Brunch in the very building where the great Oscar Wilde fell in love with his muse, and downfall, Lord Alfred Douglas.
Brunch inside the walls that hold the secrets of Bowie, Jagger, Churchill, Woolf, Greene and more.
Brunch at the Hotel Café Royal.
For the history alone, it’s probably worth going just to breathe the air – there must be something in it.
Brunch was first mentioned in a late nineteenth century edition of Punch magazine, but in reality brunch – especially on this side of the pond – is a fairly recent source of fun and frolics for those who take a frivolous approach to the convention of meal times. Sadly in the UK it’s best known for being late morning eggs and bucks fizz.
You can enter the Hotel Café Royal through the doors where immaculately dressed doormen wait with a smile that says welcome, and a twinkle in their eye which says if you touch the Fabergé eggs then it will be the last thing you do.
I entered through the less dramatic doors of the Green Bar where the Hotel Café Royal has started hosting its Sunday brunch.
The Green Bar isn’t as opulent as the rest of the Hotel Café Royal, but it’s certainly not shabby. Brown leather chairs meet black marbled tables, and as the sunlight kisses the tiles between your seat and the bar, you feel like you’ve stepped back fifty years.
Prosecco was brought to the table, two glasses were laid down, and the bubbles began.
We looked over towards the mounds of delicious looking food on the bar, and we were beckoned over by a friendly waitress and barman.
There were croissants, breads, butter, jams, fruits, pastries, olives, cheese straws and much more and that was all in the first basket. This was the first of around nine immaculately presented platters.
I have to make special note of the houmous vegetable garden with basil soil. This delightful little dish consisted of strips of fresh vegetables pointing towards the heavens in little flower pots filled with houmous and a bright green layer of basil. It looked sublime, tasted equal to its appearance, and I wish I’d had more.
Other dishes included pulled pork, chicken and mushroom pie, bocconcini and vegetable anti pasti, smoked salmon and cream cheese mini bagels and mushroom veloute and Piccadilly buns. It was most certainly a feast to behold.
Each morsel of food was of the highest quality, and we were brought a latte on request at the end of our food so as to soften the potential of an afternoon wandering the shops with a bubbly light head.
My disappointment came though with the fact that the food was laid out, however beautifully, on the bar – and you went up to fill your plate as and when you felt like it.
I expected table service, and it would have given it more of an afternoon tea event feel. In contrast I fully expect that people who have stayed the night in the Hotel Café Royal would consider £25, for effectively a very delicious buffet, an absolute bargain.
We were the only people there when we sat down, and by the end there were probably ten or twelve people, and so it was fine – but if it was anything more than half full then to me lining up to get the food would dampen my sense of luxury. Maybe I’m expecting too much bang for my buck, but in an otherwise faultless experience it stood out.
The staff who we met, from the chef to the waitress and barman, were very thoughtful and went to every effort to be all you’d expect of such an establishment.
I’d recommend the Hotel Café Royal, and I’d recommend their Sunday brunch. It’s perfect for a group of friends, or family, celebrating or just having a nice day out in London. It’s ideally located in the heart of Soho for people who’ve come for the weekend to take in a show. They can add a little pizazz day after the night before traditional Sunday jaunt around the shops.
For those who question whether £25 for brunch is too much, then think about how much you’d spend in a chain restaurant for lunch – but throw in the highest quality food, opulent surroundings and the sense that you’re somewhere truly special.
The Hotel Café Royal is proper, without pretence, in the old school sense of proper. In my limited experience it treats those who walk through its doors equally. You won’t get any of your Waitrose customers ‘complaining about poor people getting their Waitrose cards just for the free coffee’ here.
There isn’t a dress code, judging my the man in what appeared to be carpet slippers at the next table, but it is an experience worth dressing up for.
Even without a dress code, it was a lot less formal than I imagined, but my burgundy velvet jacket did have a touch of the Wilde’s about it, so I was comfortable enough.
Sunday brunch runs from 11.30am to 2.30pm, you get the full selection of food on their menu, and you get Prosecco or unlimited Bloody Marys.
The Green Bar at Hotel Cafe Royal
Sunday Brunch £25 per person.
Available every Sunday from 11.30am – 2.30pm.
Book a table online via Open Table here. Alternatively call +44(0)20 7406 3310 or email firstname.lastname@example.org