If you’ve been to El Nacional in Barcelona before, you’ll be familiar with the dining concept at The Ned. The City’s hotel & members’ club is home to nine restaurants, including well known Cecconi’s and steak house Lutyens Grill, all set in the opulent ground floor of the converted banking hall. Although each restaurant is open to each other, they all retain their distinctive qualities but with a buzzy atmosphere. The City at the weekend can be oh-so-quiet, but if you time your visit right you could be treated to live music which takes place in the foyer as you come in.
We were here to check out ‘Asian-Pacific-inspired’, Kaia for an exciting twist on a quintessentially British tradition, afternoon tea. We’ve actually been before, Kaia is our go-to, post-bookclub pit stop for when we’re all talked out and need a hearty yet healthy poke bowl (not to mention, beautiful – dishes were created in collaboration with Instagram favourite Clerkenwell Boy).
Served every Saturday between 2-5pm, the Japanese Afternoon Tea is served on a pretty spherical display, starting with a top layer of sushi. We tucked into delicate pieces of salmon and tuna ‘temari’ sushi – meaning ‘hand ball’. Think cute little rice balls topped with fish. Our favourite was the pickle onigiri, another little ball of rice, this time wrapped in nori and dotted with light, crunchy puffed rice balls. This savoury section comes with a scooped out lemon and lime containing a simple seaweed salad per person. But if you’re into afternoon tea, you’re probably here for the sweet stuff, so here we go…
The middle layer contains four pretty decent sized patisseries each, starting with ‘green forest’ a matcha flavoured layered cake with white chocolate and cherries. The ‘rice cream’ looked like a scoop of sorbet on a cracker, it’s topped with a red azuki bean and citrus zest. There’s a slightly retro chocolate roulade with sesame ganache and a pretty pink choux stuffed with strawberry cream and yuzu curd.
Scones are replaced with matcha melon pan (a sweet, fluffy bread), and instead of jam and cream there’s Kaia curd and kumquat compote. We’ll let you argue it out regarding which goes on first. The set menu is priced at £30 and includes a variety of teas to choose from, although we couldn’t resist adding a glass of prosecco, which is served in cut glass coupes.
We’d absolutely return and would go so far as to say it’s our favourite (albeit, non-traditional) afternoon tea in town.