It was the chocolate martini which lifted the tea from very nice to completely decadent. I'm not certain I've ever had champagne, a martini, or any other alcoholic confection with afternoon tea. This one was the way I wish all martinis were: smooth, rich, with a subtle hint of fruit in the form of pulped strawberries. It may more accurately have been a cocktail; it had chocolate syrup in it, but I can't remember if gin or vermouth made an appearance. The martini was one of a choice of four, an optional extra in the Mandeville Hotel's chocolate week contribution.
The predominance of chocolate amongst the treats was balanced by a handful of savory sandwiches. Tomato and mozzarella bruschette, roast beef with horseradish cream, and prawn marie rose on basil bread were pleasant, while the grissini wrapped with Parma ham were standouts, particularly because it was very good Parma ham. The rest of the layered china plates were laden with thematic goodies: chocolate meringues; chocolate macarons; frosted chocolate cupcakes; brownie-like mini chocolate cakes; chocolate eclairs; white and dark chocolate mousse tartlets; fruit skewers; chocolate scones with jams and chocolate spreads with which to top them. The tartlets were particular standouts for me, but the variety with which it was presented meant - fortunately - that the quantity of chocolate never became tiresome.
Tea was straightforwardly traditional. My cup of energizing peppermint infusion was attentively replenished while our helpful and well-informed main server was on duty. (For all she reviewed what we were having with her stand-in while on break, he mostly forgot to help us with our geographically-distant sources of tea.) The ambiance was living room chic, warm and enthusiastic colors emphasizing velvets and other soft textures.
Other than the tea and generally good service, the hotel was also particularly impressive for providing a full gluten-free three-tiered tea for the gluten intolerant person in our group, who had planned on just watching us eat chocolate vicariously.
You too can eat the Mandeville Hotel's chocolate-themed tea. It's available through Saturday this week.
Thanks you to flick for organizing, and, as well, to coth, bohemiancoast, easterbunny, and fjm for the delightful company.