Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley: A Review

August 19, 2013

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Being a fashion and food blogger, I was excited to check out The Berkeley Hotel’s Fashionista Afternoon Tea, the seemingly perfect fusion of my two greatest passions. “Prêt-à-Portea” as they call it is a hot ticket in London and I had to book a weekend reservation 2 1/2 months in advance. I had high hopes for the afternoon tea and sadly the best part of the experience was the glass (or 2) of Laurent-Perrier. The menu features creative interpretations of ready-to-wear collections from designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Alexander McQueen, Tory Burch and Prada. Although some of the cakes were beautiful to look at and intricately designed, the taste just didn’t cut it and being some who loves and appreciates good quality sweets, this was a deal-breaker for me.

IMG 36561 Prêt à Portea at The Berkeley: A Review

My biggest complaint with the tea was that that the cakes, chocolates, canapés and savory bites looked and tasted like they had been (gasp) frozen and defrosted. Is it too much to ask that the food be prepared fresh? I realize that this is a themed tea, but The Berkeley is a five-star hotel and the food should meet certain standards regardless.

Everything seemed mass produced and it appeared the restaurant was more interested in quantity than quality. The waiters kept refilling guests’ plates with the same items over and over again. At the risk of sounding too American, it was like a bottomless Afternoon Tea. I would have much rather had one serving of fresh pastries than four servings of mediocre ones.

IMG 3672 Prêt à Portea at The Berkeley: A Review{ Jason Wu inspired coconut “Carolyn” hatbox shaped cake bag sandwiched in retro leopard print chocolate ~ a beautiful work of art, but the cake was dry and stale, and the fondant was crusted }

The savories left a lot to be desired. The roasted vegetable tart (below) could have been great, but it was too cold (not room temperature, but cold in a refrigerated sense).

IMG 3664 Prêt à Portea at The Berkeley: A Review{ savories: roasted vegetable tart, chicken liver mouse, melon and feta press, white gazpacho }

Overall, the vibe of the place was quite informal and inexperienced, and was not chic enough to match the fashionista theme. I am not sure if we were missing something, but our server didn’t even offer us tea – we had to ask for it. Pretty much you just sit down and they serve you your sandwiches and cakes immediately and then leave you alone until you ask for the bill (and tea, apparently). It didn’t help we heard complaints from some ladies sitting next to us. A bunch of nothing extraordinary‘s mumbled in British accents. Enough said.

IMG 3674 Prêt à Portea at The Berkeley: A Review{ a Manolo Blahnik inspired slingback chocolate biscuit heel with baby blue icing topped with pearls }

IMG 3671 Prêt à Portea at The Berkeley: A Review{ Jonathan Saunders ombré polka dot lemon and orange blossom dome shift dress set on a short bread biscuit ~ again, pretty to look but not pleasant to eat… the yellow and orange puffs had the consistency of a gel rather than a cream }

I must admit the presentation was lovely and I adored the stunning Waterford china specially created for Prêt-à-Portea. Of all of the sweets, the best tasting one was the Dolce & Gabbana themed-treat (below)Sicilian chic pistachio green and vanilla striped pannacotta dress topped with a chocolate ringIt was an authentic take on some of my favorite Italian flavors, and the balance of crunch and cream worked well.

IMG 3676 e1376905305217 Prêt à Portea at The Berkeley: A Review

As for the tea-sandwiches, they were mediocre at best. My husband compared them to sandwiches he gets during his lunch hour at Pret. I realize everyone loves Pret, but really?

IMG 3662 e1376905876240 Prêt à Portea at The Berkeley: A Review{ tea sandwiches: egg mayo, salmon, roast beef, cheese & pickle, cucumber & cream cheese }

Before we moved to London, my Mom threw me a sensational Afternoon Tea bridal shower at the Bee & Thistle Inn in Connecticut. The tea served across the pond at the Inn beat this by a mile. I expected more from The Berkeley and I will be continuing my quest for a proper Afternoon Tea in London.

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  • ciaolinda

    This post is beautiful and the desserts look spectacular. Your photography is outstanding!
    Yes, we did have a perfectly divine Tea Party for your bridal shower at the Bee and Thistle Inn and I will forever cherish this unforgettable afternoon with you !! xoxo

    • Janelle

      Me too! And they did an incredible job with the food… very authentic!

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