Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Afternoon Tea at the Criterion


After a long work stint away from London, I was back and was quickly snapped up by a friend of mine for a spot of afternoon tea. Leaving it to her to choose the venue and time, I found myself entering the doors of The Criterion.

Décor was wonderfully resplendent in hues of gold and ivory shimmering away where the light hits. We were seated and waited for our afternoon tea to arrive.

The afternoon tea menu consists of a selection of finger sandwiches, scones, preserves and clotted cream as well as homemade traditional cakes, tarts and sweets.


Our platter arrived and we tucked in to the sandwiches. The bread was a tad dry. Sandwiches were average.


I absolutely love scones and we moved on to the scones with strawberry preserves and clotted cream. This was disappointing with exclamation marks. The strawberry preserves was a mix of cubes of jelly with strawberry. This is certainly not a good quality preserve to me, and that is not even starting on the clotted cream yet.


Does this look like clotted cream to you? It had the consistency of hard butter and I have definitely have had clotted cream many times before. We were really puzzled and actually flagged a waiter to enquire. The waiter went back to check and came back with this comment. “The chef says that this is clotted cream and he knows because he is British.”

Well, excuse me but Mr. Chef saying that he is British does not mean that is the stamp of confirmation. I may not be British but I have had enough afternoon teas in me that I should know how clotted cream should be?

Not impressed at all. Moving on, I started to eat my crème brulee. Things just got worse, the bottom half of the crème brulee was actually still in liquid form. This crème brulee is only half cooked!

Should I still be eating?


Next came the cakes and tarts and this would have been fine except that they definitely did not taste fresh anymore. You could see tiny water droplets on the cakes and tarts as this has been sitting in the fridge under too cold a temperature and taken out into room temperature. The tart base was soggy, the cakes were soggy.

Considering that we each paid over £30 for this afternoon tea, I left sorely disappointed with the chef’s comment still ringing in my ears.

Seriously, does it look like clotted cream to you?

Criterion Restaurant, 224 Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 9HP

Criterion Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. Wow, unforgiveable comment from the waiter regarding the chef knowing because he is British... presumably implying that guests who aren't British shouldn't question?
    That's a BLOODY big black mark, that is.

    I used to visit the Criterion many years back, it served decent food and the set menu was good value and of course, the decor was impressive. Service was decent too.

  2. What a terrible afternoon tea experience you had! That certainly doesn't look like any clotted cream I've ever had...

  3. this really does not sound very convincing. for 30 pounds, oh my god! I am also not British but this doesn't look like clotted cream to me either!

  4. That 'British' comment is outrageous!

    Have just been searching afternoon teas for the past 1.5 hours, and the prices are unbelievable at the big hotels, especially as it's Christmas. Seems to be £40-50pp for most places at the moment.

    I'll let you know how I get on at Bea's =)

  5. Kavey - I know..I guess Criterion is not the place to go for afternoon tea.

    Su-Lin & Ute - Someone said that it could have been clotted cream that has been overchurned. Have no idea!

    Jen - wow! xmas afternoon teas prices are sky high....have a FAB tea time at BEAS!

  6. I had dinner at the Criterion during Restaurant Festival and quite liked it but sad to hear you didn't have a good experience :( I have seen clotted cream that looks like that before, kinda more like ice cream texture! Maybe just the way they made it?

  7. Catty -'ll have to tell me more bout this ice cream texture clotted cream. =)
    But for over 30 quid pp, think there are better places for afternoon tea, where I won't get half baked creme brulee....


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