Going back to the Café Royal Hotel is like going home. It’s here where I got married on 26th May 1991 when it was simply the Café Royal – a historic landmark that was the epicentre of fashionable London welcoming Royalty and celebrities in equal measure not to mention probably its most famous visitor, Oscar Wilde. It’s in homage to this great literary icon that the Oscar Wilde Lounge took its name and it’s here where Oscar Wilde met and fell in love with Lord Alfred Douglas.
Stepping inside this sophisticated hotel is simply magical. Super glamorous yet understated and classy, it still has many of its original features which integrates seamlessly with the new respecting each other and blending harmoniously together. I’m very happy to see parts of the hotel as it was taking me right back to my wedding day. The Oscar Wilde Lounge itself is like the palace of Versailles, guilt-edged in gold and very ornate, it’s simply breath-taking. This was the Café Royal Grill Room, a fine dining restaurant where we celebrated more than one wedding anniversary!
Many a star has been a frequent visitor from Elizabeth Taylor, Muhammad Ali, famous models, Marilyn Monroe and the late Princess of Wales. Ziggy Stardust aka David Bowie was a frequent visitor as were many other musicians, in fact, there is a new bar at the Café Royal named after David Bowies’ eccentric alter-ego. Having been turned into a hotel in 2012, the hotel has again undergone renovations, can it be even more beautiful? well I can safely say having stayed overnight in 2016, it really is the most special place in London to spend the night.
I was here with my mum to have Afternoon Tea two days before my own wedding anniversary, it was my mum’s treat and she hadn’t been back since my wedding day. She too was impressed by the graceful beauty of the hotel especially the majestic feel of the Oscar Wilde Lounge.
We were greeted by our host Madalina who I knew from a previous Afternoon Tea, she welcomed us like an old friend. Today 24th of May would have been Queen Victoria’s 200th birthday and the Café Royal weren’t going to let this momentous occasion pass them by. In honour of one of our longest reining monarchs, the Café Royal has devised a special Afternoon Tea called The Queen of Afternoon Tea to commemorate the bicentenary of her birth. As an extra special treat, everyone having Afternoon Tea on the 24th of May would receive a beautiful mini size Clive Christian Signature 1872 scent. Men weren’t left out, they were gifted the male version of this evocative scent presented in a black velvet pouch.
As we settled down perusing over the menu deciding on our tea, we were presented with two flutes of complimentary Veuve Clicquot champagne.
Tea was English Breakfast Victoria Blend followed by rose & lychee and rosebud tea to have with the cakes.
As always, the Café Royal start with an Amuse Bouche which was sitting on the first tier of the classic gold and cream china stand which complemented the rest of the china, this design was a favourite of Queen Victoria’s.
Pork Ballotine with Truffle and Pistachio
Cheshire Cheese & Asparagus Tart
Selection of Tea Sandwiches
Cucumber & Rose Pepper Cream Cheese
H Forman Smoked Salmon & Dill with Wild Fennel Crème Fraiche
Curried Chicken & Raisins
Rose Beef with Albert Sauce
The Amuse Bouche was delicious, two morsels of mini open tarts, a dainty slice of pork ballotine which sat in-between two very thin crisp biscuits and a buttery Cheshire cheese and asparagus tart. In the background, the gentle tones of the piano added to the elegance of the Oscar Wilde Lounge.
The second and third tier of the stand was a bed for the delicious pristine looking sandwiches. It was a pleasure to eat super soft spongy sandwiches without a dry edge in sight. Recently I’ve been unlucky with the quality of sandwiches in my Afternoon Tea’s but at the Café Royal, everything is outstanding and every little detail simply perfect.
I read a blogger’s post recently where they tried the Queen Afternoon Tea at the Café Royal and said how much of a disappointment the sandwiches were. I really find that hard to believe but it could have been an off day for her and the hotel, these things happen. Our sandwiches were delicious, each one was packed full flavour and filling. My mum and I were particularly drawn to the smoked salmon on charcoal bread which was used in the Festive Afternoon Tea I had here at Christmas. Charcoal bread is so dark almost like chocolate, but the flavour is unbelievably delicate and has the softest texture, the aniseed like aroma of fennel really brought out the flavour of the mild salmon, we had more of these sandwiches.
Mum and I had a second glass of champagne, I never say no to the fizzy stuff, it’s my favourite probably because it’s less than 100 calories per glass too!!
We were given lots of time between sandwiches, scones and cakes so we weren’t getting too full while my mum and I reminisced about my wedding day and how lovely it was being back at the Café Royal. Before we dived into our scones, we had a palate cleanser which was a change from the usual hibiscus tea I’ve had in the past. This time, it was an orange jelly which was zingy and full of citrus aroma and flavour with the gentlest of wobbles. I much preferred this to the hibiscus tea, it was presented in a pretty glass topped with a delicate purple edible flower probably there to enhance the orange colour of the jelly.
Queen Victoria was very much known for her love of cakes, her favourite flavours and ingredients being the inspiration behind The Queen of Afternoon Tea. The Duchess of Bedford, a lifelong friend of the Queen first came up with the idea of afternoon Tea. It was a way to fill the gap between lunch and dinner and it quickly gained popularity with the Queen. It’s just as popular and fashionable today as it was then, we all love a delicious afternoon tea or high tea, is it any wonder the ritual of Afternoon Tea is now such a Great British Tradition adopted all around the world.
Our scones and cakes arrived on another stand looking glorious. Scones were served with traditional strawberry jam, lemon curd and thick Cornish clotted cream which we piled on followed by jam and the on the other half, we tried the lemon curd. We only allowed ourselves one scone each to make room for the stunning cakes.
Chocolate Choux Bun with Salted Caramel Cream
Raspberry Victoria Sponge
Vanilla and Apricot Blancmange
Rose, Raspberry & Lychee Tart.
The cakes were pretty and dainty just like Queen Victoria and so delicious, we really couldn’t pick a favourite. The mini choux could rival any from a Parisian patisserie, it was filled with creamy chocolate and salted caramel cream and topped with a mini crown, it was a fitting tribute to the Great Queen herself. The lychee and raspberry tart topped with a real rose petal was both fragrant and delicate, the dome of vanilla and apricot blancmange which took on the shape of daisy flower was creamy and light on a Brussel biscuit. Last but by no means least, the Victoria Sponge of course to honour Queen Victoria, it was as light as a feather.