Dearest Gentle Reader, you are cordially invited to an afternoon of delight and frivolity. Come with me on a culinary journey through time, where elegance and refinement reigns supreme; what scandal is this I hear you say? Indeed, there is much fun to be had when you visit the Lanesborough Hotel. There are sweet treats and dainty finger sandwiches like you’ve never tasted before, tantalising and flavourful, it’s quite something.
Oh, to be alive in the Regency era! A time where opulent parties, lavish balls, formal dinners and romantic dialect was the norm. My old romantic soul yearns to be transported back in time but in a sense, I really was at London’s Lanesborough. One sunny afternoon in July, I descended upon this elegant hotel to dine on these gorgeous delights in the form of a limited-edition Afternoon Tea inspired by Netflix’s hugely popular series, Bridgerton.
Queen Charlotte, A Bridgerton Story is the spin-off prequel to Bridgerton in partnership with Netflix and show creator, Shondaland and the Queen Charlotte Afternoon Tea pays homage to this exquisite historical drama. If you haven’t watched it yet, you really must, it’s an absolute treat. I probably watched it over two days, I couldn’t help myself. Much like the Queen Charlotte Afternoon Tea, I devoured it, such is the rush of emotions that sweep over you when watching this utterly mesmerising drama. It tells the story of Queen Charlotte’s rise to power and her heartbreaking but romantic, complicated but endearing relationship with her husband, the sweet King George.
The scene is set in the hotel’s Regency-style dining room beneath an incredible glass domed atrium where natural light floods this stunningly beautiful space. If you close your eyes for a moment, imagine that you’re in Lady Violet’s drawing room as the gentle, mellow tones of the piano and the pastel blue hues surround you, how wonderful it would be to have a harp playing here too.
The Queen Charlotte Afternoon Tea begins with a cocktail inspired by the Regency period. Much merriment was made as the drinks flowed and gossip flourished, the social calendar was full of gaiety and foibles during Regency England. The Queen Charlotte Cocktail has a lot to live up to and it really does. It’s a wonderfully fruity gin-based cocktail with the addition of Chambord liqueur, cranberry, lychee and a dash of vanilla and lime. It sparkled in the sunlight thanks to the barely-there gold shimmer it was dusted with; it was quite exquisite and a lovely way to start Afternoon Tea.
The Queen Charlotte Afternoon Tea brings the story of Queen Charlotte, A Bridgerton Story to life and I couldn’t wait to see what else was in store.
The teas I chose are in keeping with what I normally have, the Lanesborough Breakfast Tea followed by the The Queen Charlotte Afternoon Blend. The Lanesborough Breakfast is a combination of malty Indian Assam and Sri Lankan and Kenyan black teas. English Breakfast tea is one of the strongest blends you can have and is the perfect choice to have with a savoury course thanks to its robust character and depth of flavour. The Queen Charlotte Afternoon Blend really intrigued me which is why I chose it for the cakes because even though it’s a black tea by nature, the addition of aromatic rose buds and fruit was the perfect companion for the sweet treats
Quite unexpected was the dramatic entrance of the sandwiches served on a silver tiered stand entwined with citrus foliage, it really took my breath away, it was quite stunning. The three tiers had the sandwiches on the bottom, scones tucked away in a pristine tea towel and the extravagance that is always the sweet course but more about that later.
Tea cured salmon, lemon & caper cream
Coronation chicken, golden raisins, fresh coriander
Devilled egg mayonnaise, mustard cress
Organic cucumber, cream cheese, basil & chive
Montgomery cheddar scone, cheese custard
The sandwiches were some of the best I’ve ever had. There were no weird unusual colourful breads here which are quite the thing now but just traditional sandwiches, perfectly cut and paired with fresh vibrant ingredients, no gimmicks necessary, they were all incredible. I didn’t have any seconds because I really wanted to enjoy the cakes.
Out of all the sandwiches, my favourite was in fact the Montgomery cheese scone; layers of flaky pastry topped with a rich cheesy savoury custard, a sprinkling of cheese and nigella seeds. It was so delicious; I loved the intensity of the cheese and the texture. The salmon was also a favourite, it was butter soft enhanced by the lemon and caper cream and the Coronation chicken was wonderful, fresh coriander being quite an unusual addition but nonetheless beautiful. The Devilled egg and mayo and the cucumber cream cheese were gorgeous. The basil and chive really elevated the mild flavour of the dull cucumber because lets be honest, it’s a boring veg; punchy flavours like the aromatic basil was perfect for this.
The scones were enclosed in a crisp white tea towel which were warm when they arrived but sadly, by the time I was finished with the sandwiches, they did get cold. From experience, when scones are presented on a tiered platter in this way, everything on the stand has to arrive at the same time and the consequence is often a cold scone. It really didn’t take anything away from their flavour or texture though, they were super soft and so flavourful.
The scones were plain, and raisin and they were served with strawberry jam and a zingy citrus lemon curd plus thick Cornish clotted cream which resembled creamy ice cream the way it was served in a perfect dome. I had both scones which is so rare for me, they were utterly divine. I really loved the lemon curd because it cut through the richness of the clotted cream. I don’t think Queen Charlotte would have approved of me devouring both the scones, not very ladylike I know but they were too delicious to say no to.
The cakes are the creation of Lanesborough’s head pastry chef. Salvatore Mungiovino, a stunning collection of four cakes inspired by the beloved characters of Queen Charlotte, A Bridgerton Story. They were the epitome of Regency perfection. The star is undeniably Your Majesty, a beautiful sharing cake.
The Queen Charlotte Cakes
King George – Dreams of Venus
The Lady Violet
Taking centre stage was Your Majesty, a perfectly regal and majestic sharing cake with its very own tiara! I managed to eat it all by myself as my plus one (my daughter) couldn’t make it. In fact, I ate the lot, there wasn’t a cake left behind, safe to say, I didn’t have anything else to eat the rest of that day.
Your Majesty is a crumbly almond biscuit base, a melt-in-the-mouth soft caramel inside a creamy white chocolate mousse, it was topped with a regal sugar crown with iridescent pearls. It was without a doubt, the star of the cakes. Next, King George and his Dreams of Venus, a playful take on King George’s obsession with the universe, a planet sphere of rich 54% chocolate mousse on a chocolate sable biscuit covered in a glossy blue chocolate shell. This cake symbolised the King’s love of astronomy perfectly.
Lady Violet is a beautiful dainty cake much like the character of Lady Violet; a delicate powdery baby blue icing resembling the blue in Lady Violet’s Reading room, it has a couple of sugar daisy sugar flowers in each corner. Lady Violet’s Buzzing Garden is a subtle creamy coconut delight; coconut bavarois has a lime Chantilly cream with a mango compote centre, it was delightful.
Last but by no means least is the Danbury Delight, a nod to Lady Danbury’s love of hats and jewels. The Danbury delight is a cake in the show’s signature purple. The lightest vanilla ganache has a centre of pistachio gateaux formed in a dome covered in mauve icing with a cleverly constructed tempered chocolate disc in the form of one of Lady Danburys’ lavish hats. The cakes just like everything else was divine.
The Queen Charlotte Afternoon Tea is a beautifully curated experience paying homage to the show; it’s enchanting and charming, inventive and super delicious. I know I’ve said this about other Afternoon Teas I’ve had so far this year but The Queen Charlotte Afternoon Tea is by far one of the most incredible dining experiences.
The Queen Charlotte Afternoon Tea won’t be around forever so get yourself to the Lanesborough Hotel to sample this Regency inspired experience and in the words of the Queen “You love, and you love hard because if you do not…you are lost” and I absolutely LOVED the Queen Charlotte Afternoon Tea.
Queen Charlotte – A Bridgerton Story Afternoon Tea is priced at £75 per person or £85 with The Queen Charlotte Cocktail/Mocktail or £90 with a glass of Champagne.
Hyde Park Corner
London SW1X 7TA
+44 20 7259 5599