Pre-WW2 Grosvenor Square (GS) was considered one of the four most uber-cool hangouts in the Old Smoke – receiving its name from the reigning Duke of Westminster (1700-32) Sir Richard Grosvenor, who kicked off the square’s construction around 1721.
In the 1920s GS was a playground for the ‘Bentley Massive’: Tim Birkin, Bernard Rubin, Woolf Barnato and Glen Kidston. The quartet hogged the south-eastern corner of said square, neighbouring each other in separate gaffs. Bon viveuring was high on the sports-car-lovers agenda – the Bentley boyz all-day soirees and shindigs became renowned – booze was guzzled like that of Mercer Series 5 Raceabout’s engine, with no finishing line in sight.
We owe thanks to The Duchess of Bedford’s hearty appetite for the Low Tea Movement – tucking into a biscuit or two, served on a low table, to keep her ‘strength up’ before supper soon caught on.
The Grosvenor Square Hotel, GS, is home to the decedent Luggage Room, a speakeasy-esque bar that feels like you’re imbibing aboard the Titanic but with the same interior and tailoring as the exterior of a Louis Vuitton trunk. We were very much at home.
It was a roaring welcome to the roaring 20s style establishment – as soon as we parked our derrières we were offered: Punch a la Romaine: Champagne and Romaine sorbet, plantation 5yr fresh ginger extract. Fresh lemon juice, House made lemon sherbet, egg white built and served up, at £14. The zing and zest from the sherbet and lemon juice hits you first, beautifully softened by the egg white and champagne, all merged with a ginger undertone. An acceleration to fifth gear – scrumptious.
Low Tea, means tea – so tea, is what we had. We shared a Lapsang Souchong: think log-fires, grandad’s pipe and that time you snogged a cigar smoker. A bit like ferret legging, not for everyone, but for those that do – a huge amount of pleasure. Now stocked in our office. As well as: China White Monkey: a light and delicate bouquet of freshly cut lemongrass infused with dainty floral flavours – pleasant.
The alluring array of savoury and sweet delicacies was served in a prohibition era, American medical box – all adding to the 20s eroticism.
Ours for the taking: Pickled New Forrest Mushrooms, Thyme, Crème Fraiche Tarts – a decent crunch to buttery pastry, the herb, creme and shrooms worked. H Foreman & Sons Smoked Eel, Horseradish, Crème Fraiche Vol Au Vent – as eels go, this slippery sucker had it goin’ on – lacking that metallic taste (that’s a good thing) the fishy flavour is complemented with a gentle punch from the horseradish – all fused by the crème.
Devonshire Wild Boar Sausage Roll, Tiptree Grain Mustard – we have a #winner (emoji: smiley-face wavy-hands). Hummmm – yum scrum. Beats those of Maltby St Market. Quality sausage – who doesn’t like one of those? Lyburn Smoked Cheddar & Sage Scone, Spiced Pear Chutney. The cheese notes pulled through but a tad dry – the mild, but bursting with pear-power, chutney made up for it.
Devilled Balmoral Venison, Free range Clarence Court Scotch Egg. On par with Mac & Wild’s – if you haven’t tried Mac & Wild’s wares yet; stop reading this and immediately book a table – you neanderthal. My deers, egg-cellent. “Luggage Room Signature” Tea-Cured Salmon by H Foreman & Sons, Caviar. Pure class on a white ceramic spoon – the fish eggs popped salty gorgeousness seconds after touching the tongue, lifting the salmon to another seafood taste level.
To wash down the mini puds we were steered in the direction of Jack Rose (“You jump, I jump remember?”): Laid’s Applejack, House-made Grenadine, fresh lime juice, nutmeg shaken and served at £14. Cranberry in colour with ripe apple aromas – not even an iceberg could sink this beverage – an undercurrent of spice and hints of citrus kept all afloat.
Next up: Luggage Room Limited Edition Plantation Rum Syllabub – neither a mousse, crème or parfait – room temperature, creamy and airy with a strong orange current, quite unique – superb. Tiptree Tawny Marmalade infused Carrot Cake – steam pudding moist but without the residue – laced with sweet-carroty-goodness – (emoji: thumbs up). Classic Victoria Sponge – the late Queen would’ve been chuffed: sponge, jam and cream – nothing went wrong. Neat.
As well as Tiptree Jarred Scone Trifle. This deconstruction malarkey – in France you can now buy steak tartare in a can, from a vending machine! Anyways, this spoon full of – a lot of sugar – did not help the medicine go down. Too sweet – not toot sweets, different film – an overload of sickly cream. And to finish us off: Salted Caramel Meringue. Think French macaroons – crisp, honeyed and sugary with a smidge of seasoning – oui oui oui.
Bentleys, Vuitton cases and buoys are not required – you won’t wanna jump overboard. Appetites – not dissimilar to that of The Duchess of Bedford’s, a good palate and your manners (the service is exceptional), are.
Low Tea £48
The Luggage Room
T: 0207 493 1232 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening times: Low Tea. Wednesday – Saturday from 12.00, last sitting 15.00 – Low Tea. Sunday 12:00 – 17:00. The Bar. 17.00 till late
I’ve lived in the Old Smoke since 1999 with a career in fashion, fitness and events. I discovered the joys of writing beginning of 2014. Since then I’ve been tapping digits to keys. Subjects include food, theatre, exhibitions, London life and other topics that tickle my taste-buds. Other publications include Timeout, Gay Times and So So Gay Magazine.