Saturday, 29 May 2010

the kitchen cafe at hampton court palace

Probably a slightly unusual choice for the first review, and not strictly in london but in Surrey. Today was a bit of a family trip out to celebrate my Mother-in-Law's birthday and as with all British days out it pissed with rain for the majority of the time. Still we got to see some recreational jousting and you don't get that every Saturday.

Of course the most important bit is how the cakes rated, which is where the Kitchen Cafe comes into it's own. Situated in the Kitchen wing of the Palace it serves a relatively large selection of cakes and comparatively tight range of afternoon snacks including a bargainous Afternoon Tea at £5.25 which included a hot drink of your choice, a scone with clotted cream and jam and an additional cake. Sugar heaven.

The range included a variety of brightly coloured cupcakes, which although attractive looked suspiciously as if they may have been bought in, cookies, brownies, victoria sponge and so forth all quite attractively displayed behind glass. I picked a brownie, as you can always judge a good cake kitchen by it's brownie, and a Valhrona hot chocolate to accompany my scone.

All of this is consumed in the original tudor cafe area itself, at long communal wooden tables, with metal chandeliers and original lead pane windows lighting the area below. If this were some kind of neighbourhood cafe instead of a place to grab a spot at one of the best known tourist destinations in the UK it might be rather pleasant rather just a place to not stand in the cold, which somewhat ruins the decadent nature of having a two-cake lunch.

The scone itself rated somewhat poorly. it was alright, but would be vastly improved by serving ready to slice, with individual pots of clotted cream and jam, ready to spread thickly instead of pre-assembled. Plus I've tasted fresher...

The brownie was an altogether more promising affair - with flaked almonds on top but no nuts in the brownie, it was rich, gooey, almost torte like in it's consistency. However, for me, the perfect brownie needs to have the thinnest crispy cakey-ness to the top and this brownie was almost too soft, too rich for it's size.

I've heard a lot about Valrhona, it makes a regular appearance at the Southbank's Chocolate Festival, and seems to be touted and flouted as the ultimate in liquid choccy indulgence, the Mazocco of hot chocs and it didn't disappoint. Made well, with a foamy top it was again, rich and tasty but with none of the chalkiness and general mouth coating unpleasantness that ruins so many other hot chocolate drinking experiences.

The Kitchen gift shop was although worth a look - stacked with eyecatching sweeties and books on how to take afternoon tea in style, as well as those blackbirds for the top of pies (don't they make you just want to start making pies so you can use them?). One particular book that caught my eye was 'Recipes for Roses'. I know there are various cake recipes using rose petals as ingredients, and I'm sure countless Moroccan spice blends but it just sounds really sweet.

Whilst I wouldn't go out of your way to enjoy their selection of cakes you can be certain that sweet toothed sightseers will not be disappointed. On that note i leave you with some detail shots taken with my oh-so-quality iPhone camera.

1 comment:

  1. Wow- love all the pics! Can't think of a better subject to write about than cakes xxx


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