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Café Forty One has given the quintessential British tradition of Afternoon Tea a vegan make over, as La Suite West Vegan Afternoon Tea becomes London’s first to include vegan French pâtisserie.
La Suite West, a London luxury boutique hotel, is conveniently located minutes from Hyde Park, just around the corner from Bayswater and Queensway tube stations. Set in a quiet street, it boasts a tranquil terrace shaded with trees and a minimalist yet chic modern decor.
Serving solely vegan food, Café Forty One offers breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, seven days a week. Each can be enjoyed either in the dining room or the terrace.
La Suite West has been serving vegan food in its restaurant for quite a few years, yet its new head chef Clarisse Flon has chosen to introduce a selection of delicious French vegan food so that Café Forty One is now the first in London to offer vegan French pâtisserie.
Pâtisserie is something we French people take very seriously, using vast amounts of butter, eggs, cream and full fat milk to create delicious creamy and buttery cakes or pastries. Experimenting with vegan baking, I have found that eggs are often easy to substitute but the richness and creaminess of dairy are hard to duplicate because vegan alternatives are simply not as high in fat.
When I learned about La Suite West Vegan Afternoon Tea, it certainly piqued my curiosity. I headed to London on a hot and sunny Saturday afternoon to try it out.
Whenever I try a new restaurant, I am always keen to hear feedback from others, so I took one of my French non-vegan pâtisserie-loving girlfriends along. We sat on the outside terrace adorned with long narrow wooden tables and benches. Trees have been planted to provide a completely shaded area which was perfect on such a scorching afternoon.
We were welcomed with a glass of non-alcoholic fizz and each chose a hot drink from the extensive loose-leaf tea selection.
The food arrived shortly afterwards, served on a three-tier glass stand. La Suite West's Vegan Afternoon Tea menu includes the following:
Chipotle cheese with caramelised onion chutney and rocket on rye bread
Brioche roll with cream cheese and smoked carrot 'salmon'
BLT with eggplant 'bacon' and mayonnaise on sourdough
Mediterranean hummus and cucumber on farmhouse loaf
PÂTISSERIES OF THE WEEK
Selection is displayed in the restaurant.
Raisin and plain scones with homemade berry compote, vegan honey and clotted cream
Glass of non-alcoholic fizz
Choice of freshly roasted Italian coffee or luxury loose-leaf tea selection
We enjoyed our pâtisserie selection: a Summer Fruit Tart with crème pâtissière, a Lemon Meringue, a Hazelnut Mousse served in a chocolate cone and an Almond Genoise with raspberry. All presented in bite size versions, the cakes were absolutely delicious. The crème pâtissière might not have tasted as rich as if it had been made with dairy but it was still smooth and silky. The Lemon Meringue, chocolate cone and Genoise were simply superb.
We also found the choice of sandwiches really good and both loved the Chipotle Cheese and Mediterranean Hummus. My favourite though was the Smoked Carrot 'Salmon' which was really excellent with not only the taste but also the softness of smoked salmon. While being very tasty, the texture of the BLT eggplant 'bacon' sandwich could be improved as it certainly could not pass for bacon.
The scones were served with a tasty homemade berry compote, vegan honey and coconut-based clotted cream. The cream was a bit too coconuty to my liking so I preferred eating the scones without it.
Overall, La Suite West Vegan Afternoon Tea was a treat and we both really enjoyed our afternoon. The food was really delicious and can certainly appeal to both vegans and non vegans. La Suite West Vegan Afternoon Tea is reasonably priced at £35 per person for a generous spread that left us completely full for the rest of the day. No dinner required!
Blog by Annabelle Randle, visit her blog The Flexitarian
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