A while ago I went to New York for work, and I happened upon several of those very competitive American chaps. You know, the ones that ask to meet you at 6.00 a.m. for breakfast or coffee, and to talk business. After a couple of meetings at ridiculously early hours I took to telling them I was already rather busy at that time, but I would happily meet them for afternoon tea. That confounded quite a few of them, although each of them was bemused enough to accept my invitation, and it did make for some much more constructive and less competitive business, and at a more civilised hour.
I hope that my little intervention had some small effect in bringing to the attention of our transatlantic cousins how civilised a good afternoon tea could be. However, nothing I ever exposed them to could in any way compete with the sumptuous and extraordinary afternoon tea provided by The Duke of Richmond Hotel in Guernsey.
I promise you that I am generally reticent and gentle with superlatives (something else with which I was trying to help our American friends), so the use of words like ‘amazing’ or ‘extraordinary’ do not roll off my tongue very easily. I have taken afternoon tea with the best of them. I’ve supped from a china cup at Raffles in Singapore, slurped Darjeeling at The Ritz in London, and gulped warming builders’ tea on the bridge of a ship in a storm. I have never experienced better than at The Duke of Richmond Hotel in Guernsey on a beautiful day in the summer of 2017. The very special way in which it is presented, and the myriad ways in which they make the effort to make it different, combine to offer a truly British culinary experience, but with tea from India, of course!
I was hugely impressed with the fact that having called beforehand to ask if they could do a vegetarian afternoon tea for my dining companion, the resultant sandwiches were delightful. That exemplifies just how attentive and helpful the staff were. Faultless service, but warm and welcoming – just like a good cup of tea really.
Amongst other things I had been told to look out for the most unusual chicken sandwich, cut into interesting shapes and with the edges rolled in crushed nuts. It tickled my palate like no other sandwich for many a year. The scones were still warm from the oven, and came with a generous helpings of thick Guernsey cream, and the best Guernsey butter, of course. The difficult choice was to a have plain scone or one with fruit, so I had one of each!
I have to be honest – I do get a tad jaded. Going out to restaurants to check out their latest offerings is really great fun, and I am gaining weight at an alarming rate, but on most occasions we taste the food, film it and photograph it, and we set off on our way. On this occasion the magic of afternoon tea beckoned and we scoffed the lot. There was barley a crumb left, and the whole experience was just fabulous, although I was a tad wounded by the volume of it all. A little confession here – we did actually crack a rather nice bottle of Lanson bubbly, just to wash down the scones, sandwiches, cakes and macaroons, of course, and we did stay longer than planned, but I don’t recall why….
Whether it’s a hot summer afternoon on the Duke of Richmond’s terrace, or a warm and cosy afternoon by an open fire, afternoon tea at The Duke of Richmond takes some beating. In fact, get a room afterwards and stay over for their amazing breakfast. They’ve invited us to try brunch sometime, but we’re resting up before we take that on….!