Spanish Afternoon Tea at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, Halkin Hotel

Do you remember when you were a child and you had one favourite treat that never lost its allure no matter how many times over you experienced it?

For me, living through the scorching dry heat of the Middle Eastern summers, nothing was more sought after than a flawless cold sphere of Baskin Robbins’ pistachio almond ice cream, which we found at a mall a short drive away from the apartment we lived in.

Spanish afternoon tea

Like most good parents though, mine taught me that treats were for special occasions, as rewards or as gifts and not just part of a daily routine. Indeed, treat yourself to the treat too often and it no longer feels like a treat – which is exactly what (I thought) had happened to me with afternoon tea.

luxury novelty afternoon tea

After years of indulging in this decadent dining experience during my London escapades, I was feeling a little clotted creamed out and had a recent (almost) year long hiatus from my afternoon tea habit.

Until now.

London Travel Blogger

It was inevitable, I suppose, but last week, I finally fell off the wagon with an afternoon tea invitation that promised Michelin Star dining, Chelsea Flower Show inspired floral cocktails (and mocktails) and a crater sized berth from the norm. My inner afternoon-tea addict never stood a chance.

Chelsea flower show cocktails Halkin Hotel

Afternoon Tea at Ametsa with Arzak  Instruction at the Halkin Hotel

Gone were the stacks of pillowy but predictable sandwiches and even a police sniffer dog would have failed to find any traces of scones. Now before the afternoon tea purists out there get on their high horses, I appreciate a cucumber sarnie and a blob of jam on a scone as much as the next person but I have never managed to leave a conventional afternoon tea without feeling dense and heavy in the pit of my stomach.

unique afternoon teas London

At Ametsa’s Spanish Afternoon Tea, with a selection of hot tapas style savoury bites replacing the sandwich tier and a plate of delicate petits fours substituting the scones, I walked out of the hotel, commenting on the delicacy of the flavours rather than musings about which cupboard I need to raid at home to find my strip of antacids.

Ametsa Michelin Star London

Ametsa by Arzak Instruction at the Halkin Hotel, Belgravia has earned itself a Michelin star for its contemporary take on classic Basque cuisine and they are not afraid to break all the rules when it comes to tea. We settled into the relaxed and relatively informal interiors of the Halkin Bar and Pumpkin seemed a little unimpressed that I had suggested he dress up when the environment in the bar is mellow enough to welcome you without needing crisp collars and leather loafers.

Halkin Hotel Bar

Although we were offered a glass of Cava, both of us were taken by the description of the floral cocktails, which have been launched as a limited edition special to celebrate the Chelsea Flower Show. My man is first and foremost a beer drinker so any cocktail menu that has him glancing elsewhere earns itself a nice little pat on the back as far as I’m concerned.

passion fruit mocktail

My passion fruit mocktail was so refreshing that I finished it within about two minutes and when no staff were around to judge me, I could be found poking the straw into the passion fruit trying to inhale the summer tang of the few remaining seeds. To me, passion fruit is a gift from the Gods and leaving it festering in a food waste bin was unthinkable.

afternoon tea Halkin Hotel London

My mission to become a little bit more decisive when I’m out and about was quashed royally by the seemingly never-ending tea menu but I started off with a rose-flavoured black tea (I couldn’t let the floral thing go) before ending our afternoon with the light Jasmine Pearls.

A Spanish Take on Afternoon Tea

A shot glass filled with hot pea soup gave us our first taste of Michelin starred afternoon tea with our rapidly-formed, green moustaches speaking for themselves.

Ametsa London Afternoon Tea Menu

With a plate of tapas each to follow, this afternoon tea works really well as a light lunch (with the added bonus of a guaranteed sugar rush to follow.) The exsanguinating interiors of the comfort food croquettes were balanced out nicely by the wholesome lightness of the avocado and pepper sandwich. (Amazing how much of a difference toasting the bread can make!)

tapas afternoon tea

Having recently returned from Japan, anything with the word tempura attached found a welcome spot on our palates but the anchovy addition to the skewer was a little too fishy for my liking but that’s a personal preference as I have never really found myself taking to anchovies – and I have tried many times!

Creme Brulee Afternoon Tea

Ametsa’s Afternoon Tea laughs in the face of the notion that afternoon tea needs to be considered a British phenomenon. Perhaps it once was but this is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and whichever Brexit camp you fall into, I would argue this Spanish take on afternoon tea is most definitely welcome to remain in our homeland. πŸ˜€

Afternoon Tea Ametsa London

These desserts were quintessentially Spanish starting from the churros dipped in an artisan chocolate lava, the Crema Catalana with cinnamon and the Sangria with passion fruit and lemon sorbet (which I loved when all the ingredients were combined on a spoon but I found became too alcoholic in taste towards the bottom for someone of my teetotal disposition).

best afternoon tea London

And running with the flower show theme, once again, was the Elderflower Trifle, which was exactly the kind of refreshing, summer flavour I needed to cleanse my palate in between the richer creamy desserts.

churros crema catalana

For those of you more drawn to the visual than the verbal, you may question why I took so many photographs of black rocks. Both in images and in person, these sleek black β€œrocks” had an illustrious sheen to their surface and seemed to me to be the kind of soft furnishing that someone with an eye for interior design would scatter around in vases or some such in their model-home-esque urban pads.

charred sweets beetroot crumble

As it turns out, these handcrafted charcoal pebbles, scattered on a garden of sweet beetroot crumble, are actually charred sweets and are rather a labour of love for the Ametsa Chefs. Taking 24 hours to prepare and vastly in contrast to what appearances would have you believe, the surface of these sweets are delicate and flake apart gracefully with just a gentle push of the spoon, revealing a velvety vanilla interior.

luxury afternoon tea Como Hotels

If you enjoy langurously grazing over the flavours of Spain over plates of tapas, if you enjoy dining experiences that break from convention or if you simply know (or are!) the afternoon tea snob who has been there and done it so many times over that no scone will ever stand a chance again – this Spanish Afternoon Tea is the one to catch.

Michelin star desserts

What are your favourite spots for afternoon tea?

 

Disclaimer: We were guests of Ametsa by Arzak Instruction and Como Hotels but opinions, as ever, remain my own. I have done my fair share of afternoon tea *research*  over the years and I can honestly say that this is one of the most creative, unconventional and unique teas I have come across.

25 thoughts on “Spanish Afternoon Tea at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, Halkin Hotel

  1. Oh wow this looks amazing! I love a good afternoon tea but am far from being a purist, I adore different takes on the classic sandwich and scone set up and these look and sound mouthwatering. I wonder if I can squeeze a trip in here the next time I come into London… πŸ˜‰

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 7, 2016 — 6:11 pm

      It’s such a unique twist on the conventional afternoon tea Keri but still manages to keep the food high quality and so delicious! Definitely recommend it if you’re after a bit of a change from the usual sandwiches and scones when you’re next up for afternoon tea or if you know anyone who loves all things Spanish! πŸ™‚

  2. What a great idea, to have a Spanish afternoon tea! I love tapas so this would be right up my street. Did you get to the Flower Show, I really enjoyed it?

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 7, 2016 — 6:12 pm

      I actually didn’t make it to the Flower Show (shockingly, I’ve never been!) so must try and rectify that next year Suze! This tea was so unusual and although I love tapas, I’ve never before come across it in an afternoon tea but absolutely loved the concept!

  3. When I come to London one day, this is the afternoon tea I am going to! I love tapas. I know we both have a huge sweet tooth, and as much as I love sweets, sometimes I prefer the savory to an endless amount of sweets. And you’re right, passion fruit is a gift from the Gods” — I’m glad you didn’t let it go to waste! I would have done the same thing.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 7, 2016 — 6:16 pm

      Aawww I’m so glad you like the look of this Carolann – there are so many in London that it’s hard to pick one but this is definitely one of my absolute favourites! Tapas works such a treat in an afternoon tea because it’s all small, light bites so it’s perfect for the occasion! Did you used to get a lot of passion fruit in Hawaii? We do get it here in London but its costly and I remember how excited I was when I saw it just laid out in piles at the breakfast buffet on our honeymoon in Zanzibar πŸ™‚

  4. The thought of a tapas style afternoon tea had never crossed my mind, but honestly, why the heck not?! Tapas are small dishes and afternoon tea is made up of small dishes… perfect!!! The ‘black rocks’ certain intrigued me but they look and sound delicious!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 7, 2016 — 6:19 pm

      The black rocks were so delicate and really deceptive Connie! When they first came out, I honestly assumed they were rock hard (mind the pun), almost like boiled sweets, which aren’t really my thing so I wasn’t even sure whether to try one. And then hubby cut into his and the outside just crumbled apart perfectly,so yummy! I know exactly what you mean about it never having crossed your mind. I don’t know why it never occurred to me either but tapas works so well for an afternoon tea! Bit like dim sum I imagine – gets googling Dim Sum afternoon tea!

  5. I’ve tried Ametsa’s afternoon tea and I agree after being a little afternoon tea’d out it’s a nice change. And I agree not too filling and stodgy!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 7, 2016 — 6:21 pm

      So glad to hear you liked it too Angie! Don’t get me wrong, I do like nice breads and scones but I always leave feeling overly full or having to leave a lot of the tea behind and at this one, neither occurred! πŸ™‚

  6. I’ve never had a Spanish-themed afternoon tea before! But looks like a great fusion of tapas + Spanish sweets. And those ‘rocks’ look so cool πŸ™‚

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 7, 2016 — 6:23 pm

      I never had done either Jean until this one, in fact I’d never even heard of a Spanish afternoon tea before but I can now safely say I’m sold on the concept! The pairing of a little plate of tapas with some lighter desserts that aren’t all so cake-based works an absolute dream πŸ™‚

  7. I adore your foodie reviews madam – this sounds amazing!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 7, 2016 — 6:35 pm

      Awww thank you so much lovely πŸ™‚ It is a fabulous afternoon tea and although I also love the classics, it’s such a tempting and tasty twist! I rather fancy another portion of the cinnamon Crema Catalana now!

  8. Spanish afternoon tea…Amazing Shikha! The desserts sound so delish and those charred vanilla rocks – wow!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 7, 2016 — 6:36 pm

      Those charred sweets were probably my favourite of all the sweet highlights Priti and it’s amazing to hear how they need 24 hours to prepare them!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 9, 2016 — 1:19 pm

      I know!! Terrible isn’t it but at least no cream and jam! πŸ˜€

  9. This is seriously such a lovely sounding twist to afternoon tea. Like the gourmet selection and just admiring your photos! So so good and so interesting!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 9, 2016 — 1:20 pm

      That’s what I loved about it too Binny! Such a refreshing alternative to the usual classics most hotels serve! Anyone who loves Spanish food would love it I think! ☺

  10. This looks fantastic Shikha, and surprisingly well-priced too. I’d definitely give it a try.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 22, 2016 — 9:44 pm

      Considering the menu is dished out by Michelin starred chefs, I think it’s great value as well! A must-do London tea for anyone who loves tapas style dining and Spanish flavours πŸ™‚

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