Afternoon Tea at The Cadogan, Knightsbridge

And now for something a little elegant…

The Vibe

Henry James wrote that ‘there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea’. Whether or not it’s the perfect opportunity for a date depends on your requirements. The décor would please your grandmother. If there’s music playing, it will be a piano sonata. You will probably be the youngest couple there. But it’s cosy, sophisticated without pretension, and a slice Englishness you don’t get to experience everyday (perfect if you’re trying to impress an oversees visitor). As Afternoon Tea goes, The Cadogan tea is the value-for-money version of the Ritz, without the dress code.

The Order

A full spread of Afternoon Tea is the only thing worth going for here, but make sure you opt for the addition of a glass of Champagne to get things going. Take time to choose between the fifteen teas, and take note of your date’s choice too: are they more akin to a smokey Lapsang, delicate Rosebud or just a classic Breakfast? Finger sandwiches (crusts sliced off, of course) lie on the first layer of your tea stand, and include particularly good smoked salmon. They are however surpassed by the scones, the highlight of this and any English afternoon tea. Warm, light, perfectly fluffy, they are matched with Devonshire clotted cream and jam.

The Game

Unlike most venues, late afternoon here is not the lull in the day where tables need to be filled. However the room never feels crowded, as each group is granted a sofa or two, so there’s no danger of anyone listening in. You might need a second glass of champagne for the hours to fly by, but you will be welcome to sit back and soak up the atmosphere without any rush. Emerge into daylight ready to move on to a Knightsbridge bar. Or if wallpaper and archaic furniture had you from the start, check in to a room upstairs.

The Faults

Any afternoon-tea aficionado would take issue with the lack of home-made jam, especially with scones this good.

Sex Factor

1 – unless your date resembles Mr Darcy…

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