Having spent a morning pacing
Oxford Street on a Saturday (I thought it was a stupid idea too but
sometimes needs must) and a sprint down Regent Street dodging tourists and the
bubble-blowing man outside Hamleys, I was in dire need of calm, quiet and cake.
Afternoon tea is a wonderful thing considered by many to be
so quintessentially British. The problem is that it’s generally a mammoth
undertaking when the best establishments keep rolling out the refills and leave
me feeling like a beached walrus after agreeing to just one more round of
sandwiches and an extra scone. Yes, arguably I should have more self control but when it
comes to cake and pretty little sandwiches with the crusts cut off I just
It is therefore a truly
wonderful thing to find a place where you can have the experience of afternoon
tea without the gargantuan quantities of food. Let’s call it a diet afternoon
tea… Café Royal is that place. Make
no mistake, they too offer the full shebang in just gorgeous surroundings in
their Oscar Wilde room but for the lighter option, pop into the cafe and try and
choose between the prettiest of patisseries, lined up in glass cabinets with fancy pants
piping, smooth-as-a-glacier-lake ganache and tiny weeny chocolates on the top.
Although the more casual option, the cafe is still beautiful inside with wall to wall warm veined marble. Wall to wall is actually something of an understatement as it is frankly everywhere from floor to wall to tabletop.
|Picture borrowed from the Cafe Royal website as mine didn’t really capture all the marble…..|
The cake billed on the menu as a “jaffa cake” was, of course,
no McVities biscuit/cake. This confection was a delicate layering of the lightest genoise sponge with a rich, dark ganache, an orange jelly and more layers of chocolatiness before a drenching in mirror finish ganache and gold decoration. My favourite of the afternoon (but this is coming from someone who can wolf an entire box of jaffa cakes without a second thought so I’m not perhaps not an unbiased sampler).
The raspberry, lychee and rose eclair was also not an eclair in the traditional sense. Rather than be piped full of cream this was delicately swirled on the top. Pretty but a little bit cheating in my opinion. The choux was nice and crisp though and the raspberry and rose flavours popped; more lychee though please! It was the boy’s favourite one, however, and he is a cakeaholic so it must have been good.
I dare you, try having just one cake per person when you go.
I swear blind that it’s impossible despite my good intentions! Two each is just
plain greedy though so we settled on one extra one to share.
The “Ferrero Rocher” macaron was slightly odd to behold, a
massive rocky macaron sprayed gold with added gold leaf floaty bits, perhaps not the prettiest thing on the menu but I totally get the homage to the Ambassador’s favourite treat that they were going for.
It didn’t have the usual internal feel of a macaron as the rich
ganache filling was weighing down the normally light almond sponge shell. Somewhat average visuals aside and whilst
flying in the face of tradition, this “macaron” was delicious but left no space for any more. Cake craving successfully sated.
Jasmine tea was served in a beautiful teapot with all the
accoutrements of strainers and pretty little silver dishes to sit the strainer in although possibly superfluous as it turned out the tea
was in a bag….
If its a celebration then I would definitely advocate going for the full tea served elsewhere in the hotel but for a mid afternoon treat or a shopping pitstop for a bit of peace and quiet in beautiful surroundings, I can think of nowhere finer.
68 Regent St, Soho, London W1B 4DY
020 7406 3333