the sun set over the city. The food and drink is suitably New York inspired with great american cocktail options, I opted for a Pisco Sour which was fresh and frothy!

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We took the opportunity to dine at the Park Hyatt’s Peak Lounge for Afternoon Tea in their Skylit Bamboo Garden so that we could indulge in great natural light views of the city. In our time in Tokyo the Park Hyatt’s views were the best we had seen – due to its location being a bit afar from the action it gave a wide city view.

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The atrium had a wonderful spaccey feel due to its large glassed windsows and high covex ceilings. The decor was a little underwelming but the views made up for it.

The Afternoon Tea menu provided a vast tea selection, ranging from the traditional to herbal and japanese varieties. There was also an option to have a completely “Sweet Afternoon Tea” however I have chose the Traditonal “Afternoon Tea” to sample their savoury bites. Both menus were priced the same at 3800Yen.

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After selecting our teas the finger sandwiches soon followed. The Japanese have a way of making things very cute and precise, and this tea was no different! The sandwiches were some of the smallest and cutest I have ever seen…..who knew you could make white sliced bread thumb size?!

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The tea settings were pretty and the cutlery – simple and white elegant.

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Scones came out warm with a variety of Praline & Plain. This was the first Praline scone i have ever tasted and I loved the caramelised flavour it added to the crumbly scone. The condiments were good but portions of the clotted cream required me to request for an encore.

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Just when I thought it was time to start on the sweet pastries we were surprised with a variety of savoury canapés….

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Once we had tasted all the little additions we started devouring our sweets. Favourites were the chocolate & cassis mousse and macaroons. Alike to the savoury round, additional sweet treats were presented and the sweet square jellies were moorish!

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All in all the Park Hyatt tea was a well executed afternoon tea service with fantastic views of the city. The wide variety of treats and extensive brew menu should find something to your fancy. A little refurb on the sofa and a few more flower displays would notch up the deco.

I would highly recommend a cocktail at the New York bar….its famous after afterall!

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Meatless Monday @ Muriel’s Kitchen

My Meatless Monday’s usually involve an attempt at some healthy home-cooking but when in London I use Monday’s to eat my vegetables in the form of sticky desserts! One dessert in particular –  Muriel’s Kitchen’s Famous Carrot & Walnut Cake. Muriel’s Kitchen is an English “no-nonsense” inspired cafe meets restaurant serving healthy plates with locally sourced British ingredients at a reasonable price. The Chef’s change up the menus monthly at their 3 Kitchens (South Kensington, Soho & Leicester Square).  As you walk by their pretty window displays lined up with delectable cakes, salads and savouries you know you have to stop and enter to try some of their mouth-watering “healthy” treats.

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Having dropped into the South Kensington Kitchen several times in the past I took an opportunity when in Soho to give Muriel a visit. The Soho Kitchen is a wonderful large space with a gorgeous shabby chic interior; mosaic tiles, old leather sofas, velvet stools, bird-cage lamps and fun swinging garden chairs.

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We took a cosy seat at the back of the restaurant against the bric-a-brac adorned shed area – see if you can spot me!

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Now for the menu, breakfast is popular as is the all day dining menu which enables you to graze on some sharing plates and those yummy house bakes! We kicked off with an aperitif of British Bubbles and Rose Lemonade….they went down a treat!

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After deciding on our dessert choice we adjourned back to our selection of savoury plates, Gooey Baked Camembert served with Dipping Crostini’s & Cranberry & Cashew Crunch, Butternut Squash, Feta & Spinach Quiche and Super Greens Salad. When I next pop in I will definitely indulge in the Baked Camembert again!

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Now for the Piece de Resistance – The Famous Carrot and Walnut cake! If you are a Carrot Cake Fan then you should try this and stack it up against your favourites. I found it to be light and fluffy as well indulgent and nutty –  I would eat it on most Meatless Mondays should my waistline prohibit! As this was a special Monday I also indulged in their very generously sized Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding with Custard.

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If I was poping into Muriel’s Kitchen tomorrow I would want to try their Chocolate & Guiness Mini Pint Cake and their Passion Fruit Cake Stack. The Dulche de Leche Brownie and Red Velvet Cupcake sound like the perfect Take-Away too! My advice – go with a large group and  try as much as you can from their dessert menu, its large and catered for all sweet tooth palates!

When in Doubt Eat Cake!

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To Tea or Not To Tea

Another day, another scone. My second London tea-themed experience took me to my favourite Drawing rooms within the beautiful and quaint boutique – Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington.

Before I reveal the delicious details of their Afternoon Tea I have to admit I love the Ampersand Hotel and bias happens to creep for me, but for all good reason. After my 6th visit in 12 months I still say its chic, modern and easy to enjoy. That said I am not alone in my opinion – I have taken and recommended many friends to try the Ampersand whether for tea, lunch or dinner or even a night cap and to date all have enjoyed its boutique ambience and personal touch service. Given that the hotel opened in 2012 it remains to hold a new feel upon entering with a gorgeous fresh interior.

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There are plenty of places that serve afternoon tea in London but it pleasures me when I find a place like the Ampersand that is more off the beaten track and yet low on the pretentious pretence that many London establishments hold.  The Drawing rooms relaxed “french finess meets british style” gets you cosy quickly. For me an ideal spot for a pot of tea and girl time gossip.

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Their Afternoon Tea theme alternates every few months inspired by current London events. A long running one is their Science Afternoon Tea – super fun, creative and totally delicious. I really recommend trying it.

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This summer has had three other fun themes inspired by Wimbledon, the Chelsea Flower show and the BBC Proms. A friend of mine tried the Chelsea Flower show tea and voila! Looks pretty divine…..

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The Musical afternoon tea is their current running theme and to my delight I got to try out their musical inspired sweet treats @32.50 pp and 44.50pp with a glass of bubbles.

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The tartines (french open sandwiches) and gougeres (savoury profiteroles) are more then moorish and available with all of their afternoon tea selections. The team are very flexible and invite you to switch and swatch whatever fillings you prefer more of. So great if you are a vegetarian or like me want more of the yummy coronation chicken tartines!

The white chocolate scones really are one of the best in town. Even after my recent scout this month I still think the Ampersand have mastered these beige boys! Worked perfectly with my pot of peppermint tea.

Now for the sweet musical treats, for me the highlight was the passionfruit coulis mousse and salted caramel macaroon. I’m not an avid fan of macaroons usually but these turquoise ones had me wanting more. The cello  cookie, grand piano cake and raspberry mousse cake were all delightful and not too heavy to finish!

The Ampersand team really made the experience a special one. Their friendly Head Chef Chris Golding made a point to escape from his hot kitchen to welcome us and gave us an opportunity to take a tour of where the magic is created. He also provided some extra cakes and brownies on the house for my friends who couldn’t eat the raspberry cake with gelatine in them. Super kind!

Chris introduced his Head Pastry Chef Ji Sun Shin who was busy creating the next batch of delicious cakes.

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Chris also heads up the menu at Apero the main dining restaurant & bar at the Ampersand; its worth checking out for lunch, dinner or like me for cocktails and bites. The menu is always interesting and his selection of house breads such as the flower pot and beetroot buns for the UnBeetable burgers are yum! He’s such a beetroot believer he has one tattooed on his arm! Also, the squid scotch egg is a must – my favourite battered egg to date!

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Another option is to have evening drinks in the Drawing rooms. I have enjoyed their canapés and champagne and found it to be a charming way to catch up with a group before the night begins.

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All in all the Ampersand is an elegant little find that I recommend for any time of day. Their afternoon tea is consistently inspiring and the Drawing rooms a charming cocoon in busy South Kensington. “Brush off your glad rags and try out their Fashion Afternoon Tea” in September and make sure you have a potter around the corners of the hotel and you will find all sorts of character and quirk –  fancy a game of ping pong or vino party….you’ve found a great place!

IMG_5552Find our more at http://www.ampersandhotel.com

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