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We were given the opportunity to try the UK's leading gift experience provider Buyagift's exciting Afternoon Tea Smartbox, a multi-venue voucher which comes beautifully presented in a sleek gift box.
The Buyagift Smartbox is the perfect size to fit through a standard letterbox, it is the perfect gift to send a loved one in the post. The first thing we noticed was the gorgeous packaging, it comprises of a high quality glossy book detailing the different Afternoon Tea experiences, along with the voucher neatly presented in red card in the gift box.
With over 200 experiences on offer (and the choice between Afternoon Tea with or without bubbles) across the UK this voucher gives the recipient the freedom of choice. Furthermore, it will please even the fussiest of friends as it's easy to exchange for another experience on Buyagift at no extra cost if the gifte so wishes. With validity for 24-months, there is plenty of time to redeem the choice voucher.
The booklet features most of the experiences, but new venues are added daily to the Buyagift site, so it would be advisable to look online too. We chose Afternoon Tea at Hotel Chocolat, at London Borough Market (also available in Leeds).
Jumping off the tube at London Bridge we followed Saturday shoppers heading for London's renowned food and drink destination. Rabot 1745 was nestled right in the heart of Borough Market on the quaint Bedale Street known for housing the top floor apartment used in Bridget Jones' Diary!
On arrival the downstairs cafe was bustling with people sheltering from the cold and sipping from cups of steaming hot chocolate. We were led upstairs to the more formal restaurant where we opted to sit on the heated terrace overlooking the hive of market activity below. Heaters and blankets ensured that this was a cosy place to enjoy our afternoon tea whilst taking in the unique surroundings of London Bridge's dark green arches and the panoramic view of the exotic stalls below.
After wrapping up in our blankets, we were presented with a small dish containing cocoa beans. The instructions invited us to start our chocolate experience by sampling the raw cocoa, asking us to twist the bean open, inhale the aromas and taste the rich kernel. It was a taste of the treats to come and a great way to get the taste buds tingling! We then enjoyed a glass of prosecco whilst perusing the menus and peaking over the balustrade at the Christmas shoppers.
After studying the anatomy of the cocoa bean printed onto our napkins, our hot drinks and stands were brought to the table. We opted for the classic and hazelnut hot chocolates - the elegant white cups filled with thick, frothy chocolate were too hard to resist - but a selection of cocoa infusions, coffees and traditional teas were also on offer. The hazelnut hot chocolate was particularly moreish reminding us both of Forrero Rocher! The sandwiches and sweet treats were displayed on contemporary wooden stands, fitting with the chalet feel of the Rabot interior.
We ordered a classic and a vegetarian afternoon tea. The finger sandwiches tied in with the cocoa-centric menu, but used chocolate as a subtle flavour rather than as the main element. Classic fillings were enhanced with a cocoa twist, such as rare beef with chocolate horseradish, cocoa-gin cured salmon, and cucumber with a white chocolate cream cheese.
But moving onto the scone tier, the cocoa element really came into its own. The traditionalist sat opposite me tucked into a warm sultana scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam, but I opted for the festive cinnamon option smothered in the rich signature 70% Rabot ganache.
The finale was the top layer of puddings and handmade chocolates. The chocolate caramel slice had a great texture, with a crunchy bottom layer and jelly topping, and the Viennese swirl (to use the old cliché) was melt in the mouth. This was all topped off with a sample of what Hotel Chocolat has to offer with a tasting selection of chocolates made in the Rabot kitchens, tempting you to take advantage of the shop below.
For a chocolate lover, this was the perfect afternoon tea experience, with the cocoa themed menu satisfying the chocoholic at every turn. It was also the ideal location for exploring this bustling part of London, allowing us to enjoy the buzz of the market below from the comfort of the Rabot Terrace. With the river only minutes away, we had no excuse not to walk off our tasty treats whilst taking in the sights of the Southbank.
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