Middle Eight

Review: Middle Eight Afternoon Tea

Review: Middle Eight Afternoon Tea

There’s nothing middling about Middle Eight’s afternoon tea. By Helen Down

Middle Eight is a relative newcomer to the Covent Garden hotel scene. Newer, still, is its afternoon tea, which – thanks to nabbing former Bake Off: The Professionals semi-finalist, Clanny Rodrigues – delivers perfect pastries that wouldn’t feel out of place at Claridges.

In keeping with its theatreland surroundings, everything is music-themed. So the oh-so-moist ‘Strike a Chord’ almond cake is served with a chocolate guitar; the ‘Hazelnut Harmony’ éclair is topped with piano keys; and the pistachio macron – who knew crispy and chewy could co-exist in such harmony? – hosts an elegantly piped treble clef. Alongside citrus pannacotta with ruby swirls of blood orange jelly, and a wonderfully sharp lemon meringue pie, there’s something for every sweet tooth.

But it would be poor form to dive straight into pudd. So, first up, an overture of finger sandwiches: butter-soft smoked salmon with a note of lemon; a sensational veggie option where basil meets humous meets charred veg meets onion bread; and a creamy, adroitly spiced coronation chicken sarnie fit for a king.

Working our way up the ladder of plated treats, next up: scones – little fluffy clouds plastered generously with clotted cream and jam preserve. No need to reinvent the wheel here. Dining with a gluten and dairy-free friend, I felt guilty looking at his flat scones. But he was delighted with his allergy-friendly versions, reporting the vegan cream to be better than the real deal. Five stars for accommodating dietary issues with such aplomb.

No such experience would be complete without a comprehensive selection of teas. And Middle Eight did not disappoint with its four-page Asia-wide tea menu, featuring one outlier: a bespoke Covent Garden blend (aka Chinese Yunnan, peppermint and cornflowers). Meanwhile, caffeine refuseniks can choose from a multitude of floral and herbal preparations.

Munching away on inventions devised by a talented pastry chef is a luxurious way to pass an afternoon. But the perfect afternoon tea entails a hattrick of food, service and atmosphere. And when we visited, the latter didn’t quite match up to the opulence of its iconic cousins. Then again, if you’re after a more minimalist twist on this quintessential English institution, Middle Eight delivers a bravura performance.

£45 per person, or £55 including a glass of Prosecco
66 Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5BX
Nearest tube: Holborn