I feel a bit mean writing this post. Because at the end of it (or quite frankly from the first picture), you’re going to want to book this experience immediately. I’m so sorry my lovely readers. For its not just sold out, it’s got a waiting list as long as the film credits. But please don’t be too disheartened. Grab a baguette, a cup of tea and hum ‘Be Our Guest’ as you read on #sorrynotsorry.
How many times have you watched Beauty and the Beast, daydreaming of the dancing feast that Belle gets to just eat a spoonful of? Wanted to have a snowball fight with a beast? Resisted running among long grassed fields singing ‘I want adventure in the great wide somewhere… I want it more than I can tell”. Too many times to remember? Yeah me too.
Ask 4 year old Eppie what she wanted to be when she grew up… “Belle”. Ask 24 year old Eppie… “Belle… with more cocktails”.
After an intense yearlong anticipation, waiting for the Emma Watson remake (hating and loving her for stealing my dream role), I finally got to re-feel those first butterflies of tearful excitement as the cinema screen came to life with those five melodic ‘bonjours’.
This wasn’t just a beloved childhood movie. It coincidentally became a significantly more special story as my VFX man came home each night, after secretly bringing life to the household objects.
In celebration of the new release, The Kensington Hotel launched an exclusive afternoon tea at their restaurant Town House, originally for just the month of March. Unbeknown to them (or known… probably), fans will do anything for just one more slice of magic and so tables booked up in a matter of days, leading them to extend the Tale as Old as Time experience until November.
Naturally I was one of those avid enthusiasts and so booked a spot on a sunny Saturday afternoon for me and my Disney loving ladies.
The Town House is a beautifully elegant space, painted in eggshell and furnished in luxuriously soft seating. As we waited to be shown to our table, more and more pairs of well dressed ladies arrived, each looking equally eager. One little girl wearing her obviously favourite party dress, entered excitedly, holding her Belle doll tight (which I may or may not also have…)
We somehow ended up with the best table in the room, a spacious Persian pink sofa padded with elegant cushions. Our waiter was the perfect man for the job; attentive and welcoming, filled with enthusiasm and classically French.
Earl Grey and English chamomile tea was poured, a menu presented and anticipation grown. The setting was idyllic, rows of books illuminated as natural light poured through the high windows.
Our first course quickly came, presented simply on a pretty plate. Three bitesize canapes teased us, influenced by the beloved characters and treasured foodie scene…
Beef ragu (and saffron arinchini with lemon crème fraiche)…
Cheese soufflé (and roscoff onion pissaladiere)….
Pie and… well Venison actually, shot by Gaston himself of course. There was some serious head bobbing whilst we tucked in. The beef was probably my unexpected favourite of the three, packed with a little more flavour than its neighbours.
The main event came next, two stands cautiously brought over with smiling faces balancing on the top. As they were placed in front of us, our waiter quickly sprung back to grab the host, a Lumiere candlestick who sat in the middle.
He smiled at our animated faces, knowing that this table was one who would enjoy every moment, listening to him intensely as he described each level of the stand.
“At the bottom we have Marie’s baguettes, because where does Belle begin her song?” “THE BAKERY” we squealed. The sweet brioche baguettes were served with apricot preserve and a light chocolate pot. I enjoyed the look of them so much I didn’t even consider missing a classic scone.
Next, a plate of tea sandwiches; potted Argyle smoked salmon and crème fraiche, roast Devon red chicken with cranberry, cucumber and cream cheese, and naturally egg mayonnaise and cress. All soft, flavourful and fresh.
But of course the most anticipated selection rested on the top. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the chocolate Cogsworth tart, layered with ganache.
Next to him were beautifully presented clear pots of vanilla jelly, a single rose petal floating in the middle. Our waiter took each one in turn, revealing a gorgeous china Mrs Potts who poured fresh cream to leave a light white layer.
Her ceramic son was presented with a card that read ‘try the grey stuff’… well we didn’t hesitate. A thick velvety white chocolate mousse was sickly sweet, topped with grey cream.
The last addition to the sweet story platter was a small snowball macaron, to represent the lover’s bonding snow fight of course. Flavoured with chocolate and coconut, it was probably my favourite piece of the lot.
After about 15 minutes of capturing every angle, we finally took our first bite, enjoying every mouthful, with more to take home in our doggy boxes. As a leaving addition, we were each given a Speculoos and marzipan golden yellow dress, a true lasting impression of what had been an immaculately presented afternoon and all for just £35 per head.
I had to tear myself away from the magical collection of characters, a Chip sneaking away in my bag… no not really… but it was seriously tempting.
We left The Kensington sweetly satisfied and more than a little cheery, bobbing and humming along to Be Our Guest until the early hours.