For years I have always wanted to be able to have tea at the Orangery at Kensington Palace but it never seemed to be open when we were there. Imagine out total joy at seeing it open this particular day.
This is not just any orangery. It was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh for Queen Anne in 1704 and some of the interior carvings were done by Grinling Gibbons. It is a very lovely place to have a delicious and relaxing afternoon tea or lunch.
As you walk into the Orangery you come face to face with a spectacular display of pastries, cakes, scones and desserts. One thing was decided at this point, we would be eating a sweet. We were seated at a lovely table with crisp white linens and wrought iron chairs and had a few minutes to look over the menu. I opted for the parsnip and bramley apple soup and a pot of English breakfast tea. Al ordered pork pie with chutney and salad. Joe also ordered the soup.
The soup was just perfect, thick and creamy with just a touch of sweetness provided by the apple and it was served with two slices of thick bread. The pork pie was quite an eye opener. It was sliced like a typical pie and served cold. I am sure it is an acquired taste but unfortunately it is one that Al has not yet acquired. It was not a happy choice but frankly Al is a bit hard to order for when there aren’t slabs of beef offered.
Thankfully dessert was coming and it was sure to be a treat. Al and Joe ordered the winter berry tart with creme fraiche and I ordered the Christmas pudding with whiskey sauce. I have to admit that my favorite dessert in all the world is Christmas pudding. If you have never had one you are missing something very special. Christmas pudding is a steamed pudding loaded with fruits and nuts and usually aged by soaking it in some sort of alcohol and letting it soak up the goodness. I have been know to order Christmas pudding at every meal when we visit in December so finding it still being served in January was a huge treat.
You know how it is when you dream about something, it never is quite as good as you remember? This wasn’t the case here, this moist and dense little beauty was everything I expected and even more, I was in dessert heaven and I wasn’t hearing any complaints from the dynamic duo either. Their tart was very pretty with a layer of berries running through it.
Pillars and friezes don’t come cheap. This is an expensive tea but the atmosphere is light, bright and very sophisticated. Service was very friendly and our waitress even offered to take our picture which I still enjoy looking at but didn’t include with this review.