Royal Afternoon Tea at The Rubens at the Palace
I feel I should begin by saying that I absolutely adore the tradition of Afternoon Tea. I could say it's because I am English on both my mother and father's side of the family (with a bit of German and Swamp Yankee thrown in) but I'm pretty sure that I would adore it regardless of my heritage. There's just something about taking time out of your day to sit back and enjoy an array of finger sandwiches, scones and assorted pastries coupled with a pot or two of tea that seems so civilized and refined - and Lord knows we could all do with a good dose of civility and refinement these days!
Though Afternoon Tea here in America can be nice, it's not quite as nice as those you can sit down to in Great Britain and one of the nicest that I've been to was at The Rubens at the Palace in London. Located within easy walking distance of Buckingham Palace and directly across from the Royal Mews - home of Her Majesty's royal horses, livery and coaches - their Royal Afternoon Tea is a quintessentially English experience.
Served in the Palace Lounge with its rich interior and large windows overlooking the gates at the Royal Mews, guests are made to feel like royalty themselves as they are treated to incomparable 5-star service. Upon my arrival, I was led to a comfy couch overlooking the street where I was able to watch people come, go and stare in the window as I enjoyed what was certainly one of the best Afternoon Teas I have ever lifted my pinky for!
Recently commended in the 2019 Afternoon Tea Awards, the Rubens Royal Afternoon Tea can be accompanied by a fully serviced bar offering Champagne or cocktails so I added a little sparkle to my tea and treated myself to a Martini Royale made with Martini Bianco, Martini Procescco, freshly squeezed lime juice and fresh mint leaves. Not only was it very tasty but it was also very pretty!
As for the tea itself, I chose The Royal Jubilee Blend which was a bespoke blend using two of the most famous varieties of black tea - Yunnan and Assam. The tea was created in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and as I was having tea basically in Her backyard, it seemed appropriate to lift a cup in Her Majesty's honor!
My Afternoon Tea began with a variety of sandwiches: Smoked Scottish Salmon and Horseradish Cream Cheese on a Beetroot Bread, Coronation Chicken and Toasted Almonds on White Bread, Egg and Watercress on Basil Bread, Cucumber and Cream Cheese on Caraway-seeded Bread, and Ham, Cheese and Tomato Chutney on Onion Bread.
They were all quite delicious and though my server offered me more - which was tempting! - I demurred in order to save room for the other deliciousness that I knew was coming!
Next up were these traditional plain and chocolate chip scones served with strawberry jam and clotted cream. Aren't they gorgeous? Though I have tried mightily, I have not been able to bake a scone that looks - or tastes! - anything like these!
Though there are two ways to eat scones, I opted for the Cornish style which is to split your scone in half and then top each half with jam before adding the clotted cream. Others prefer the Devonshire method which is to spread on the clotted cream first and then top it with the jam but as it's been said that the Queen eats her scones with the jam on first, who am I to argue with Royalty? Cheers!
Once my sandwiches and scones were devoured (politely of course!) it was on to the Pièce de résistance of my Royal Afternoon Tea - the pastries! It's okay if your mouth just watered, mine did too when these beauties were set before me! Paying respect to the tradition of Afternoon Tea whilst incorporating fresh twists along the way, the menu at The Ruben features mouth-watering pastries that are influenced by Royal events and dining trends throughout the centuries. Yes please!
The pastry kitchen at The Rubens is led by the talented pastry chef Sarah Houghting who produces the freshest pastries and cakes for guests to enjoy. Some of those are what you're looking at here on this plate of pastry perfections. From left to right there is: an English Rose Macaroon, White Chocolate and Peach Mousse, Queens Jammy Dodger Biscuit, Rubens Royal Chocolate Biscuit Cake, Lemon Meringue Slice and Gin and Tonic Cheesecake. Oh my indeed!
What you're looking at here is the remnants of my pastry feast! Even though I've read that there isn't a use for a fork during an Afternoon Tea (it's a spoon and knife affair), I'd been given one and so made use of it with my desserts. With the exception of the Lemon Meringue Slice (I love Lemon Meringue!), I left a little bit of all the others. It pained me to do so but it would have pained me more to have finished them off! My server was kind enough to offer some to take back to my hotel with me but I resisted the urge to say, "YES! Oh please yes!" Sometimes my willpower just amazes me!
With one last view of the gates at the Royal Mews across the street from me, I sipped the last of my tea and reflected on what a remarkably wonderful experience it had been. Even though it can be awkward at times to be dining solo, I never felt rushed or like I needed to get the heck out of there as people were looking at me with sympathy. Instead, I think they were looking at me with envy and they rightly should have! Solo or in the company of others, the Royal Afternoon Tea at The Rubens at the Palace is an experience to be savoured and enjoyed to the fullest.
The Rubens at the Palace is located at 39 Buckingham Palace Road in the Westminster section of London with the nearest Tube station being Victoria as well as the larger Victoria Train Station just a short walk away. It's an ideal location if you're planning on doing any sightseeing at Buckingham Palace, Westminster Cathedral, St James's Park and more. If you're there with the family, The Rubens welcomes children under 12 to enjoy a 'Little Prince and Princess Royal Tea' with a kid-sized selction of sandwiches, scones and pastries. Bookings are highly recommended and can be done on their website.
For those with dietary restrictions, the Royal Afternoon Tea experience can be adapted to meet vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu requirements. Menus are available to peruse online and their team would be delighted to discuss any additional requirements prior to your booking. Please note that bookings for Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten-Free Afternoon Tea must be made at least 24 hours in advance otherwise The Rubens is unable to accommodate reservations.