I went to afternoon tea with my Mum last week, very kindly organised by the ladies at Karen Millen after we had finished our mother-and-daughter styling session. We went to The Capital hotel in Knightsbridge, which is (literally) a stone’s throw from the side entrance to Harrods but somehow manages to be very peaceful and homely. There was a fire burning in the little lobby and the room for afternoon tea was snug and cosy with only enough room for a few tables. Which made a lovely change, because all of the teas I’ve been to in the past year or so have been in huge spaces, crammed full of tables and roaring with the sound of a hundred different conversations. Afternoon tea, it seems, has become big business. It’s always been popular, I suppose, but recently it seems to have had a bit of a revival.
What also made a lovely change was the fact that the people at The Capital hadn’t messed around too much with the types of cakes and sandwiches they served; I’ve had some weird old things offered up recently. Usually when the hotel has tried to “theme” their afternoon tea, shaping their cakes into shoes and magical caterpillars and things like that. One afternoon tea had a “cake” course that was entirely formed from chocolate and fondant icing! Bizarre.
At The Capital the sandwiches were traditional but beautifully executed. Salmon and cream cheese, mackerel pate, egg and cress – there’s a reason why some combinations have stood the test of time! Give me a classic over your “bread made from roasted cauliflower topped with sea foam and aubergine caviar” any day. Oh and the bacon and mushroom mini-quiche: I could have eaten a full version of that, no problem. You may know that I have a bit of a “thing” for a good quiche – this one was exemplary.
The cakes and sweets were perhaps a little more adventurous; things like dark chocolate orange trifle (delicious), bakewell tart (could have eaten four) and the best lemon drizzle cake I think I’ve had in many years. Tangy, sharp, absolutely saturated in lemon and syrup but somehow not too sickly at all.
Mum and I had Baby AMR in tow (Mr AMR has been down with flu – proper flu, it turns out, so I must apologise to him for my Man Flu quips last week) but the staff couldn’t have been more accommodating. I would say, though, that it’s such a cosy room that it seems wrong to barge in with a huge pushchair and all of the stuff that comes along with a baby – there were only two other people tea-ing when we were there, but had the room been full then the pushchair would have been a pain. Much nicer, I think, to enjoy a relaxing afternoon tea as adults and have proper conversation! Luckily the baby fell asleep after about half an hour so Mum and I were free to gorge ourselves stupid on scones and wash them down with the lovely herbal infusions we had ordered (Lemon Verbena for me, Jasmine for Mum). (*I’ve just noticed that the baby’s hair looks bright red in this photo! It isn’t, it’s blonde, but she does look quite cute as a redhead!)
I’d highly recommend The Capital as a pit-stop if you’re shopping in Knightsbridge – it feels very traditional and posh but it’s small and quiet and not overbearing, which is perfect if you’ve already had your senses bashed about in busy Harrods. Afternoon Tea costs £29.50 per person (£39.50 with champagne) – you can find more details here. On our way out, we saw that Nathan Outlaw has a restaurant in the hotel too – we absolutely loved his fish cafe in Port Isaac (see post here) so I think we’ll be back to eat there as soon as we can manage. I’m still digesting the scones.