What makes a great afternoon tea? The food, the tea selection, the location, the theme, or exquisite crockery? Well, the Swan Shakespeare’s Globe has all that and more with its newly themed A Midsummer Night’s Dream afternoon tea inspired by the scenes of the play and worthy of the fairy queen herself, who is perfectly depicted in the special crockery illustrated by Annika Wester. Everything about this afternoon tea treat closely relates to the characters, food and drink presented in Shakespeare’s play, including the use of pea flower, the flower from which Oberon’s love potion is squeezed, and the menu even has a specially created Love Potion cocktail with Earl Grey infused gin that has a kick.
The first thing that hits you with this delicious afternoon tea is the location, the Swan Shakespeare’s Globe is literally next to the theatre, so a great spot for a drink or dinner before a show, plus it’s opposite St Paul’s Cathedral and down the river from Tate Modern, making it a perfect spot for a bite to eat if you are doing the tourist sights. So, we’ve checked off location and the theme is a given. I love that the chef had thought about the play with his menu choices, from the use of pea flower to adding apricots, which Titania feeds to Bottom when she is cast under the potion’s spell, and there are even mulberry scones, as the mulberry tree is where Pyramus and Thisbe agree to meet in the play within a play, and of course strawberries are featured with the strawberry and elderflower meringue to the incredible midsummer jam for topping the scones.
Onto the crockery. Well this gorgeous bespoke tea set designed by illustrator Annika Wester is divine, it literally has Shakespeare’s words written all over the plates, cups and even tea saucers, and the drawings of the characters are so beautiful and I love how she has incorporated in woodland life and nature. The only disappointing bit is that this tea set is just for the Swan Shakespeare’s Globe, you can buy it anywhere, here’s hoping that enough people ask and they decide to release it as it seriously is dreamy.
All that’s left is the food and tea selection, which FYI spoiler alert, was amazing. I do love an afternoon tea, I haven’t hidden that fact, but I’m particularly picky, there has to be the right mix of savoury and sweet to get high marks from me. I know I focus a lot on the cakes, but for me, a great afternoon tea is generally won on the sandwich selection, which I loved at the Swan Shakespeare’s Globe, the duck egg mayonnaise and asparagus was spot on. On to the scones, for me, the Mulberry one was nicer than the plain one, just me I like fruit added to scones, but for me, the highlight had to be the delicious clotted cream and midsummer jam, so sweet and refreshing perfect balance after the savoury sandwiches.
As always with afternoon teas in London, the selection of cakes and pastries on the top level was exquisite, my favourite being the chocolate and violet chouquettes, closely followed by the lemon and rose cake, oh and I was pretty partial to the hibiscus and apricot shot, all I can say is ease your way through this menu as it is all delicious and you are going to want to savour every last bite. But remember, if you can’t finish off all the goodies ask for them to box it up so you can enjoy at home.
Just remembered I totally forgot to gush over the special Love Potion cocktail. This obviously adds a little to the price but it is so worth it, I loved that the cocktail mix of Earl Grey infused gin, honey from the London Honey Co, blackberry puree and prosecco, topped with fresh blackberries is magically contained in a small glass bottle, served alongside a half glass of prosecco, so you can add it yourself. Be aware it is quite strong, especially if you also opt for the 90 minutes unlimited prosecco afternoon tea, which is a very reasonable £39.50 per person.
This was the first time I had visited the Swan Shakespeare’s Globe, apparently it has had a little facelift, so I can’t tell you what it looked like before, but now it really is a great place to meet with friends, whether that’s just for a drink, if it’s sunny you can sit on the outside terrace, or for dinner, the restaurant is so beautiful and eating with views over the river and looking across to St Paul’s Cathedral isn’t too shabby.