Cost – £28.50 (Nov 2019)
Parking and Access – The centre of London is not a good place to bring a car. It is much easier, and cheaper, to use public transport. Whilst, I’m sure there is parking available, we did not notice any nearby. However, The Swan is right next to the Bankside landing stage on the river, and is within walking distance of St Pauls underground station. There is a flight of stairs to reach the restaurant within the building. However, there is a lift available via the building next door, which houses the shop for The Globe theatre. The toilets are on the same level as the restaurant.
Background – We had been given a voucher from Buyagift (www.buyagift.co.uk) for a Midsummer Nights Dream Afternoon Tea for two at The Swan at The Globe on London’s south bank.
The Globe is a reconstruction of Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre. It was opened to the public in 1997.
The building next door is now The Swan, housing a bar and restaurant. This building is attached to another building containing the Globe Theatre’s shop and a second, smaller theatre, The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
We arrived in London by train and walked to the restaurant via St Pauls Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge. The theatre is close to the southern end of the bridge on Bankside.
Contents – Two rectangular sandwiches each (smoked salmon with citrus cream and egg mayonnaise), one brioche roll (poached chicken with mustard mayonnaise) and a mini mushroom and leek quiche. Two medium sized mulberry fruit scones, a small dish of midsummer berry jam, and a small dish of clotted cream each. A pear and salted caramel Opera cake, a blackcurrant and violet macaroon, a mini rhubarb and custard choux bun, and a mini dessert of rosewater jelly topped with vanilla cream. A pot of tea.
Comments – We entered The Swan from the riverside entrance, which led straight to a flight of stairs up to the restaurant on the first floor. We checked in at the desk and were shown to a table by the windows overlooking the river.
The table was laid with white crockery decorated with depictions of scenes from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream, a glass, a tea strainer, a knife, fork and teaspoon and a linen napkin each.
We were each given a copy of the Afternoon Tea menu and were offered a bottle of water. We declined at first. However, the second waiter offered us tap water, which we accepted.
The water arrived in a bottle marked The Swan Eau de Vie and we were each poured a glass. We chose which tea we wanted to drink (English Breakfast) and my companion chose to add the signature Love Potion cocktail (gin, honey, blackberry puree and prosecco) at the extra cost of £6.50 plus a compulsory 12.5% tip.
The waiter returned quite quickly with the cocktail and a short round metal teapot containing the tea. The milk was in a mini bottle.
The teapot contained enough tea for four cups. It was a little on the strong side but was made with loose leaf tea so we could not remove the leaves. We later managed to find a waiter to ask for a refill of the pot. We asked for the pot to be topped up with hot water rather than for a completely new pot. Unfortunately, this resulted in rather weak tea instead!
The Afternoon Tea arrived on a three-tier cake stand with similar plates to those the table was laid with decorated with a Shakespeare theme.
There was also a separate plate containing the pots of jam and clotted cream.
The sandwiches were freshly made and reasonably well filled. The chicken brioche was my favourite despite being made with mustard mayonnaise. The mustard was not really detectable. We had overheard the table next to ours, which was the only other table having Afternoon Tea, being offered extra sandwiches. This was never offered to us. We wondered if that was because we were using a voucher rather than paying full price.
The scones were a good medium size and had been warmed up. They were made with mulberries, as referenced in A Midsummer Nights Dream. The scones were light and fresh. They were really good.
The berry jam was really delicious and there was plenty of it. However, there was only just enough clotted cream.
Two of the desserts contained flowery flavours, which I am not very keen on. Luckily, the violet flavour was not really evident in the macaroon as blackcurrant is quite a strong flavour. In fact, the macaroon was really nice. It was lovely and light and fresh.
On the other hand, the rosewater in the mini dessert was quite strong. However, there was not a lot of it and it was possible to lose the flowery flavour in the vanilla cream and topping.
The final two sweet items were the Opera cake and the mini choux bun. Both were fresh and tasted good. The choux buns were topped with a disk of white chocolate with a picture of either Oberon or Titania printed on it. I had Titania on mine and my companion had Oberon on his.
Service was very sparse. Beyond the arrival of the Afternoon Tea we were left alone. We had to attract attention in order to top up our teapot and had to stand up and collect our stuff together before anyone would come with the bill. The restaurant filled slowly whilst we were there but was never particularly busy.