Tuesday 7 April 2015

Vegan Afternoon Tea at Sketch

Afternoon Tea has always been one of my favourite activities, whether it be within my own home using some of my pretty vintage china, or out and about at a fancy restaurant. It always feels like such a treat and perfect for girly get togethers. 

I had recently heard, via the power that is social media, that Sketch in London were now offering up a Vegan Afternoon Tea. Since being Vegan I haven't thought that afternoon tea was really an option anymore, and if I was going to take part in one then I had resided myself to the idea that it would have to be a day off being Vegan! So I was really excited to learn this news and immediately booked us up a table for Easter Bank Holiday Monday. 

So yesterday we set off on the 1.5 hour sunny journey in to London in our car. I always prefer driving into London if I can as I hate public transport and much prefer to be able to take in all of the sights on the journey than be confined to a stuffy underground train. Also, being a Bank Holiday, it meant that there was no congestion charge and no street parking fees so it really worked out well in terms of budget too! 

If you have never been to Sketch before then it really is a very unique and quirky venue like no other. As soon as we walked in my husband said that he felt like we were in an Alice in Wonderland setting which was a pretty accurate description! This venue is home to not only fine dining, but also art and music. Each of the five different restaurant/bar rooms is distinctively decorated and to my delight the Afternoon Tea takes place within the opulent and very pink Gallery room.

The walls of the Gallery room are home to no less than 239 original drawings by British artist David Shrigley. I have to say that, being more into modern art than any other genre, I really enjoyed viewing all of these comical images over tea. I think its fair to say these freehand drawings are quite simplistic in their form but I think thats what excites me about this kind of art - the feeling that I  could possibly create something similar myself!

Before we sat down for tea I had to visit the ladies and you must know that the toilets at Sketch are an altogether entertaining experience on their own! I'm someone that usually hates using public loo's of any description and I tend to send my husband off first to check them out to make sure that they are clean and not frightening in anyway before I venture in myself. Never before in my life have I decided to take photos of public toilets until this weekend! 

Each individual toilet is situated within an egg shaped cubicle that just so happens to have a duck sitting on top of it! This is the first time I have ever peed inside an egg and to be honest, I hope its not the last! What an experience. As if that wasn't enough once inside the egg you are serenaded by the relaxing sounds of nature and ducks quaking! I hate to think how much time I spent in here and it even warranted a second visit after lunch. It was so good people were even taking selfies in there!

Anyway, moving on from the venue and the toilets (have I really just blogged 7 paragraphs and I haven't even made it onto the food yet!?).....

Once sat down at our cosy little table I was presented with the Vegan afternoon tea menu... 

Yes thats right people - I, as a Vegan, had my very own menu! And as you can see it was all rather inviting and impressive. 

Everything was there that I would expect to see with any other afternoon tea - a selection of finger sandwiches, sultana scones, sweets and a choice of teas. Best of all, I didn't feel at all like I was missing out on what the 'normal' omnivores were offered up. 

My husband decided to go in for the Vegetarian option just so that we could see the differences between the two and here is a glimpse of the menu he was provided with...

I am pretty sure that this menu wasn't especially formulated for Vegetarians as it contains fish. So many places assume that if you're Vegetarian you eat fish and I don't really know why or where this has come from but just to clear things up - Vegetarians do not eat fish! A Pescetarian is someone that eats fish but no other meat. A Vegetarian will happily eat dairy, unlike a Vegan, but certainly not fish. 

This kind of had me feeling that this was in fact the standard afternoon tea menu, especially when I overheard a waitress informing another table that all of the sweets listed on this menu actually contained beef gelatine so if she was in fact Vegetarian she would be better off just ordering from the Vegan menu. 

So on the whole a little confusing for Vegetarians, but fabulous for Vegan's! Which is a first.

When our fabulous afternoon tea tiered stands arrived I had to just sit for a few minutes and gaze in awe at everything I was presented with and remind myself that all of this was Vegan friendly.

The finger sandwiches were amazing and I loved every one of them. My favourite was the cucumber and lemon margarine one which I happily ordered more of! Oh yes, and that's another thing, you can have unlimited sandwiches delivered to your table included in the set price of £39pp. 

Wrapping the sandwiches in paper and tying them up in a dainty ribbon was a particularly cute touch! After all, who doesn't enjoy opening up little presents!? 

Never before have I sampled a Vegan scone of any description so this was a first for me and an enjoyable one! To be honest, and in my opinion, it didn't taste dissimilar to a regular scone despite it looking a bit different. The main difference being that it didn't have any accompanying clotted cream but if anything this made it feel healthier and less fattening, whilst not really impacting on the overall enjoyment of eating it! The fig and strawberry jam was enough to make it equally as delicious. 

The sweets were all really delicious and unlike with other afternoon teas, I didn't feel so disgustingly sickly and full afterwards which was great! 

Looking over the table at my husbands selection I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything.... Apart from maybe that big chocolate cake slice! But even knowing that it contained beef gelatine put me off straight away. Who wants beef in their cakes anyway!? 

I have to say though that the sweet selection on his plates looked good and I particularly liked the little 'Food' bowl of mini marshmallows and meringues on top which he really enjoyed tucking into. 

The tea selection was vast and seriously one of the best pots of tea I have ever had! 

I went in for the Darjeeling tea as I think it's a really pleasant black tea for Vegans which offers me the same uplifting comfort that an English breakfast tea with milk used to give me. The tea was also available for unlimited refills. 

Also, and FYI, I just loved the thought provoking eccentric crockery used which again features artist Shrigley's drawings and texts. If you can afford it then this ceramic tableware is also available to purchase within Sketch or from their online store.

Overall we both loved our afternoon tea selections and I really do think that it's wonderful that Sketch are allowing the afternoon tea experience to be just as delightful and inclusive for Vegans. 

My only complaint would be that perhaps they need to put a little bit more thought into a menu for Vegetarians that doesn't contain fish or animal gelatine. It would be nice for Vegetarians to feel just as important and cared about as others instead of being a slight after thought and being directed to just order from the Vegan menu. After all, Vegetarians still do enjoy dairy remember! 

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