Having enjoyed so many traditional and conventional British afternoon teas, I was on the look-out for something different. I wanted to experience a different-take on afternoon tea and I was aware that there were a few places in Knightsbridge that could offer me a unique experience. I had made a reservation to visit a certain dining establishment for afternoon tea in the area, but after a rather unpleasant experience with the maître d’, I cancelled my reservation and left the establishment concerned. Once outside, I paused for thought as to where I could now go for an impromptu unconventional afternoon tea experience and staring right in front of me was the Buddha-Bar Restaurant, located at 145 Knightsbridge London, SW1X 7PA. This was one place on my to-dine-before-I-die-list; it is a luxurious Pan-Asian restaurant and bar that offers lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and drinks and I am so absolutely thrilled to tell you about it.
Stunning establishment with floor to ceiling crystal dragons
Based in central Knightsbridge, Buddha-Bar Restaurant is in easy walking distance from a number of mainstream attractions and shops including Harrods. As you walk through the smooth revolving door, you will be greeted by a very personable and friendly maître d’.
The entire establishment is truly stunning and you will be surrounded by such impressive interiors that you will feel like you are in an oasis of calmness. There are floor to ceiling crystal dragons and the signature Buddha artwork is located in various parts of this wonderful zen-like eatery. There are two levels to the restaurant. The only difference between the floors is that on the lower ground floor there are more private dining areas that can be hired out or upon request, diners can request specific tables as they are more segregated, creating more privacy for a special occasion.
Having made no reservation or explained that I was a vegetarian in advance (which is usually required for afternoon tea), I was delighted that the maître d’ at Buddha-Bar Restaurant saw no problem with my dietary requirements and immediately provided me with the vegetarian afternoon tea menu to peruse. She then enquired whether I would like to sit and relax in the bar or at a table whilst I wait for my fellow dining companion. Now, I share this with you because it clearly shows how professional and accommodating the staff at Buddha-Bar Restaurant are from the onset. There was a real calm and tranquil vibe to the whole place and it started off with how the maître d’ had introduced me to the brilliant dining experience that was to follow (and I am sure will occur in your situation too).
Sensual atmosphere with a chilled and chic ambiance
Buddha-Bar Restaurant is such a truly decedent venue; it is very stylish, refined and sassy, as you can see from the photographs. There is a trendy and classy feel to both levels of the establishment.
The Buddha-Bar Restaurant concept was inspired by Raymond Visan and it brings the idea of having an eatery where you can indulge in different experiences over the period of a day whilst staying simply in one place. Whilst the extensive menus stay the same, the actual offering of Buddha-Bar Restaurant changes throughout the day from having soft and gentle music to having live bands and belly dancers in the evening that are ready to entertain you.
As you are seated, you will undoubtable be in awe of the décor, which is not visible from the outside. The mood lighting really enhances a sensual atmosphere and the background music during the earlier parts of the day fall in line with the tranquil theme that is being proposed. There really is a great vibe to this place and the chilled and chic ambiance means you will have a fabulous and special experience.
Throughout your time at Buddha-Bar Restaurant, you will find that the staff are smart, alert and totally in control of delivering a positive experience for you. You will be treated with the utmost respect and courtesy. It is no wonder that Buddha-Bar Restaurant has been the Winner of the Best Restaurant Bar by the London Club and Bar Awards in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
A hit on the savoury side with surprising vegetarian caviar
Traditional and conventional British afternoon tea would include the savory items of sandwiches and scones with a variety of sweet items accompanied by a pot of hot tea. How does Buddha-Bar Restaurant do it differently? Well, rather than only having a pot of tea, you will also be offered champagne, prosecco or a mocktail to enjoy. The savory items of sandwiches and scones are replaced by a number of Asian inspired miniature items and the sweet treats remain a prominent feature.
Alongside or after having your cold drink, you can order one pot of tea per person to enjoy with your food. I would recommend ordering the tea when you have the sweet desserts. The options of tea that you can order are categorized into black and green teas. From the black teas, you can select English breakfast, earl grey, canton chai, canton chocolate tea, mango noir or Darjeeling. From the green teas, you can either have jasmine pearls or the maoi jian. I opted to have the canton chocolate tea, which was a smooth black Indian Assam and Chinese Yunnan tea with a Madagascan vanilla pod and Peruvian cocoa nibs, which gave it a wonderful sweet aftertaste.
If you are a vegetarian, your savory items will include an avocado and yam bean in yuzu sauce, tofu tempura in hoisin sauce with steamed bun, crispy spring rolls with sweet chili sauce and vegetarian summer rolls with Vietnamese sauce. I was most surprised by the vegetarian caviar topped on the creamy avocado item and this was most certainly a new and unusual treat. My favourite, however, had to be the tofu steamed bun, which was warm, flavorsome, chewy and delicious. If you are a non-vegetarian, you will receive a duck hoisin steam bun sandwich, tuna tartare on toasted fennel bread, a Vietnamese vegetable summer roll, crispy black cod and seafood wonton. My fellow dining companion had opted for this selection and was positive in her feedback both verbal and literally (no item left on the dish).
The staff pleasantly walk through each item on the respective dishes and also provide two different types of sauces, including a chili sauce with a kick, to accompany the savory items. The traditional British clotted cream and jam had been replaced with a spicier sensation; clearly more suitable for the items concerned.
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Superb pan-asian sweet flavours with chilli chocolate and green tea
Once you have savored the savory items, you will be presented with the sweet treats on a platter to share. The beautiful and colorful items that you will be offered are a pistachio macaroon, chili chocolate mousse, a fruit tart and a green tea cheesecake per person. The fact that I have had the opportunity to even enjoy these desserts makes me feel special as they were so unique, unusual and absolutely wonderful for my palate.
The pistachio macaroon was superbly sweet and had a wonderful crispy yet chewy and soft texture to it, in the right places. The rich chili chocolate mousse was to die for and was my absolute favourite. The mousse was dense and divine whilst the crumble was chewy and not too sweet, so a perfect little dessert. The fruit tart was tasty, albeit the type of item that you have to eat with your hands as neither a fork or knife will successfully cut into the pastry, without a part of it potentially flying into the air (and trust me, you want to eat every bite of this dessert). The green tea cheesecake was superb; the cheese had been lightly whipped on top and the green tea flavor came through perfectly as it sat on top of a crumbly buttery biscuit base.
Afternoon tea is a great introduction to what Buddha-Bar Restaurant can offer
Now, if you’re looking for a three tier stand and the three stages of afternoon tea (i.e. first the sandwiches, then the scones, followed by the desserts), then afternoon tea at Buddha-Bar Restaurant is not for you. If the element of afternoon tea that you enjoy is having the contrast of something savory and something sweet in a leisurely and very relaxing environment where you’re treated with care, then do give Buddha-Bar Restaurant a look into as it offers an unusual and flavorsome alternative to the British conventional afternoon tea.
In addition, and alternatively, if you’re not sure whether you want to try Buddha-Bar Restaurant for lunch or dinner, then I would say the afternoon tea is a great introduction to the quality of food that you would be offered during such meals (in that it is excellent) and is brilliant value for money. Afternoon tea per person starts at 25.00 GBP (32 USD) and as you can see from this review, you would receive an array of items to enjoy.
With a vegetarian main dish starting at 12.50 GBP (16 USD) and a non-vegetarian main dish starting at 17.50 GBP (22 USD), the fact that you can experience so many miniature culinary items for 25.00 GBP (32 USD) in the afternoon tea experience, is certainly worth it and a great way for finding out whether you like what’s being served up at Buddha-Bar Restaurant. From my experience, I have decided that dinner at the Buddha-Bar Restaurant has now been added on my must-eat-before-i-die-list.
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