London to a tea

On a gloriously sunny Saturday in July (yes, we did have a few), I made plans to meet up with out of town friends this weekend. We talked of Indian summers and planned a barbecue to enjoy the last of the sunshine… After Wednesday’s all-day monsoon and today’s grey start I’m thinking our plans were possibly a little ambitious. So what to do on a rainy weekend in London? And no, not rugby.

My new plan centres around food, obviously, and showing off the Capital, naturally… I’m taking them to tea: what could be more London? Particularly when that tea is at Café Royal, in the gilded splendour of the Oscar Wilde Bar, no less. It is in this very room that Oscar Wilde fell in love with Lord Alfred Douglas, Aubrey Beardsley debated with Whistler, David Bowie retired Ziggy Stardust and Mick Jagger, the Beatles and Elizabeth Taylor danced the night away. And if that doesn’t impress the socks off them, then the exquisitely restored, authentic Louis XVI detailing definitely will (there’s more gold and glitz here than on the whole of Hatton Garden).

And the tea, oh the tea… No ordinary scones with cream and jam, the London Royal Tea is a true celebration of British history, featuring edible icons from the city. Not just local ingredients, like honey made a matter of miles away, but classic British dishes like Wellington bites, pork with crackling sandwiches and Victoria sponge, all served with brilliantly inventive contemporary twists (think chorizo, caramelised white onion and thyme Wellington). And then opera cakes crowned with sparkling edible buttons à la Pearly Kings and Queens, and macaroons with a fun Underground theme. In fact, the more I think about it, the less I mourn that ill-fated barbecue. Why dice with potentially undercooked sausages when you can leave the catering to some of London’s finest pastry chefs?

The tea launched this week and costs £42pp, or £55 with a glass of Champagne