Thursday 15 August 2013

Charlotte in the City: Coronation Afternoon Tea, John Lewis, Oxford Street

Last week our intrepid London reporter, Charlotte Vowden, ventured into the City for a very special royal themed afternoon tea at Oxford Street's John Lewis!

When she’s not tucking into a banquet the Queen is partial to a spot of afternoon tea and if Her Maj pays a visit to John Lewis on Oxford Street she’ll find a special Coronation treat tower that's been created with her royal tastebuds in mind.

A patriotic red, white and blue three-tiered macaroon oozes with ganache and disintegrates deliciously when you eat it, and a miniature victoria sponge topped with a single ripe raspberry tastes as good as it looks. But it's the Dubonnet (a tipple the Queen is known to enjoy) soaked fruit cake (her preferred baked treat) she would definitely make a beeline for. I've never tasted the wine-based aperitif and it's somewhat out of fashion, but it definitely gave the dense fruit-packed slice a spicy dimension.

As this was a celebratory occasion I opted to crack open a bottle of bubbly and toast the Queen with champagne instead of a brew, and it went down very nicely indeed. The hot drinks menu however featured classics that would make the perfect accompanying cuppa. 

Least successful were the finger rolls. I couldn't find fault with the presentation, they each had a garnish and were neatly positioned in a star shape around the centre of the tea stand, but aside from the coronation chicken filler, more on that in a moment, the selection was uninspiring. 

Originally invented for the Queen's Coronation sixty years ago coronation chicken is a royal celebration staple but John Lewis has enlisted TV chef and food writer Gizzi Erskine to update the recipe. Deciding to poach the chicken in saffron scented stock and add fresh mango and chilli salsa to finish it’s more punchy than its predecessor, which may explain why the other rolls (including smoked salmon, cucumber) seemed a little bland.

The scones scored highly in the fluffy stakes and came with clotted cream and strawberry jam,  a duo of toppings you really can’t go wrong with. 

To enjoy this royal tea book yourself into the Brasserie and ask for a window table overlooking Cavendish square, it’s a great spot for people watching. Once you arrive in store take the escalators up to the third floor and expect a warm welcome and swift service. It’s a busy venue so you’re not going to have a sedate tea-taking session but the buzzing atmosphere adds to the celebratory spirit.

Gizzi Erskine’s Coronation chicken with watercress and mango salsa and the accompanying Coronation afternoon tea will be available in the John Lewis Brasserie from 1st July to 30th August 2013 and will cost £20.13.

Charlotte Vowden is a travel & lifestyle journalist who is as happy in the mountains as she is sipping champagne and indulging on cake. Writing for The Sunday Times and other national publications keeps her busy but she’s always looking for her next adventure or afternoon tea destination.
Twitter: @charlottevowden

DISCLAIMER: As is common in the catering and leisure industry, we were provided with complimentary services for review purposes. Whilst this has not influenced our review, we believe in the full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. 


  1. That coronation chicken sounds amazing and the macaroons look so pretty!

    Definitely a tea to enjoy a spot of champagne with!

    1. I know - we're very jealous of Charlotte getting to try this one! :) x


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