Vegan London: Afternoon Tea at Café Royal

Sumptuous ostentation of the nicest possible kind. The Oscar wild bar is a gilded feast for the eye, totally a wow room to drink in via the senses, whilst sipping on a delicately blended cup of signature tea. The piano player builds the atmosphere subtly with classic melodies enjoyed by the day tripping tea parties and adding a beautiful auditory caress, perfectly blending all the sensory stimulations together.

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A single red rose adds simple elegance to a room which cannot be outshined.  The history of tea and afternoon tea contained within tells the story and etiquette of afternoon tea that is so quintessentially English.

The afternoon tea menu is seasoned with history and the Chefs have done their best to extend this to the vegan menu – with vegan versions of the ‘Queen of Hearts Bakewell tart’ and peach melba (reminded me a bit of fruit cocktail though).  The chocolate brownie was no mini Jaffa Cake (lucky non-vegans) but it was perfectly textured and flavoured, and presented beautifully.  My favourite delicacy was the coconut chia seed pudding, a welcome relief to sugar overload.  The scones are always the cherry on the cake, so to speak, afternoon tea is not complete without them, these however were a little lacking. A pinch of salt may have gone some way to fill the lack, I ended up eating only half of one. I was impressed by the bespoke range of jams and spreads, just for the vegan diner, (pectin doesn’t always come from fruit) and by the care of the staff who were competent, eager to please and friendly.

What the Café Royal Vegan afternoon tea lacks in subtlety of flavour, it brings in experience, atmosphere and decadence. Almost sweeping the senses back to 1865 dining with Oscar Wild himself. The tea was delicious, the sandwiches modest and the range of sweet options a welcome surprise. I wonder if some of the vegan options featured on the main menu, there might have been some of the effort put into the non-vegan array, which was very impressive. With an increasing number of diners seeking dietary sensitive alternatives, maybe we’ll start to see foods being prepared that can be eaten by all, rather than separating and differentiating.

All in all the care and attention, the tea, the attempt to carry through the themes and mostly the exquisite setting, being whisked back to Victorian London, give this vegan afternoon tea experience a 4/5 – at the Café Royal’s Oscar Wild bar, the feasting is most definitely in the eyes.

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Don’t forget to look up.  Decadence wins out for the Cafe Royal.

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