These days, with our listless attitude to custom, we are constantly searching for new ways of enjoying traditional fare. Various pies and puddings are revamped to the point where they’re only a mere remnant of the original. Any imaginative, bubble-bursting concept will do – for example, a few months ago I had the pleasure of eating ‘Fish and Chips’ served as ‘thinly cut strips of potato on a bed of salmon.’ So naturally, we were pleasantly enthused to try the new Afternoon Tea served in the restaurant of the St. Martin’s Lane Hotel.
Launched this September as an experiential alternative to the traditional serve, the afternoon tea is a collaborative effort between St. Martin’s Lane’s Asia de Cuba restaurant and east-end design collective, Luna and Curious – who specialise in ceramics and other fine objects. Cafécito & Afternoon Tea is a delightful affair in which the guest is introduced to the mystique ambiance of a Cuban teahouse through a fusion of both Asian and Cuban inspired treats.
Upon being seated we are presented with a beautifully handmade Cuban cigar box, made by Luna and Curious, which we’ll soon find out contains all the relevant paraphernalia for the afternoon (utensils, menu etc.) And after ruminating on the tea list, our cocktails arrive. How do you start your Saturday afternoons?
Of course, I had to have the Old Cuban Martini – a magnificent blend of rum, black grapes, fresh mint, lime, elderflower cordial and champagne. I’ve never been to Cuba, but I assure myself that this is the taste of Havana at dusk. My amiga on the other hand orders the Passionate About Tea with Appleton rum, Passoa Liquor, lime, Crème de Peche, and passion fruit. She signifies its brilliance with a sound only heard after the second sip of a good cocktail.
After selecting our teas – I had the rooibos – we tuck in to the delicious selection of savoury treats which include, Cubano pressed sandwich with BBQ pulled pork, beef and vegetable empanadas with Caribbean hot sauce, hot & sour chicken & avocado spring roll and savoury scones with Mojito butter. A surprising cross-continental blend that works magic on the palate. Leading into the afternoon’s sweet treats, we indulged in Asia de Cuba’s renowned mini Mexican doughnuts filled with butterscotch sauce, banana spring rolls filled with white chocolate and coconut ganache and key lime pie topped with a soft meringue all served on a three-tiered stand.
The inventive fusion of lively Cuban cuisine and exotic Asian flavours is the central appeal of this wonderful concept at Asia de Cuba. It is also worth noting that all the by-gone era inspired crockery is made by Luna and Curious, and for a visual glutton like myself, it makes all the difference in adding atmospheric charm.
The Luna & Curious Cafécito & Afternoon Tea is served daily from 12:30pm – 4:30pm, and is priced at £25, or £35 with a cocktail.