The magnificent building home to the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel is one of my favourites in the capital. I’d love to lay my head in one of the glorious rooms in the gothic revival edifice. Unfortunately I’m always told to jog on by Mr S, due to the close proximity to my own bed.
Designed by Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, it originally opened as The Midland Grand Hotel in 1873. Decades later it closed in 1935 and took on its next guise as railway offices for 76 years! In 2011, revitalised it returned to its roots and opened the doors again to guests as the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.
My love for being surrounded by grandiose architecture, history and of course good food has led me to many a meal at The Gilbert Scott, a Marcus Wareing restaurant which is also part of the hotel.
This visit, however, was all about the festive afternoon tea. What better way to get into the Christmas spirit then by indulging in some foodie treats and a glass of Champagne.
The afternoon tea takes place in The Gilbert Scott bar next to the restaurant. It’s ornately decorated with huge bells hanging like chandeliers from the ceiling and intricate designs in red, blue, green and gold.
We started with a Mulled Wine Bellini. Hallelujah! No word of a lie, but I think I found Christmas in a glass. Its gorgeous festive looks sent me into a giddy tailspin – Perfectly red, bubbly, shimmering gold and topped with a sprig of a fir tree.
I had no choice but to chat up the barman and found out the delicious sweet nectar was down to three ingredients – Champagne, a mulled wine reduction (secret recipe) and edible gold powder. Sipping away we were left pondering how we were going to replicate this wonder at home.
Before long we were presented with our glorious tiered stand of treats. It was so tempting not to go straight in for the hot scones, but I was good and started from the bottom up.
The savouries consisted of roast beef, rocket and onion jam; smoked trout, crème fraîche and dill; egg mayonnaise, sausage roll and a leek and Stilton tartlet. The vegetarian substitutes were falafel which I found odd for a festive menu, an aubergine pâté on a brioche bun and the classic cucumber sandwich. It was all moreishly delightful, so much so that we went in for a second round of savouries.
The only item which didn’t sit well with me was the leek and Stilton tarlet. The pastry was far too sweet and the filling tasted rather bland.
It didn’t take long to delve into the sweets. Deciding which one to devour first being the only problem. We had panacotta with mincemeat, chocolate tart, lemon meringue, scones with jam and clotted cream and a rather modest looking mince pie.
Although I love everything about Christmas, I cannot bear mince pies or Christmas cake for that matter. It’s the raisins. I’m no fan. So it was left on my plate like a rejected brussel sprout. Ironically, I do like those.
The panacotta (once I’d scraped the mince meat off) and lemon meringue were delicious. And honestly as lovely as the chocolate tart tasted I was hoping for a mini chocolate yule log. It is Christmas after all.
Once the bubbles were over, a pot of Lapsang Souchong completed my afternoon tea. The entrancing and smoky character of the tea left me feeling all cosy and warm.
By the end we were well and truly ensconced in the decadent surroundings evoking memories of days gone by. The struggle was real when we had to eventually tear ourselves away. What a perfect setting for a Christmas gathering with friends. And I promise I will stay there one of these days. I have a knack of getting my own way!
Which treats do you enjoy at Christmas? Let me know in the comments below or at:
Gilbert Scott | St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Rd | Kings Cross | London | NW1 2AR
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