I love French pastries but I don’t really cook them – I’m more of a bread/cake baker. If you’re fan of patisserie, or of fine dining in general, then you’ve probably heard of Albert Adriá. In 2017, he was voted the world’s best Patisierre and he’s currently got a pop up at the luxurious Cafe Royal called Cake & Bubbles. At the bottom of Regent Street, moments away from Piccadilly Circus, the location is great for attracting locals and tourists. My friend and I thought we would treat ourselves to the afternoon tea which was on offer. As you’ll see, we very much enjoyed it!
When we saw the menu there was no doubt that we’d be having the champagne afternoon tea option.
I’m sure you can agree this isn’t your normal afternoon tea menu! Not a cucumber sandwich in sight!
First up was a frozen coconut and chocolate flower and a chocolate cork. As it was a subtle, delicate flavour the server recommended that we start with the flower. It began melting in my fingers before it even made it to my mouth. ‘Delicate’ was an understatement – the bitter chocolate and light coconut were enhanced by the addition of a fruit gel and a small piece of mint leaf. Safe to say this piece didn’t last long!
The chocolate cork was outstanding. Coffee sponge surrounding an airy coffee chocolate mousse. It was served, as you can see, on half of a champagne bottle. We were informed that this had been done especially for Cake & Bubbles and they were real champagne bottles which I found quite impressive.
The second course was a palate cleanser. An orange jelly topped with pomelo citrus, papaya and Asian herbs. It was very refreshing after the rich chocolate from the first course. The salad came served under a cloche; I found a little smoke or dry ice would have really given a wow moment as I felt that this presentation was a little underwhelming.
Golden egg flan came to us like this. At first we were wondering how to eat it but our server had us turn it over where we discovered this.
Passion fruit jelly topping a creme caramel. Super smooth, rich custard with a burnt caramel at the bottom. This was my second favourite thing on the afternoon tea menu. It’s just a shame that it didn’t come in MUCH bigger portions!
The fourth course, and the show stopper, is the famous cheesecake. It is made with coulommiers cheese and coated in a thin layer of white chocolate and hazelnuts.The cheese cake was served with some delicious shortbread biscuits which were just the right side of salty.
The cheese cake absolutely blew my mind. The texture was as you would expect but the flavour was intense as it was neither sweet or savoury. My friend commented that you could almost serve it as a starter, if you were feeling adventurous. This is not a dish for the faint-hearted – it looks like a small round of cheese but when you cut into it it is smooth like cheese cake. However when you’re eating it it is not sweet, and it isn’t entirely savoury. It is confusing and delicious and I had to slow myself down so I didn’t eat it too quickly! I haven’t been in the area recently but next time I am I’m going to pop in and get one to take away. (I hope they sell it with the biscuits too). If I remember correctly, you can get this to take away for £12, which as far as I’m concerned is worth every penny.
We couldn’t leave it there as we were having too much fun so we tried a couple of other things from the main menu.
The crispy raspberry and almond éclair caught our eye first. Not an éclair in the traditional sense but a rather a hollow meringue made with freeze dried raspberries and coated with white chocolate and almonds. It was light, and so crispy. I remarked that it would have been even better with a cream filling but considered that they wouldn’t have been able to maintain the crispiness.
The final treat of the meal, as it always should be, was the “After Eight”. Again, nothing is really as it should be here. This After Eight was a strawberry marshmallow coated in cocoa.
The server told us that the idea is that it was an “all in one go” sort of thing but I wanted to know what it looked like on the inside!
There was a chocolate disk topped with a whole raspberry and then strawberry marshmallow. It is then dusted with cocoa powder. The After Eight was well balanced with sweetness and the bitter chocolate. There is also the kick of menthol from, I’m guessing, the chocolate disk on the bottom.
Cake & Bubbles is an exceptional experience. I urge you to go if you have the opportunity. If I have a chance I’ll be going it back before it comes to an end and not only for the cake – the service and the champagne were also top notch.