Somewhere between an artist’s colour wheel and Heston Blumenthal’s concoctions lies the Temptation Wheel – an indulgent new creation at the Savoy, London. Served in the beautiful Thames Foyer are a combination of carefully chosen cocktails, chocolates and desserts which are specifically designed to work harmoniously together. Small, lamp lit wheels on the table provide descriptions which assist in your selection and simply laid out labelled sections from Light to Indulgent offer a sample for any palate.
The new Temptation Wheel at the Savoy
The subtle theatrics of this experience begins with the innovative gold wheel. This is separated into four sections depending on the level of richness desired. Within these are three rows: one for chocolate, one for drinks and one for desserts. This is designed to assist with choosing compatible items. Once you have made your choice a waiter serves you from an elaborate hostess trolley, presenting you with a patterned slab of South American chocolate housed in delicate sheets of black tissue paper and a shallow black box. With a swift tap of a small hammer the waiter cracks the chocolate. You are ready to indulge.
No sense is left wanting. The cocktails are created by Chris Moore and the Beaufort Bar team and are premade so once you have selected you are served directly from the trolley once again. If you need a pick me up then opt for a Café Milano. Served in a smoking cafetiere and poured for you, this spooky thrill tricks the senses as it is actually cold.
Cafe Milano being poured from its cafetiere
Sticking with the theme, there is also an Earl Grey Suzette. This gentle sounding cocktail welcomes you with the Christmassy scent of orange from a peel twist, then smacks you with a 12 year old whisky. Orange endures as we are rescued by Grand Marnier. The fruity theme continues with Calvados and a whole blackberry. Apparently this drink has earl grey in it too. This is a ridiculously strong cocktail and although under the Indulgent section on the wheel it is not sickly.
For me, the drink which accompanied the sweet treats best was Two Worlds. It contains Bacardi Carta Blanca, Mezcal, pineapple, lime and velvet falernum (a sweet syrup) and is designed to work with white vanilla chocolate. It is light with an aroma of fresh tomatoes and an earthy, metallic after it rains scent. Sharp lime makes it taste similar to a margarita. This drink is like an adult version of lemon squash and works similarly to a palate cleansing sorbet.
True flair comes into play with the desserts. The talented Executive Pastry Chef, Ludwig Hely and his team have a playful nature shown in Dynamite Belle-Helene which is Tahiti vanilla ice-cream dynamite sticks and marzipan sat upon a red pop art style explosion flash. A poached pear is placed on top of the dynamite then once delivered to the table a thick hot chocolate sauce smothers the pear. The little things about this dessert are key, such as the fuse which is ‘lit’ with gold leaf. With all the drama and excitement of this pud the flavours, in contrast, are subtle with the delicate marzipan and vanilla from the ice-cream lifting the perfectly cooked pear.
Peach Melba Legacy
For chocolate lovers there’s plenty of choice, particularly if you choose the Cocoa Pod. The waxy, mild flavoured chocolate shell opens to reveal a quenelle of mousse, airy ice-cream and salty cookies. There’s also Mint Straccaitella which contains 64% dark chocolate. The aromatic mint ice-cream instantly transports you to the dusty warmth of Morocco and its taste doesn’t disappoint either. Reminiscent of perfectly made mint tea the rest of the dessert (a light, flourless rectangle of chocolate sponge carries a cloud of chocolate mousse which is accompanied by miniature salted chocolate cookies) can’t compare to the sensory experience of the ice-cream. A bowl of this would keep me extremely happy.
Cracking though the spherical gold dome of Peach Melba Legacy is as satisfying as popping the paper of your coffee jar. The talent in the kitchen has managed to blow sugar into a sphere and fill it with a vanilla foam, fresh raspberries and poached peaches. This dessert is so light you wouldn’t know you were eating it if it wasn’t for the crack of sugar shell and a stickiness on your teeth. However, the drama and technical skill of this dessert excites me more than the taste.
Of all of these crafted puds the winner, for me, is a classic. Don’t mess with the classics – there’s a reason they are so. The Tart Tatin is beautiful. Sweet buttery pastry wafts up your nostrils making you feel like you are at grandma’s house. Its accompaniment is a yoghurt sorbet which was, to my surprise, better than a scoop of ice-cream. Its mild sourness balanced the overall sweetness and acted like a palate cleanser, allowing you to taste the flavours of the tart with each mouthful.
Aimed at theatre goers or those looking for somewhere different to retire to for dessert or an after dinner drink, The Temptation Wheel is available between 7:30pm and 12 midnight, Monday to Sunday. Prices average around £16 for a cocktail or dessert and £6 for chocolate. It’s an enjoyable experience in a more relaxed setting than other areas of the Savoy where, for example, in the American Bar you are not permitted to enter wearing jeans.
The Savoy, The Strand, London WC2R 0EU
By Helen Shewry