Friday, 6 April 2018

Blast off at Skylon's Gravi-tea space themed afternoon tea

Themed London afternoon teas: Gravi-tea space-themed afternoon tea at Skylon, Southbank Centre, London


Calling all wannabe astronauts and afternoon tea addicts (that's a venn diagram with a very niche crossover...). There's a shiny new afternoon tea about to lift off in London and it's all about that space, 'bout that space, no trouble (#sorrynotsorry, but when I have an earworm, I believe in sharing the pain).

Gravi-tea is the punny name given to Skylon's new space-themed offering. It launched in early April 2018 and will be on the menu for the foreseeable future... to infinity and beyond, some might say.

I'm quite often sceptical about themed afternoon teas. If they don't commit to the theme - I mean really commit - they can be a right old letdown. On the other hand, others pull off their theme very well - and Gravi-tea can definitely be counted as a successful mission.

Themed London afternoon teas: Gravi-tea space-themed afternoon tea at Skylon, Southbank Centre, London
Afternoon tea modelled by @Robberrazzi, who was Instagramming the whole thing.

First things first, it's a very pretty afternoon tea. Think purple, sparkly, space age. All the beautiful, shiny things. You'll ooh and aah as it comes to your table, and then you'll take all the photos before you finally blast off.

It's served on the traditional three tiers, which is the only right way to serve afternoon tea. They don't quite go as far as serving it on a rocket-shaped tea stand (Skylon: if you're reading this, you can have that idea for free), but it's good to see things done properly.

Starting with the sandwiches, you've got your usual selection of ham and cheese, salmon, chicken, and egg mayo. Sliced into fingers with the crusts off, the portion is generous, the sandwiches themselves surprisingly filling.

Next tier up are the scones. The menu claims a mixture of raisin and plain, but ours are all raisin, which is not a problem at all. The preserves are served in mini Wilkin & Co jars, two marmalades, a raspberry jam and a blackcurrant jam. The cream appears in what can only be described as a mini saucepan, not an object I would readily associate with space, but perhaps there's more to this astronaut malarkey than I thought. Either way it's cute, but I'd advise against pairing marmalade and cream on the same scone - the sweet/bitter combination just doesn't work.

Themed London afternoon teas: Gravi-tea space-themed afternoon tea at Skylon, Southbank Centre, London
The Jupiter Cake, and the mysterious cream saucepans

Wobbling boldly next to the scones is the Jupiter Cake. Now this is the only real flaw in the whole afternoon tea - the menu doesn't tell you what each item is, beyond the space age names. Best described as a milky jelly with a white chocolate ring, it slides down no problem and we're on to the almost-too-pretty-to-eat top tier.

Let's just take another second to admire it before we tuck in:

Themed London afternoon teas: Gravi-tea space-themed afternoon tea at Skylon, Southbank Centre, London

OK, and begin. The Galaxy Macarons (bottom right) are hypnotically pretty, but their citrus orange flavour comes as a real surprise - although not an unpleasant one - underneath that innocent lilac exterior.

We can't quite put our fingers on the flavour of the cream inside those Cosmos Mini Choux buns, deciding on something like passion fruit or mango. Again, it's unexpected but tasty.

The Rocks Of The Universe are by far the richest element of the afternoon tea, dark chocolate shells filled with some sort of a raspberry ganache. They disappear quickly, leaving us wondering whether there really was popping candy inside or if it's all just a trick of the mind.

Themed London afternoon teas: Gravi-tea space-themed afternoon tea at Skylon, Southbank Centre, London
Galaxy Macarons

Last but not least are the Galactic Cupcakes, a taste of good old-fashioned home baking. That perfectly coiffeured icing turns out to be cream cheese icing, which is a risky choice. It makes a change from the sugar overload, but we both agree that we would have preferred buttercream icing instead.

Themed London afternoon teas: Gravi-tea space-themed afternoon tea at Skylon, Southbank Centre, London
Galactic Cupcakes

Once you've eaten your way through the solar system (or if you pause halfway through - afternoon tea is, after all, a marathon not a sprint), take time to have a look round Skylon. I'd heard of it but never quite worked out where it was before. It's right on top of Southbank Centre, with an entrance opposite Las Iguanas, and another inside Southbank Centre itself. It's a rather swish place, all sleek decor and high ceilings, but the absolute highlight is the view it offers over the Thames. I reckon it'd be a rather nice place to head for cocktails on a summer evening - who's in?

Themed London afternoon teas: Gravi-tea space-themed afternoon tea at Skylon, Southbank Centre, London
The Jupiter Cake

Gravi-tea at Skylon, Royal Festival Hall, London, SE1 8XX. It costs £25 per person (very reasonable for afternoon tea round these parts, especially when you consider the view it comes with), and you'll need to book ahead.


Themed London afternoon teas: Gravi-tea space-themed afternoon tea at Skylon, Southbank Centre, London
The gorgeous setting of Skylon. I was too busy stuffing my face to take a photo of the view from the window.

Get your fill of afternoon tea on the afternoon tea section of this blog, and follow me on Twitter and Instagram for up to date pictures.

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