Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea at the Chester Grosvenor
By Michelle Chaplow
That wonderful quintessential British tradition of afternoon tea in an English hotel is one of my favourite pastimes. Add to that the venue – a heritage hotel with an iconic location within one of the best-preserved walled cities in England (Chester), plus a new gastronomic twist on an old theme – and you’re on to a winning combination.
Together with their Traditional Afternoon Tea, the Chester Grosvenor now serve what’s known as the Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea and an Indulgent Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea, the only difference being that the indulgent variety is served with an ice-cold Hendricks G&T.
What a great idea. I have seen many a miserable looking man around the world in hotels looking at the finger sandwiches and trying to pretend – for the sake of their ladies – that they wouldn’t prefer something more substantial.
Apparently, at this same place in the late 19th century the ladies would share tea in the own private sitting rooms whilst the men remained downstairs in the Tap.
The men need not suffer in silence any more: the Grosvenor has the solution.
The Grosvenor Gentleman
Talking of Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea, since 1815 the ownership of the Grosvenor Hotel has passed though the seven generations of male Grosvenor heirs. This hotel has a wonderful aristocratic legacy, since the Grosvenors – who gave the establishment their name – are one of England’s oldest aristocratic families.
In 1751 the site housed an “ancient tavern”, The Golden Talbot; and In 1784 The Royal Hotel was constructed. It was purchased in 1815 by Robert Grosvenor (Earl Grosvenor), who at the time was the 1st Marques of Westminster. The present building where the Chester Grosvenor is housed was completed in 1865; the architectural style is Tudor revival with very distinctive black and white half-timbered beams.
The hotel has remained in the family for over a century and, after the passing of Gerald Grosvenor (6th Duke of Westminster) in 2016, the ownership is now with Hugh Richard Louis Grosvenor, 7th Duke of Westminster (born 29 January 1991). According to Wikipedia, the present Duke is estimated to be worth US$13 billion, making him the world’s richest person aged under 30.
Well, he has certainly inherited a gem of a hotel. If you are interested in history, ask at the reception for a copy of the booklet “The Chester Grosvenor: A History”, in navy blue with a gold-embossed crest. Here you will find a page that maps out the Grosvenor family tree. The family crest is adorned with the words “Virtus Non Stemma” (“Virtue Not Ancestry”). You can read all about the illustrious visitors and landmark events over the years.
The Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea Menu
Excellence in gastronomy is nothing new to the Grosvenor. Head chef Simon Radley joined the hotel in 1986, and in 2013 the restaurant was awarded its 24th consecutive Michelin star. In England here are only four restaurants with this honour and La Brasserie at the Grosvenor Chester is one of them. It’s Simon’s team who prepare the tea.
I was a guest of the Grosvenor and dined with recently retired fireman and discerning gentleman Richard Booth.
Gentleman’s Indulgent Afternoon Tea
Served on a three-tier stand with a Hendricks Gin and 5 o‘clock Tonic
Floured bloomer, crispy haddock, tartar sauce
Open rye, roast beef, pastrami, mustard and pickles
Baked pork and apple savoury, Appleby’s Cheshire cheese
Freshly baked plain and fruit scones served with clotted cream and strawberry preserve
Assortment of home-made French pastries and fancies
Freshly brewed specialty teas and coffees (We chose Darjeeling, a blend that I am particularly fond of.)
Priced at £45.00 per person
This afternoon tea is not exclusively for the men; many couples were sharing the gentleman’s version. Ladies please tell your gentleman: it’s safe to venture into the tearooms once again.
An enjoyable experience indeed…