There's a certain special feeling of anticipation as you sit down for your first high tea — it's like the first time you're allowed to order off the menu yourself as a child, or maybe the awed feeling of walking into an impressive hotel. Maybe it's the cultural hints of Eloise at the Plaza; maybe it's the sense of ritual.
When we walked into Hippopotamus the sun was streaming in, glinting off the bottles at the bar, the polished mirroring, the feathers of the peacocks mounted on plinths. There was also a jealousy-inducing birthday party going on — think ten 5-year old girls in frothy dresses, being served fizzy, shoestring fries on floral china and macaron by suited French waiters. Adorable.
We sat down and decided on our refreshments for the afternoon. I opted for a Gin Eddy, with lychee and fresh mint and elderflower, while my friend went for a glass of Louis Roederer champagne. China teacups of jasmine green and apple and elderflower teas were poured as we waited for our cake stand to emerge.
We feasted on a triple-tiered array of the Hippo's best pastry offerings: sandwiches and mini quiches, a delicious savoury choux (more on that later) and a salmon mousse. The sweeter layers were interesting and textural — think smooth creme patisseries and tarts, flavours of lemon and passionfruit and rosewater and chocolate, each garnished with its own touch, each as perfect as their counterparts on the other tables' stands.
A definite highlight was the combination of the goat's cheese and avocado choux and the rosewater custard pastry. They were at sweet and savoury odds with each other; like cousins, delicious when sampled among the other delights as we progressed up the layers of our cake stand.
We left perfectly full, not aching, but we could still appreciate the little plate of macaron brought to our table as a last touch to top off the Francais-inspired afternoon. As always, the considered service and manner of the wait staff made us feel looked after and special. If you need somewhere lovely to take your mum, aunty, friends, or you've got a little girl who needs to have her Eloise experience, the Hippo High Tea is a rite of passage and a blissful little way to spend an afternoon.