Y’know whats great? Cake. Y’know whats better than cake? Disney themed cake, specifically from one of the most iconic Disney dinner parties ever: Beauty and the Beast. Yeah, I went there. I finally managed to get my arse down to the Kensington Hotel in London for their Tale as Old as Time afternoon tea. I munched my way through yet another three tiers of British tradition with a twist and enjoyed every second. Be prepared for Disney fangirling and an onslaught of quotes from one of my favourite Disney films.
So pull up a chair, as the dining room proudly presents: your dinner.
Now first and foremost, before I start to fangirl, I have to give a special mention to the staff. Honestly, best service I have ever had. I’ve been to a few fancy places and had my fair share of afternoon teas by now, but these guys take the cake (pun wasn’t intended but after re-reading it, pun fully intended.) Now, I need to point out that it was, like, 8 degrees outside and my pal has a penchant for turning up an hour early for appointments. So we went in and asked if there was somewhere we could wait inside, even though we were mega early and expected to be turned away:
Maitre d’: “Yes, yes ladies of course have a seat in our lounge, I’ll check and see if we can move your booking forwards for you.”
Us: “Oh no it’s ok, we can wait, it’s our fault. We just appreciate being in the warm!”
-*15 minutes later*-
Maitre d’: “Hello Ladies, I have your table ready if you would like to eat now. It’s all prepared and waiting for you, so you can wait until your booking time or we can seat you now, it’s no problem.”
Ummm, just wow. At other afternoon teas, we have been told to wait outside and we weren’t even allowed in the building before our allocated slot. However, the Kensington Hotel clearly know what customer service is… and that it’s bloody expensive so good service is key 👌.
Not only this but the menu was explained to us fully, and they checked any special dietary requirements, even offering to switch out any dishes we simply didn’t like, because they wanted all their guests to enjoy their experience, down to the very last sandwich 😱. I mean, who does that?! I was so darn impressed. First and only time that has happened and it made our experience sky rocket tenfold. We didn’t even swap anything out, but we were so grateful that it had been offered.
I’m also a difficult lass who doesn’t drink tea, but was offered not just ‘coffee’ but refillable cups of any specialty coffee I would like (plus the coffee cups matched the tea cups… it wasn’t a cheap IKEA mug and a pot of filter coffee like a few other places I’ve visited.)
Now let’s get to the good bit, the food!
On arrival you are presented with the option of a glass of champagne and each guest receives a biscuit in the shape of Belle’s iconic ball gown, wrapped up in cellophane and tied with a ribbon for you to take home. The biscuit is All Spice/Speculoos and Marzipan, with a gold lustre and red roses piped on.
Once you are seated they ask you to unfold your menu, take a glance and then you’ll be their guest. This is the time to chop and change the menu and order drinks (as I mentioned before.) Then you are brought your first course, the hot savouries. Yep, this tea has HOT SAVOURIES. I know, drool worthy or what? These were inspired by the food mentioned by Lumière in the song that inspired the whole thing: “...beef ragu, cheese soufflé, pie and pudding en flambé!” It consists of beef ragu arancini (a deep fried rice ball filled with the ragu, kinda like a mozzarella stick without the mozzarella), mini Venison pie and an individual cheese soufflé, delicately decorated with some rose petals.
Then you are bought your traditional cake stand alongside Mrs Potts, who adds a little magic to one of the desserts and either a working Lumiere or Cogsworth (or, if you ask really, really nicely, they might let you have both of them on your table). The staff also offered to set up the table and take photos for us, which was so lovely of them to do! Honestly, world class service. I even noticed a waiter show a Belle obsessed little girl around the dining room, which was made up to look a little like Gaston’s tavern, pointing out the fire place and the art on the walls.
Instead of the traditional scones with cream and jam, this afternoon tea serves up Marie’s sweet baguettes (“…Marie! The Baguettes! Hurry up!”) with chocolate spread and apricot jam, which is delish. Then, you have your more traditional finger sandwiches: Cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon (which was not a strong fishy taste at all. It wasn’t just fish plonked on bread, they had mixed it with crème fraîche to make it more of a sandwich filling, which was different and delightful), chicken and cranberry and egg mayonnaise and cress. All of which were so, so yummy, and we were also offered a refill to boot!
Then the final plate, the plate we’ve all be waiting for; the desserts. This is where the fangirling happened. I almost didn’t want to eat it. In fact we didn’t at first because we couldn’t face destroying it. Firstly, yes, you do get to try THE GREY STUFF!!! And yes, it’s delicious. I even had to ask the dishes, as Chip, who is carrying the precious cargo comes with a little note asking you to try it! The grey stuff is actually a gorgeous white chocolate mousse.
You also get a little edible Cogsworth, which is a little tart filled with chocolate ganache and decorated with marzipan, a snowball macaron, which is a coconut macaron with a chocolate filling and a clear vanilla jelly in a glass dome with rose petal suspended in it. Mrs Potts who holds a vanilla cream to go with it.
Honestly, it was not only the tastiest afternoon tea I have had, where I honestly enjoyed every single item on the menu but the over all experience was incredible. The staff and service were wonderful, the set up was fabulous and both my friend and I had an absolute ball being treated like Princesses. This is one I would highly recommend… that is if you can get booked in, as it proves incredibly popular, but you can see why! I would pay the almost £40.00 again and again (£50 for the champers, but I didn’t have that one.)