You can hop on a train from Paris, Bruges or Amsterdam from St. Pancras, but a new pop-up in the train station wants to take your taste buds further.
The Art of Travel is a summer-only experience at the Searcy Champagne Bar, located on the top floor of London's most magnificent train station. While Eurostar trains chug just meters away, greeted by Sir John Betjeman, guests are offered an afternoon tea on traveling in a suitcase.
The spread defies the standards of the afternoon tea, not only by avoiding a staged stand, but by becoming adventurous with the sandwiches. York ham and wholegrain mustard on rye bread are a highlight. The bread offers an indisputable - but welcome - chocolate flavor. The smoked salmon, chive and lemon butter patties are a bit strange, the patties are too thick and too thick to go well with the spicy salmon.
The European theme shines most heavily in the dessert section, where German Battenberg cakes are juxtaposed with macarons (which are usually considered French - actually Italian, as we learn). If you have a sweet tooth, the deliciously smooth Belgian white chocolate mousse may be the culinary highlight of your week, while the Swiss meringue pie with passion fruit balances.
We love the architecture of St. Pancras and never thought we would have reason to criticize the seductive glass roof, but we will say so. Eat fast, or the summer heat and winter garden atmosphere will turn your lovely snacks into shivering wrecks. Our chocolate opera needs to be scraped rather than spooned, its chocolate layers flow into each other, and although it does not affect the taste, it rather retires from the look of Parisian sophistication we seek.
Since the bar is located in a train station, its decoration is limited, but the map table tops are a considerate thing. They offer those who do not have a Eurostar ticket the opportunity to indulge their wanderlust. However, be careful to look at the map before your meal arrives - the expansive afternoon tea set occupies the entire table (did we mention it was served in a suitcase?).
Elsewhere, stacks of pastel-colored suitcases are set up to tempt the Instagram tribes, and twelve tables each contain a city name that indicates how many miles there are.
If you just have time for a drink before the train, read the pass card, a sophisticated cocktail menu with lots of Veuve-Clicquot champagne and Sipsmith gin. Our choice is the Orange and Ginger G & T, a surprisingly sweet blend of orange, ginger and chocolate. Just make sure you still see just enough to get on your train, right?
The art of travel appears in the champagne bar of Searcy in St. Pancras. Until 9th September 2019. Afternoon tea costs £ 26 per person. A pre-registration is required.
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