The Queen regularly dined in the Capital’s restaurant and tea room. So, when the hotel decided to mark the occasion of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday with a special “Royal” Afternoon Tea, you can rest assured they are doing so with her particular tastes firmly in mind.
To begin, Caesar, the most affable master cocktail maker on the planet, will fix you a Royal Cocktail. So called because it was the Queen mother’s favourite: Gordon’s Gin, Dubonnet and homemade Lemonade. As far as first steps go, this one’s a doozy. It is refreshing and if I am honest, I could have easily seen of a couple more – indisputable proof that the Queen mother was a woman of taste.
A rather splendid tea caddy will then be planted in front of you. On Sunday’s the tea is served in the restaurant from a Silver trolly (well worth experiencing in and of itself). The formula of sandwiches and sweet treats, followed by scones, all consumed between sips and splashes of hot tea is so traditional it needs no introduction. But the Capital’s twist is its theme of a “Royal Picnic.”
The Sandwiches are at the same time very hard to get wrong, and incredibly difficult to make innovative. Will Torrent and the Capital Hotel have done a wonderful job of making. Coronation chicken makes an obligatory appearance but it is by far one of the best you will have. Likewise the chive butter in the cucumber sandwiches makes them so much more vital than any I have eaten before or since.
The sweet treats and scones are a but hazardously moreish experience. The Capital will gladly replenish your plates because they want you to feel at home, and if you enjoy their desserts anyway near as much as I did, you will leave Knightsbridge feeling rather full up. In particular, their regal purple biscuits are something you will ask to buy a packet of. If they could package and sell those biscuits they would put every shortbread, hobnob, and jaffa cake out of business for good.
Selecting a tea at the Capital is vital to your experience. Because it is a royal tradition, the Earl Grey will almost definitely be the choice to pair with your sandwiches. However, by the time you are done it will be far better to match your cakes and desserts with a lighter and more fragrant tea. The Jasmine Pearl was particularly light, but by far the best tea to pair with your treats is the Blackberry and Hibiscus. As they sell Jing teas in the Capital, I would also invest in a pot to take home.
At £35 with a ‘Royal Cocktail” the experience will give you remarkably affordable quality. But moreover, the Capital’s Royal Afternoon Tea is an overdue dose of true regality. It isn’t a nouveau-riche mid-shopping spree teas, it’s something I think the Queen would be very proud to put her name to.