REVIEW: BOTTOMLESS AFTERNOON TEA AT PAUL BAKERY, COVENT GARDEN
By Jodi Bartle
Afternoon tea – two loaded words that bring to mind both the joy of quirky English rituals and the unlikelihood of you ever having enough time on your hands to ever go and have it.
But there is something wonderful about taking your time to sit down with someone, drinking endless cups of steamingly hot tea while having good natured debates over whether to layer the cream onto the jam onto the scone, or the other way around. Luckily for the afternoon tea-lovers amongst us, the French bakery PAUL has launched a bottomless afternoon tea with - deliciously – a Parisian twist.
Known for baguettes that are properly chewy with a satisfying crust and croissants that are authentically buttery but with a flakiness that makes the front of your shirt looking like you’ve been frantically chipping wood, PAUL bakery wants you to rediscover the fun and the calories and the tipsiness of time spent scoffing cakes with your mates while being served delicacies.
What’s not to love?
Last Tuesday, my husband and I were invited to the Covent Garden branch to give the new menu a go. We were greeted with a sparkling glass of Kir Royale, the base of which was the free-flowing (and I mean free-flowing) Vin Mousseux from Ky Procco by Alain Gayrel.
We were seated and soon presented with a towering three-tiered cake stand, filled with crunchy little camembert sandwiches, and softer versions with poached salmon and chicken and mustard. Simple and subtle, these were the prefect start to carb us up and cut some of the sweetness that was to follow.
Our next plate up the tower was the French scone alternative, a glossy and sugared brioche bun, served with jam and the silkiest cream. We ate them too fast this time to argue over the correct layering.
Frequent top-ups from the waiter into our flutes mean that we talked quite loudly and very enthusiastically, which is a good thing for an afternoon tea-time date with your husband, sans kids. Those who eat cake and drink fizzy wine together, stay together, etc etc; though for those of you who aren’t massive mid-week drinkers, there were alternatives. Tea and coffee being the obvious and possibly the more sensible approach.
We moved onto the top tier, straining with the prettiest jumble of patisserie. We had squares of strawberry Fraisier cake, a caramelly rich carrot cake and two mini macarons. The coconut one was a little bomb of the most gorgeous aromatic crunch.
It was all very decadent, and elegant, and possibly not something that you’d do too frequently.
But what a treat - to sit down, mid-week, with your best friend and snaffle your way through utterly gorgeous little French fancies while being plied with a very delicious bubbly drink.
I would take your mum, your sister, your boss, your boy/girlfriend – anyone who loves a little English/French mashup in the middle of the afternoon. As they (probably don’t say very often in real life) in France, ohhh la la, viola! That’s all your hump day treats sorted.
Find your nearest PAUL Bakery here.