It’s felt unseasonably mild of late in London. So much so, that for many of us, it hasn’t felt at all festive yet. That hasn’t stopped the hoards of shoppers or party revellers from getting into the Christmas spirit, though. But if, like me, you’ve felt in need an extra dose of Christmas to really get in the mood for the festivities that lie ahead, then my suggestion is to forget the shopping. Veer away from the crowds of Knightsbridge, past the rows of beautifully tall Victorian buildings of Belgravia, until you reach a delightful little treasure: Pont St at the Belgraves hotel.
Inside,Pont Stis wonderfully kitsch and certainly very cool. It has a New York feel to its appearance, with fashionably cool floor tiles, muted colours and a mix of tables and banquettes filling the ground-level space. The restaurant has a warm and intimate feel and is versatile enough for bothbreakfast with the girlsor an evening dinner date.
Some places just have that knack of making one come over all ‘Christmassy’ and Pont St has that special something—maybe it was the low-key and relaxed vibe, or perhaps it was the luxury feel of the décor to the hotel and restaurant, but whatever the reason, visiting Pont St earlier this month on what was supposed to be a day of Christmas shopping, offered a welcome relief from the crowds and gave me that push that I needed to finally get into the Christmas spirit.
The chef at Pont St is Sophie Michell—well-known for becoming the UK’s youngest female executive chef—who introduced a festive version of Pont St’s afternoon tea menu earlier this month. The menu is available until the end of December and is filled with delicious additions and the flavours of Christmas.
There is only one way to begin an afternoon tea, and that’s with a glass of champagne. Following a glass of Veuve Cliquot (which is of course optional—£35 without or £45 with champagne) guests are brought a three-tiercake stand filled with finger sandwiches, scones and cakes. All appears traditional at first, but upon closer inspection, each tier is filled with well-thought-out seasonal items in addition to the more traditional ones.
The bite-sized savoury items resemble a selection of delicious Christmas canapés, such as the quail’s egg in a pastry base, stilton cheese balls with quince jelly(I have since attempted to make these at home), brandy pork terrine toasts and the standard smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich instead arrives with caviar on top of pumpernickel bread. There is a selection of finger sandwiches, too, such as ham, egg and cucumber.
On to the sweet selection and the sherry trifles were a highlight, but there were also miniature mince pies, chestnut and brandy macarons, seasonal cranberry and clementine éclairs and the delightful gingerbread Pramma girl. Not forgetting the homemade scones and jam with clotted cream, which is still my favourite part of any afternoon tea ritual.
After tea, I would thoroughly recommend sticking around a while longer—there’s a cosy bar near the side entrance—but before you leave, don’t miss Belgraves’s window display, featuring two gingerbread girls, mirroring those featured in the Christmas afternoon tea—only on a grander scale—created in collaboration with twins Valeria Naoleone and Stefania Naoleone, who are the owners and designers behind London-based handbag brand PRAMMA.