Thursday 7 June 2012

Review: Bond & Brook, Mayfair


Afternoon Tea

From time to time I get asked to go along and check out a new tea venture. It's always very nice to be asked but between work, trips abroad and life in general it rarely seems to work out. So I was pretty pleased to be invited to visit the Bond & Brook restaurant in Fenwick on Bond Street recently, and on a day that I was in London, not working and, joy of joys, already in the area. The fact that they had a new pairing with Tea Palace - whose cafe closure I have lamented previously - just made it all the more interesting.

Bond and Brook afternoon tea

I was the first to arrive which, as pretty much anyone who knows me will confirm, is not the norm. I realised I hadn't been upstairs in Fenwick for years and that since I was last there a major makeover had taken place. Gone was the 1950s department store feel: now the space is white, light, airy and ever so slightly intimidating - but considering that I hate clothes shopping and do at least ninety percent of it online it is probably unsurprising that this temple to fashion was a bit overwhelming for me. The chic white vibe is also very much in evidence in Bond & Brook. The space is dominated by a rather beautiful elliptical pewter bar, behind which is a white bookcase filled with tomes devoted to fashion. There is a selection of mid-century-modern furniture and everything looks crisp and glamorous. I was glad I'd made the effort to put on a dress as my usual jeans and trainers would have felt very out of place. Clearly this wasn't going to be somewhere you'd come to slob out and drink a quick cuppa.

Bond and Brook afternoon tea mirrors

I needn't have worried about being the first there as Gavin from Rhubarb, the top-end caterers who run the restaurant, chatted with me and soon made sure I had a glass of champagne in hand. Once the other tea enthusiasts had arrived we all sat down to a rather delicious afternoon tea accompanied by a selection of five of Tea Palace's offerings. As we sampled the sandwiches, cakes and scones, Tara, Tea Palace's founder, guided us through a fantastic selection of their wares. We sampled a Darjeeling, a Keemun, an Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong, a Sencha and a Jasmine Silver Needle white tea. Each one was absolutely lovely: clean, crisp, perfectly brewed and full of flavour. These teas were a world away from the kind of dust-filled teabags you find in supermarkets. I don't want to get too fancy but there is something about tasting a series of really good teas that is enough to make you swear off the kind of rubbish that most Brits drink for life - if you haven't already of course. Once we had sampled each tea we got to choose a brew to savour throughout the rest of our visit: I opted for the Jasmine Silver Needle as, although I usually prefer a black tea with cake, the delicate taste of the white tea was just fantastic.

Bond and Brook Tea Palace

The food was more than a match for the tea with dainty finger sandwiches, French Fancies, a lovely moist brownie, delicious fruited scones with jam and clotted cream and one of the best Battenbergs I have ever tasted. The afternoon was made all the more enjoyable by sharing my table-for-two with Leanne from Tea Talk Magazine. It was so nice to find a kindred spirit who, like me, loved tea but would rather go without than drink a cup of bog-standard splosh.

Bond and Brook afternoon tea

All in all it was a very enjoyable afternoon sampling some really excellent tea and food. Bond & Brook certainly doesn't fall into the category of everyday tearoom - at £17.50 a head for their afternoon tea it's probably more of a treat for everyone except the wealthy ladies-that-lunch that I suspect make up a good portion of their clientele (please note that we had a taster afternoon tea rather than the whole kit and caboodle). But to go here it wouldn't have to be the ultra-special kind of occasion that results in a trip to one of the posh hotels either. Bond & Brook falls somewhere in the middle. In many ways it reminds me of Tea Palace's own cafe that used to be in Notting Hill - and I was certainly disappointed when they closed. Aside from the quality of the goods on offer my favourite thing was the feeling of serenity - especially given its location just off Oxford Street - and I can well imagine heading there with a friend I hadn't seen for a while or when I think that afternoon tea can act as a substitute for the restaurant dinner I can't be bothered to hang around for. Either way, I will definitely be returning. And with such a central location there's every likelihood that you Londoners will be passing that way too. If you're in the mood for a glamorous and delicious afternoon treat look no further.

Bond and Brook afternoon tea


  1. Nice post. Thank you
    for taking the time to publish this information very useful! I’m still waiting
    for some interesting thoughts from your side in your next post thanks!

  2. The best Battenbergs you have ever tasted? I am there!

    1. I'd say they were neck and neck with The Wolsley. It's funny because I always thought I didn't really like Battenbergs - but then I realised it was just that I didn't like the Mr Kipling ones!

  3. What a joy to read. Tea is a doer in you.

  4. Spent time touring around your blog. Congrats interesting, inspiring and encouraging.