Ok, so yesterday Lorna and I went to the Oxo Tower in London to sample their Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Not Afternoon Tea....now that's not a typo on my part....it is indeed not an afternoon tea, and that is how its advertised.
I've taken my time before writing this post...thinking long and hard about our experience. When we first left the restaurant yesterday we were both very disappointed by our afternoon. One thing we learnt is that Lorna and I are quite traditional when it comes to afternoon tea. We don't mind the odd bit of theme here or there....but ultimately we want tea to be tea....and it should include some tea to drink!!
The Oxo Tower offers something slightly different....their Charlie and the Chocolate Factory experience is based on their Not Afternoon Tea dessert plates with some themed extras. So, from the beginning we knew that we weren't getting the normal afternoon tea experience....and we thought we were ok with this.
When having this experience you get to pick from one of four dessert plates on offer...each comes with a matching cocktail. There is Penny's Herb Garden, Chocolate Bubbles, Picnic Berries and All Iced Up. Lorna opted for the chocolately experience and I went with the picnic option.....
Now, to begin our Charlie and the Chocolate Factory experience we were presented with a Neapolitan Hot Shot each.....
These could either be slurped up with a straw or dipped into with small spoons. They were tasty and mousse like....and there is a little surprise in there for you.
You can then tuck into your dessert plate....
Lorna had the Chocolate Bubbles plate...containing some small macaroons, a dollop of honeycomb cream, sponge adorned with truffles and pavlova. The plate looked very pretty and was decorated with pieces of chocolate and honeycomb.
I had the Picnic Berries plate....which featured a chocolate and raspberry sandwich, strawberry and champagne mousse, popcorn ice cream with blueberry compote and a delightful piece of cheesecake. Oh and an odd little butterfly cake on the side of the plate! My favourite bit was the popcorn ice cream which had a wonderful toasted flavour.
Now the desserts were ok (they looked amazing)....some bits were really lovely, but other bits were....a bit odd really. We didn't have a menu to refer, so a lot of the eating was guess work! Neither of us could have told you that Lorna had honeycomb cream on her plate!
After we'd finished these plates we were presented with our last Charlie and the Chocolate Factory treats....
The drink is a Snozberry slurp and quite frankly tasted like it looks (odd!). The candyfloss was nice...each a different flavour. But the marshmallow twirl was just weird...it had a pleasant enough flavour, but the texture was very soft and sticky.
In the little box are a selection of "Children Chocolates" to take home as a treat. Each chocolate is named after one of the children in the book.
Now as I said this was billed as a "Not Afternoon Tea" from the very beginning, so we cannot criticise the lack of sandwiches, scones or tea....but there were some other elements missing too. The setting of the Oxo Tower is very much like a canteen....it was incredibly loud in there with the clatter of plates and glasses and your fellow diners (who were sat very close to you!). Its not exactly the environment that Lorna and I usually enjoy. There was live music to entertain us....but it was so loud to drown out the sound of the chatter and plates that Lorna and I had to practically shout at each other once it started! In addition, unfortunately the service wasn't very good either...we sat around waiting an awful lot and no one explained the afternoon tea menu to us. It was a busy service....and this meant that the servers had little time for pleasantries.
Out of interest I asked the two ladies sat at the table next to us what they thought of their experience....the long pause before they answered said it all really! In the end they said they had enjoyed the dessert plates, but there was at least one thing on each plate that neither of them liked.
So the big lesson that Lorna and I learnt from this whole affair is that we like Afternoon Tea....proper afternoon tea complete with tea, sandwiches, scones, pastries, great service and atmosphere. Somewhere where we can chatter away without hearing the conversation from the people next to us.
If you want a fancy dessert plate that looks quite spectacular then this is definitely a good option for you. The basic "Not Afternoon Tea" costs £24.50 each (that's one plate of four desserts plus a cocktail), if you fancy opting for the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory experience that is £42.50 each (which in our opinion is very expensive for what you actually get).
Thanks for popping by today, we hope to see you again soon.
Rachel & Lorna