Going for gluten free afternoon tea when you’re supposed to be on a sugar free, mostly carb free diet is not exactly ideal timing. However, there was no way I was going to miss out on the chance to see Kelly and Miriam (was really sorry not to see Carly on the day too). The venue was the hip Sanderson Hotel tucked behind Goodge Street/Oxford Street for their very fun Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea.
In advance of the afternoon tea at The Sanderson Hotel, London I’d contacted the hotel to check it would also be nut free. Unfortunately I had to exchange a number of emails with them before I received a reply which reassured me that I would be catered for safely. In fact nuts are not used in any of their afternoon tea dishes (gluten free or not) but it took a number of emails to establish this as I kept receiving stock response emails without actually answering my questions.
Our table was sat out in the light and airy courtyard garden. We checked again with the waitress that we would be served gluten free afternoon tea but were slightly alarmed when the waitress questioned if we could eat fish or ham in response to our questions on being served gluten free options. Not comforted we would be safely eating there, we asked to speak to the manager who did firmly reassure us that everything served to us would be both gluten and nut free.
The major attraction of this gluten free afternoon tea was the styling on the Mad Hatter’s theme. It was just so special. Delicately beautiful cakes. The tiny carrots poking out of green shoots, the little pink mushrooms. The clock faces on the cakes. I loved how the sugar cubes were served from a wind up musical box which played “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. I also particularly enjoyed the sandwiches and the bread was soft and the fillings flavoursome.
The only downside for me was the scones. We were chatting too much for me to realise I’d mistakenly put clotted cream on the savoury scones. It was only a slightly strange after taste that made me question what I was eating. Despite my fundamental error I didn’t enjoy them. They crumbled like I have never seen a gluten free scone crumble before. The sweet scones were the same on the crumble front. Definitely could do better.
Gluten free afternoon tea is expensive. It’s also a slightly superfluous meal. You can’t really eat beforehand because you need to save your appetite and you’re inevitably too stuffed / overloaded in sugar to eat afterwards. So it needs to be good. The Sanderson’s gluten free afternoon tea certainly delivered (except for the scones).
While the end result was good, I do think the Sanderson hotel needs to invest some time in training their teams (both waitresses and those responding to phone/email queries) on food intolerances and allergies. Our booking contained information on the need to serve us gluten and nut free food. I would expect the wait staff to have been fully briefed in advance of our visit so they knew our dietary requirements without us needing to double check but this was not the case.
Cost: From £38 excluding service (automatically added)
Would I return?: Definitely. This was a really fun treat with good quality cakes and delicious sandwiches
Location: The Sanderson Hotel, 50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG