November 12, 2007
First let me establish my manly food credibility: I like burritos, I like bacon, I like sandwiches stuffed with chorizo. You know, big, meat-filled, burly things. Grrr.
Now that I have that out of the way, I have to admit that I also appreciate afternoon tea. Yes, dainty afternoon tea; a world normally occupied by The-Ladies-Who-Lunch, garden clubs, and seldom seen by men under retirement age. But who can argue with a plate full of finger sandwiches? To be totally honest, I can only go so far into the frilly tea world. There is always some degree of ritual associated with a proper tea service, but I can't stand too much pomp. I don't need waiters with white gloves to hand me things with sterling silver tongs, fine porcelain means almost nothing to me, and I really don't need to pay £40 for a light snack in an extremely fancy room. The Capital strikes a very nice balance: the hotel is very classy and pretty, the service is professional and unobtrusive, the tea room is cozy, and, most of all, the food is absolutely delicious. At around £18 a person for for tea, scones, sandwiches, and pastries, this is a great bargain in the world of afternoon tea.
Those looking for the grand hotel experience may be a bit disappointed as the tea room feels more like a private library than an opulent palace, but I personally appreciate the lack of pretension. Because The Capital is small and carries less of a reputation than some more famous tea rooms (although the chef was praised by Raymond Blanc), booking a reservation can be easier here than many other places, and it is conveniently right near the Knightsbridge tube station.