If there’s one ‘free from’ foodie place you need to visit in London, this is it. Big statement, but I couldn’t love the afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason more. A real treat, it’s an experience from start to finish and is something that does feel special. Lots of my friends now live in London, so at the end of one of our weekends, my bestie Caroline and I treated ourselves to afternoon tea – we actually enjoyed it so much that a couple of weeks later we decided to celebrate absolutely nothing and book ourselves back in for afternoon tea upon my new trip – why not ey! Who needs a reason to celebrate when there’s cake involved?!
So what makes it so great? Let’s start with the menu. There’s a vegan menu along with a dairy free and a gluten free which is great and meant I could just cross reference but of course I told our waitress about me and after she checked with the chef, told me there was no problem with combining the two. Worth a note that I did let them know in advance when we booked about my requirements, I think that’s a necessity when booking free from just so they can be ready to cater for dietary restrictions.
I tried a few fruit teas since that’s what you do at afternoon tea right? They are so great at refills and you can order different one’s every time which is definitely needed when there’s so many to choose from. Unfortunately, I’m more of a coffee gal – fruit tea tastes like soap to me so, technically I had afternoon coffee – a girl’s gotta get her caffeine hit somewhere right?
When your afternoon tea arrives, It feels like you’re little Princesses, as they ask to introduce you to each layer of your afternoon tea. Yes sir, you may tell me where my sandwiches reside – and may I please double check this is all dairy and gluten free to satisfy my paranoia please?
Let’s break it into layers of the cake stand, let’s be real and admit the sandwiches are everyone’s least favourite bit where we all spend a polite amount of time on before face planting the scones? Just me…? Not the case with these sandwiches my friends, in true Fortnum’s style, the sandwiches, as with everything, are so yummy. Our favourite was the coronation chicken – truly unbelievable. Both times we’ve been, we were offered more sandwiches and asked for just coronation chicken ones and were way too excitable when we were presented with a plate full of chicken sandwiches. Worth a note; the gluten free bread was really light and soft, thumbs up from me.
Onto the scones; I’m almost certain if I were Paul Hollywood, I’d be giving the bakers of these babies a handshake. Crumbly and soft yet light, they’re the best free from scones I’ve had. I’ve had other dairy and gluten free scones that are almost rubber like, but I’m happy to note that these still almost have layers of crumble and you can definitely taste the shortness of them (oioi GCSE food tech terminology) which is super rare of free from scones. (Also – it’s dairy free spread featured – I too almost had a heart attack when I saw it near my beloved scones. I didn’t eat it anyway since butter and jam together on a scone is a terrible crime in my mind.)
And I need to talk about the jam. Oh the jam. Never before did I think there was such a thing as luxury jam. Not until these strawberry and blueberry jams – they’re so good at Fortnum’s with making sure that things are really equal in terms of what you get of a normal afternoon tea. For example, Caroline got a lemon curd with hers, but since that has milk in, I got extra jam (W.I.N.) It’s also great that they’re really aware of ingredients, it gives so much confidence when ordering. How many times have you ordered something dairy free, then been served some butter on the side? Fuming.
But also; it’s so wonderfully decadent that at the end, the staff give you a Fortnum’s bag full of the jam pots plus any left overs of your afternoon tea in a beautiful little box. What a nice touch and, since we usually do Fortnum on a Sunday lunchtime before my train back home to Leeds, I have my left over treats on a Sunday night when I’m back tucked up in bed watching Harry Potter.
Sweet treat wise, you’d be forgiven if you assumed that because it’s free from, the treats wouldn’t be as great. Well, think again my friend. I had a blue macaroon – a Fortnum’s blue macaroon. Unreal.
Different both times I’ve been, the treats are really tummy and varied; from different sponges to yogurt and a cream layered cake, there’s lots of treats to try. They were so stunning that when they brought us the afternoon tea, I double checked that they were all dairy and gluten free.
I think it’s so great that when I compared mine to Caroline’s ‘normal’ afternoon tea, that I didn’t feel at all that I was missing out. Often, its easy to compare how little (or how bland) mine is compared to others, so having a full tiered cake stand full of delicious sandwiches, scones and cakes really is incredible and worth the higher price tag.
A true treat, I can’t wait to go back to celebrate the next non- occasion! Have you ever been to Fortnum & Mason for a free from afternoon tea? Let me know where your favourite free from afternoon tea is from!