Review: Afternoon Tea at Sweet Things, Primrose Hill
In the heart of London’s affluent Primrose Hill, midway along Regent’s Park Road, a small boutique bakery and cake shop known as Sweet Things can be found. With a cult following that includes the likes of David and Harper Beckham, Jools Oliver and Helena Bonham Carter, it’s clear that there is something pretty special about this place, and while at first glance the small space it occupies might not scream luxury, sample the menu’s sweet and decadent delights and you might just change your mind.
On a sunny Sunday in late September, we enjoyed an amble up to the top of Primrose Hill, famous for its breathtaking views across London. As popular with locals as it is with tourists, landmarks such as the Gherkin are clearly seen against the crowded city skyline, but from this wonderful viewpoint, comes a real sense of peace.
A somewhat more Suburban area of the city, Primrose Hill offers a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of busy central London despite its proximity to places like Camden and Chalk Farm, and on a Sunday it is filled with well-to-do families who are out for a bite to eat or to enjoy the late summer sun.
We arrive at Sweet Things at noon, and are shown to our pre-reserved table inside. With colourful jars of sweets lining the windowsills and the tables themselves filled to the brim with confectionery with just a glass panel on top on which to set your tea and cake, it’s little wonder that every passing child is seen desperately tugging at the hand of a parent, pleading with them to be allowed to come inside.
Rows of decadent looking cupcakes fill the glass-fronted display unit at the back of the shop, while shelves are filled with an endless selection of tempting teas.
We are invited to sample the afternoon tea for two, and opt for a pot of traditional English tea to accompany our selection of light bites. Offered a choice of two mini cupcakes each, we decide to share the Banoffee Pie, Cookie Dough, Biscoff and Red Velvet offerings, spoilt for choice and greedily unable to decide who should get which.
As we are pouring the tea, three tiers of sheer decadence arrive in front of us, and we blissfully munch our way through smoked salmon and cream cheese finger sandwiches, miniature scones with jam and clotted cream and juicy chocolate-dipped strawberries.
But it doesn’t end there. Next come the cheddar cheese and tomato sandwich bites, miniature cheese and onion quiches and chocolate brownies squares.
Everything is perfectly baked. The scones are crunchy on the outside, yet deliciously warm and soft inside, and the brownies are gooey and moist. The bread is as fresh as can be, and the quiches crumble just the right amount when cut into with a fork.
The stars of the show, though, are the cupcakes themselves – buttery soft, light sponge piled high with lashings of cream cheese or buttercream icing, these are an utterly delectable treat, and the selection of flavours on offer is endlessly delicious.
Owned by Natalie Allen, who started up the business a decade ago in a bid to satisfy her love of baking and sweet flavours, she has since become a pillar in the local area, and having had the pleasure of sampling her handiwork, it’s not hard to see why. Sweet Things is a very simple, pared down venue, but offering beautiful bakes in a most fantastic setting, it still manages to exude that air of luxury we are forever in search of.