Its a funny thing really, today's Afternoon Tea review that I have for you, as you can clearly tell from the title, is a tad different from your usual experience...yet despite that I think this is actually one of the most delightful afternoon teas I have ever been to...& that's saying something!
I had a friend come stay with me so tried to source an Afternoon Tea for us to enjoy that wasn't too far. I was delighted to find another offering in Henley, where I have already reviewed two afternoon teas, The Red Lion & The Hotel Du Vin. Both were really lovely & I was very intrigued when I read about this slightly different Afternoon Tea with an Indian twist offered by the Spice Merchant so I booked it straight away.
The Spice Merchant is an Indian Restaurant located just opposite the river in Henley. We arrived on time for our booking at 12pm and were greeted by the very friendly manager who took us to our table which had been set up for our Jasmin's Tea Party. We got lucky I think as we had the place to ourselves for our tea before a large party of diners came as we were leaving!
On the table we found a selection of all the loose teas on offer, presented very prettily in adorably labelled glass spice jars. We were encouraged to take our time & sniff each of the teas, of which there was an intriguing variety, to see what our preference was. You can try more than one if something is not to your liking which is also really nice. After we had selected our tea choice, this was then brought to us brewed in beautiful silver pots & served in pretty patterned glass Indian teacups.
It didn't take long for our food to arrive & to say we were excited to dive right in was an understatement! The Afternoon Tea is brought out on a two tiered platter, with the savories on the bottom & the sweet treats on top.
Our waiter took the time to explain each item to us & everything is made fresh by the chef. Starting with the savouries, you are served bite size portions of each dish & whilst the portions might seem very small, I actually found them to be perfect! Each dish we tried was literally an explosion of flavour & cooked so well. We started with the Sag Alloo skewers which are served as two mini patties & very scrummy.
Then we moved onto the Black Pepper Chicken Tikka & Lollipop Chicken, both were AMAZING & so full of flavour with the chicken nice & succulent. I'm a huge fan of Paneer so I was very excited for the Chilli Paneer with peppers & onions & it did not disappoint. And then finishing with the Lamb Samosa & Chicken wrap in which a paratha is used in place of a tortilla...seriously it was incredible.
I asked before hand about dietary requirements etc & was informed that there is a vegetarian menu available as well which is great. Also the manager was very honest when I inquired about the meat, stating that it was all Halal but they did also sometimes source their red meat from a non halal butcher but would always notify their customers if this was the case. But just something to make note of if you do go :)
Now that our bellies were filled with all that savoury goodness, we were now ready to tackle that top shelf! Starting with the mango lassi which is served in adorable glass bottles, these were very refreshing & cleansed the palette nicely.
Moving onwards we then tried the Gulab Jaman which is one of my favourite Indian sweets & are small milky sponges soaked in sugary syrup...heart attack food basically haha! But when its in bite sized portions such as this its no issue eh? And these were SO...GOOD.
Additional sweet treats included a Bombay Mess, obviously a twist on the classic Eton Mess containing mango with crushed meringue & cream, as well as mini Macaroons, which always go down a treat with me, a Passion fruit Meringue Tart & a Chocolate Brownie....PHEW!
Now I must mention the scones that are served with the tea. These are stated to be freshly baked & I'm pretty sure that these were definitely...not! To be honest they looked just like the ones you get in the supermarket. This may be an issue for the scone lover but seeing as I don't really go for the scones during Afternoon Tea anyway & plus we had enjoyed the main part of the tea so much....this wasn't really a big deal for me.
During our tea we had our pots topped up whenever we required, with the flavour changed a couple of times. The staff were very attentive & checked up on us occasionally to see if we were enjoying ourselves & I think it was pretty evident that we were! We couldn't finish all the delights so what was leftover was kindly packaged up for us to take home.
The price for the Not So Traditional Afternoon Tea at The Spice Merchant is £19.95 per person....say what?! An insanely good price for what was for us a really enjoyable & different experience. I've also noticed that they've recently changed up the booking and request a £15 deposit per person to secure reservation. I already can't wait to go back! I definitely recommend you give this a go, especially if you are wanting something a bit different!
Thanks as always for reading, you can catch all of my Afternoon Tea Reviews HERE. Till next time!
Lotsa love to ya!