Up On Reflection
We’re leisurely making our way round the courtyard of Rosewood Hotel in Holborn, a mere canapé’s throw from Sir John Soane Museum. Our first visit was for dinner in Holborn Dining Room. Second visit, Champagne in Scarfes Bar. Our third visit is for afternoon tea in Mirror Room. These are the last photos you’ll ever see of the Retro Art Afternoon Tea. Fortunately, Rosewood London hasn’t gone the way of Bonhams or Typing Room Restaurants – history. Instead, this fifth edition afternoon tea is being superseded by the Van Gogh Afternoon Tea to coincide with an exhibition in Tate Britain.
Retro Art Afternoon Tea is just what the doctor ordered after our inaugural Irish Georgian Society London St Patrick’s Party lecture A Very Grand Tour held at The Medical Society of London, off Harley Street. The lecture might have stretched to 100 slides on 16 buildings in 40 minutes but prepping over dinner in Indian Accent, Albemarle Street’s part subterranean wholly Subcontinental haute cuisine restaurant, eased the intellectual burden. Even an eight hour Very Grand Detour lunch the day before in Hix Soho didn’t detract from a performance as polished as our reflections in Rosewood’s Mirror Room.
An enigmatic vitrine, shortly to become an evolving diorama of dainty delights, is placed on our table. Pescatarian savouries upfront include salmon vol au vents with cream cheese and keta caviar, egg and watercress sandwiches, and the cucumber and cheese variety. In true Duchess of Bedford tradition, plain and raisin scones follow, accompanied by Corniche Cornish cream, lemon curd, and strawberry and elderflower jam. Queen Victoria Darjeeling blend is a 19th century interrupter. That’s before the afternoon tea leaps another century forwards, starting with retro sweets of Ferrero Rocher | Jaffa Cake | lemon flying saucer | rhubarb and custard. Finally, the vitrine is filled with a very 20th century interruption, a diorama of edible vintage sculptures.
- Malika Favre inspired pastry: lime and pineapple mousse, raspberry crémeux and sponge, raspberry glaze and chocolate. Malika is a French illustrator and graphic artist based in London. Her bold minimalist style bridges the gap between Pop Art and Op Art.
- Andy Warhol inspired pastry: Morello cherry jelly, chocolate mousse, vanilla brûlée, flourless chocolate sponge, cherry ganache. Campbell’s Soup is one of Andy Warhol’s most celebrated works of art. Produced in 1962, it’s composed of 32 canvases each representing a can of Campbell’s Soup.
- Retro Wall Art inspired pastry: vanilla tart case, almond crunchy praline, salted caramel mousse, chocolate crémeux, caramel glaze, chocolate popping candy. Wall Art took on a new meaning in Seventies and Eighties, embracing geometrics and flowers in bright colours.
“As a Pastry Chef, I’m always curious and draw inspiration from things that surround me. London is a vibrant city with an incredibly energetic art scene. Rosewood London’s quirky interiors reflect the British capital’s history, culture and sensibilities,” explains Executive Pastry Chef Mark Perkins. “The interiors feature works of some of the world’s most renowned artists, with contemporary pieces complemented by more traditional art. My latest creations are inspired by retro art from the Sixties to the Eighties.” Next time, we’ll complete our Rosewood London courtyard journey with a leisurely visit to Sense Spa.