Afternoon tea in London is big business. The Ritz Hotel serves up to 400 every day and menus start at £54 (£30 for children) and to be honest it doesn’t get much better than this provided you can afford it. All the big Plazas with doormen in tails follow suit.
For a restaurant to serve afternoon tea is quite unusual. You have just finished serving lunch, kitchen is getting cleaned down, staff on a break, restaurant is being laid up for the evening service and those couple of hours are a vital respite between shows for all departments. Last thing you need is a coach load of people coming in for cake. Specialised service, extra pressure on the kitchen, very labour intensive pastry items that have to be just right, increased wastage, staff costs etc etc.
So why has Sosharu, a Japanese Restaurant in Farringdon, part of the Jason Atherton group, started serving tea. Well I was lucky enough to be invited to try it at an event hosted by Mash Purveyors and Weiss Chocolate. Regular readers will know that Mash always lay on a great spread and today was no exception with David Swain and Alex Jazevica both indahouse.
At 4.00pm on a Monday the restaurant is buzzing there are many familiar faces here, top chefs from the London restaurant scene, several pastry chefs checking things out, restaurateurs, foodies, the blogger elite. Head Chef Alex Craciun and pastry chef Emily Argent are somewhere in the background working their socks off!
Table lay up was simple, classy and straight Sosharu. We started with Tuna Temaki, tartare of tuna, Tobiko (flying fish roe/not easy to harvest) on a Nori/Wakami/Tapioca (I,m guessing here) cracker basket thing ….bloody delicious total cucumber sandwich wipeout. Then Monaka, Foie Gras, Muscatel Grapes (Mash at their best) Weiss praline powder all contained in an air dried biscuit sandwich thing that defies description so I had to have a look inside before taking a bite.
Sweet things started with Melon Nigiri, watermelon like you have never tasted, clean, minimal sugar, flavour that lingers and shouts WATERMELON. I asked Emily the Pastry Chef what was in it but she wouldn’t even hint at what she done to the watermelon.
Next was a Strawberry and Green Tea Roll. Matcha Tea Roll with iced strawberry and Weiss white chocolate. We finished with Chocolate and Sesame Praline Dome. Skill, art, precision and taste, light meltinthemouth stuff that really showed off the quality of the Weiss Li Chu Vietnamese chocolate.
At £28 a go Sosharu Menu is affordable luxury, innovative, and quite simply delicious. The range of teas is also a welcome change from Assam and Earl Grey (both of which I love) I tried Sencha Asamushi. As someone who has spent their entire life in the kitchen and have had the good fortune to work with some exceptional chefs some might say I have become very particular about what I eat….fussy….yes…..hard to please…..maybe.
I was blown away…get down there.
Big thank you to Mash for inviting me, Weiss for their amazing chocolate and party bag and Sosharu for deciding to up the game on that great British institution afternoon tea.