London, being a world city, has the honour of having within its boundaries many iconic hotels and restaurants. This is most certainly the case with the Palm Court at The Langham, where the British tradition of Afternoon Tea was born over 150 years ago. I was lucky to be able to visit in November 2018, with the aim of dining at this elegant home of gastronomy, located inside the aforementioned and luxurious classic hotel.
An Iconic Hotel in London
Speaking of the 5-star Langham, is to mention one of the largest and most important traditional hotels in the Marylebone area of Central London. The design of this spectacular building is thanks to the architect John Giles and was built between 1863 and 1865 at a cost of 300,000 GBP.
Its inauguration was quite an event within London’s upper class. The hotel was such an important addition to the British capital’s landscape that it was the Prince of Wales himself who conducted the opening ceremony on June 16, 1865.
Visited by characters of great renown
The Langham has always been a place of lodging for people linked to high society, members of royalty, and renowned politicians among whom I can mention, Diana Princess of Wales, Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, who, whilst in residence broadcast messages to the resistance in occupied France from the iconic BBC Broadcasting House which is just across the road.
A sad episode was during World War II, when the hotel was partially used by the British Army. It suffered severe damage in the blitz that forced it to close. The building had also appeared in several films including Golden Eye from the James Bond series among others.
Palm Court at The Langham: this is your table
For this occasion, as with the previous culinary experience, my reservation was made through Bookatable by Michelin for two people at 8:30 PM. All as a result of a tempting and exclusive offer that could not be missed, a Festive Menu with a carafe of wine included all for just 49 GBP for each diner.
That night it was raining like cats and dogs, I know it’s a common thing in London, but I at least did not expect it to rain that much. I arrived almost 20 minutes in advance, as happily Oxford Circus tube station is just a few minutes away.
The Palm Court is very close to the entrance of the hotel, you just had to pass through the main door and in a few steps there were beautiful and impressive Christmas decorations, where I paused to take a few photos in the foyer and reception. A friendly waitress greeted us confirming that the reservation was all in order. After putting our coats in the cloak room, we were seated at our table facing the centre of the room.
Welcome to a gastronomic experience
Shortly after we sat down, we asked for still water, and they brought us Focaccia and a tapenade of black olives, an addictive combination that surprised us so much that we ordered a little more of that crunchy mixture, which immediately allowed me to relive flavours of Italy and Spain.
This was a good way to start the evening, that was enhanced by enjoyable live jazz melodies played by the house band. What a great detail for a dinner, setting the tone and enhancing our visit.
After a moment to reflect on the surroundings and the menu, we were ready to choose between the Festive Set Menu options, with three delights for each person, starter, main course and dessert. We also had a free carafe of wine each, so we decided on one of white and the other of red wine to combine with our meal.
It was time for the starters. In my case, I had no doubts when I saw the Classic brandied lobster bisque. I needed something forceful and strong that would defrost me a bit from the cold I had experienced minutes before thanks to the rain. Seafood in any combination is a tempting idea for my senses. I love the sea and this time I wanted to taste its products with exquisite touches of classic British cuisine.
The second starter was Balvenie whiskey-cured salmon, buckwheat blini, egg mimosa, a dish of traditional origin that never has waste because it combines very well with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The light and tasty mix was an excellent way to open up – as far as possible – the appetite.
I wanted to continue with fish for my main, and I opted for Baked Cornish Cod, Jerusalem artichokes, cepe mushroom velouté, a nice white fish and a favourite for Fish & Chips. Every bite made me want more and more because of how the ingredients were ingeniously combined.
The next main course was Roast chicken suprême, classic ‘boudin blanc’, with a festive selection of seasonal parsnips. The main ingredient was tender and did not lose the flavour of the roast that evokes traditional cuisine of the United Kingdom.
During the main courses the perfect drinks to accompany them were the white wine for fish, and red wine for the chicken.
Although we were both somewhat full, we decided to make room for dessert (there should always be room for dessert). There was no rush, so …
In my case I wanted to end the evening with the flavours of the classic British dish Date and Toffee Pudding with vanilla ice cream. A safe bet because it always reminds me of good times and Christmas parties just like hot chocolate and the flavour of my favorite ice cream.
The other dessert was stamped with tropical flavours, Banana “tarte tatin” and passion fruit sorbet. A mixture that inadvertently transports you to more exotic places, ideal to forget -even for a moment- the cold of the season.
Conclusions of the experience
The atmosphere in the restaurant invites you to spend some moments of calm and relaxation. Above all it adds to the ambience that the food is mixed with instrumental music played just a few steps from the table. From the moment that we arrived, the staff were attentive and always ready to help, including with taking photos.
I recommend the Palm Court at The Langham, for its delicious food and first-class atmosphere. I would also like to try their famous Afternoon Tea that has special touches for Christmas in association with the nearby Liberty department store. If you have the opportunity to go, do not hesitate, because I am clear I will be going back to try more delicacies.
Places of interest near Palm Court at The Langham
The area where Palm Court at The Langham is located is full of leisure activities. I recommend some of the following ideas for before or after your meal.
The Palm Court is located very close to Oxford Street, one of the busiest and most famous shopping streets in the world. This title is due to the great variety of stores that exist in this central street with more than 300 stores, among which British designers and boutiques of the most recognized brands in the world stand out. A favourite place for Londoners is Selfridges, an ideal spot for shopping for fashion, furniture and other objects.
To do a little more damage to your wallet, less than 8 minutes walk is Liberty, the most exclusive and oldest department store in London. Inside there are exclusive fashion designs for the whole family and luxurious accessories for the home. If you fancy taking in a show, in the same street is the Palladium Theatre where you can enjoy some great shows and musicals.