|The Bacchus Spring Quintessential High Tea, photographed by Peter Wallis|
Spring has already sprung at Bacchus with the launch of their Spring Quintessential High Tea, partnering with the most recognisable names in sparkling and champagne to deliver a high tea experience fit for a royal.
I was delighted to be invited to experience the new high tea menu – I had never been to Bacchus before, but had heard wonderful things about their degustation dining (maybe one day!). Settled on the Podium Level of Rydges South Bank, Bacchus, the restaurant is a beautiful space with soft down lighting and comfortable seating – it doesn’t feel stuffy, or over-fancy, or pretentious, but that is what makes the experience so excellent. The attention to detail and commitment to quality is impeccable, and the service was warm and friendly throughout. The tables were set with spotless bone china, imported from England and the same crockery used at The Goring Hotel in London, where the late Queen Mother enjoyed taking high tea.
|Photographed by Peter Wallis|
The tradition of tea in this manner is very English, of course, and the Bacchus menu provides a succinct explanation of how high tea came about:
“Tea consumption increased dramatically during the early nineteenth century and it is around this time that Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is said to have complained of ‘having that sinking feeling’ during the late afternoon. The solution for the Duchess was a pot of tea and a light snack, taken privately in her boudoir during the afternoon. Later, friends were invited to join her in rooms at Woburn Abbey and this summer practice proved so popular that the Duchess continued it when she returned to London, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for ‘tea and a walking in the fields’. Other social hostesses quickly picked up on the idea and the practice became respectable enough to move it into the drawing room. Before long all of fashionable society was sipping tea and nibbling sandwiches in the middle of the afternoon.”
While the five Bacchus high teas announced for Spring remain true to the traditional English tea – including ribbon sandwiches and fluffy scones with jam and cream – there are other new and exciting elements of sweet and savoury that are all made in-house, like the key lime, chocolate, and meringue tartlet, and the black brioche with chicken and celery.
|Much less glamourous photography by me, but this was the Spring High Tea
adapted for my dietary requirements – vegetarian and a nut allergy
The selection of teas come not from England, surprisingly, but from New York – Harney & Sons Fine Teas, a company begun over thirty years ago with a commitment to fine quality and distinctive blends. Three generations of Harneys now carry on the tradition, with the business still managed and owned by the family despite employing over 200 people and having grown from the original six tea blends to offering more than 300. I opted for a classic Earl Grey, but others around the table spoke highly of the Hot Cinnamon Spice, Bacchus Bespoke Blend, and Pomegranate Oolong.
The Quintessential High Tea is available every Tuesday to Sunday afternoon at Bacchus, and those with dietary requirements can be accommodated at no extra cost (hooray!) if requested 72 hours prior to the reservation. Unlike some menus, dietary requirements are not limiting– I am a vegetarian and have a nut allergy, but I enjoyed a range of treats including marinated vegetables on flatbread, decadent fruit skewers, and chocolate brownies. Read the full Spring High Teas Menu here or visit the Bacchus website to book online.