For the second year running Dandelyan has been crowned the best bar in the world. And for the second year running I, Leighanne Bent - who was crowned ‘best dancer’ and ‘funniest laugh’ in Virginia College in 2010 (no, I’m not done milking this yet) - was invited down to review the riverside gem. Although the news broke in October that the bar will be closing down to welcome a new look and a brand new menu, the team released Chapter Two of their Wyld Tea in August, giving me (and you) one more reason to pay the acclaimed bar a visit before it closes its doors.
I’m a massive lover of random facts. Want to know when London went up in flames? 1666. What influenced Miley Cyrus’ song Wrecking Ball? Sinéad O'Connor. Who invented afternoon tea? Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. Around since 1840, afternoon tea has had many makeovers the last 178 years. From Disney-themed treats and glazed baguettes in place of scones (why on earth anyone would want an alternative to scones, I don’t know) to scooting around London on an actual bus, the capital is constantly coming up with new twists on the traditional meal, and forward-thinking Dandelyan are running effortlessly ahead of the pack with their second coming of Wyld Tea.
Kicking off with Cheers! - a tall flute brandishing a biting mix of Bacardí, plum and peach, elderflower, with a generous pour of bubbles - it wasn’t long until our first wave of food made its way to the table. Featuring three types of sandwich on the bottom tier, each dainty rectangle had a filling infused with alcohol, from gin to IPA. Neatly balanced on cute floral patterned plates, we tried gimlet compressed cucumber, herbed goat’s cheese, watercress on brioche; pastrami with IPA relish on spelt bread; and smoked salmon, kümmel and green onion mayonnaise on rye bread. Not just a far-flung gimmick, you could really taste the addition of booze between the soft slices of speciality bread, particularly in the gimlet compressed cucumber. Teetering above our ‘Sarnies’ were the ‘Savouries’. The Curaçao smoked duck, miso, parmesan croute had a flaky pastry where the shavings dropped onto your lap after every miniature bite and the lobster and crab filled daiquiri herb roll was so fresh, the seafood could have had been plucked from the ocean that day. Our second cocktail of the sitting was the Palate Cleanser, sweeping our taste buds of previous flavours with a unique combination of passionfruit and sea buckthorn, and Bombay Sapphire that almost tasted medicinal, before moving onto the Chocolate Farm. Moreish with a little more density than its predecessor, we were beyond impressed with the mix of Dandelyan’s chocolate vermouth, pink peppercorn and prosecco. Garnished with a baby pink marshmallow with freeze-dried raspberries on top, my only qualm was that we couldn’t order a second round.
Finished with the ‘Savoury’, the ‘Scones’ and ‘Sweet’ sections were the next to arrive to our mirror-topped tables. Just like Noah’s Ark, in pairs of two were Earl Grey vermouth custard tarts, mint chocolate Scotch tea cakes and French Martini blancmange. The custard tarts had a deep syrupy centre and the tea cakes had a homemade element, flourishing with fresh mint. The last cocktail of our Wyld Tea was the McCrop Mojito. Filled with crushed ice, we slurped an almost re energising concoction of Grey Goose, green tea, mango and citrus, that have us a giddy high for the tube journey home.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Sandwiches that make you tipsy? London is packed to the rafters with quirky takes on afternoon tea, but if you’re looking for one that isn’t just about how it looks on Instagram, Dandelyan is the place to go. You get four limited edition cocktails that compliment your two servings of booze-infused food and not only that, but you get to walk away knowing you’ve been to the world’s best bar - it's a no-brainer, really.