Despite actually being British, so says my birth certificate and passport, I am in many ways not very British. I do not regard PG Tips as a drinkable tea. That game with the bouncy round ball where nothing ever happens? Soccer, and I avoid it always. Standing at a bar with a beer? No thanks. Never complain no matter how bad the service is? Nope, I regularly offer feedback including the constructive kind.
But Afternoon Tea? I can really appreciate that. Gluten Free Afternoon Tea. Oh yeah. Comfort, relaxation, conversation. Good, real, actual tea. Sandwiches. Cucumber sandwiches? I hope. Scones, oh my goodness, scones. Good natured debate over whether cream or jam goes on the scone first? It does not matter so long as there is cream and jam!
So to celebrate a friend gaining his permanent residence right we celebrated in a very British way. Gluten Free Afternoon Tea at the Library Lounge, London Marriott County Hall Hotel. It is so British, you could literally see Big Ben from our table!
The Library County Hall, Comfort, Style & Service
Elegant, relaxing, refined. The venue is a real highlight and together with friendly attentive service the most compelling reason to make this a gluten free afternoon tea destination. Tea is taken within the Library Lounge where there is just a hint of the aroma of old, time served books.
Unlike so many venues even as the lounge became full with fellow diners the noise level was moderate thanks to the library shelves forming up partial booths. There is plenty of space between tables and a measure of privacy. Some tables have great views of the Thames and Westminster Bridge.
Service was excellent both before and after visiting. From the welcome to the farewell, staff were friendly and sociable. I particularly loved that our lady server served her personal ‘tip’ for how best to enjoy our mini quiches and which was her favourite of the fancies. Scones were thoughtfully served inside a folded napkin to keep them warm.
The Library County Hall Free From Credentials
I asked for and duly received reassurance about gluten free afternoon tea safety prior to booking from the Pastry Chef. Confidence was confirmed to cater safely for a coeliac and accompanied by some description of how they did so. This included mention of separate surfaces, utensils and containers for gluten free food.
The gluten free bread for sandwiches and scones are bought in rather than prepared in-house. Because of this The Library ask for 48 hours notice of a request for gluten free afternoon tea.
The Library County Hall Afternoon Tea
A tea caddy was brought to the table for selection. The range was broad enough but what I did miss a little was a description of each tea. I prefer to try something different from my normal choices so having a tempting description of each tea available is welcome.
Sandwiches were pillow soft with varied fillings and enough spread to make each bite pleasant. Alas, none of my beloved Cucumber. However there was a terrific miniature quiche. This was a little highlight and I would gladly have traded sandwiches for more quiches!
Raisin scones were the only types available, no savoury or plain. A good scone with clotted cream and jam has an unassailable place within my top five favourite things to eat. This was a good scone. Golden crispy top. Light fluffy, soft and moist interior. Just right. My companion is not a fan of raisins however so the absence of alternatives was a minor blemish.
The ‘fancies’ on the top plate were suitably decadent and delicious. Particular mention for pillow soft marshmallow rectangles dressed in dried coconut which were an absolute treat.
The Library County Hall Recommendation
I have enjoyed Gluten Free Afternoon Tea at St. James Hotel, Brasserie 108 and Covent Garden Hotel and a very exclusive one off special at Beyond Bread that would be tough to beat. Compared to these the Afternoon Tea at The Library was quite good and enjoyable rather than outstanding. This is not damning with faint praise! This is not using “quite good” to mean “quite bad”.
The location, interior and service are the stars of the show and were all excellent. The food was good without being outstanding. I recommend The Library for anyone seeking a more private Afternoon Tea experience enriched by welcoming, friendly service and a terrific venue. For the very best food so far St. James Hotel is my favourite, but I commit to continue exploring! Tell me, where should I be heading next?
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