She's been a billionaire for a while and an icon in Japan for ages, but this new Hello Kitty Pop Up Cafe in Cutter & Squidge is Kitty's first in Europe. We couldn't resist an invitation to check out her latest London venture — afternoon tea.
We're excited, but dubious as we descend into the basement of Cutter & Squidge's Brewer Street store. Will there be a complete cuteness overload? Are we too old for this?
We're greeted by smiling staff, one with the trademark Hello Kitty bow in her hair. The basement's dressed as a secret garden with fake leaves running across the ceiling and huge Kitty murals on the walls. It's a little trippy — Hello Kitty meets Alice In Wonderland, but with the promise of cake. There's no tea to be seen and instead we're met with bottles of pink lemonade and prosecco, complete with a bow-decked straw.
At the table, we're relieved to see less cats and subtle Kitty-printed napkins and blue china. They've even tied the cutlery together with specially printed ribbon.
The treats arrive in bamboo steamers — sandwiches include humous and red pepper, smoked salmon and some Kitty-shaped cucumber ones. Aside from the salmon, it's all vegetarian. There's a savoury scone too, with some tasty pepper relish and cream cheese. We're also intrigued by the Coronation Cracker. Further inspection reveals it's branded with a Kitty face and is slightly spicy. We're busy "yum-ing," at this point, but manage to grab some quick pictures of the neighbouring 2ft-high Hello Kitty mural.
The sweet stuff has always been the star at Cutter & Squidge, so we're expecting great things from the creators of the Biskie. We're not disappointed. From a fizzy Pink Lemonade Marshmallow, we move on to a Jelly Kiss, a truffle-style ball with a jammy filling. A lip-lickingly good chocolate ball we identify as a Cake Truffle, but we tear ourselves away from this long enough to get involved with Kitty's Mud Pie — a chocolatey tower topped with a Kitty face. There's a good combination of fruity and chocolate and we're pretty pleased that nothing's too sugary.
There's still more hidden at the bottom layer of the bamboo tower. We unpack Mama's Apple Pie Mousse, a cinnamon foam topped with a biskie bow, and the Strawberry Milkshake Biskie. It's our favourite, with a just-sweet-enough biscuit and fruity buttercream.
We're still wiping this from our face, when we have to leave. We grab some more photos with a huge London mural and plunge back into the reality of a wet London night. The tube seems sadly lacking in pink after this.
If you're a Hello Kitty fan, afternoon tea here is a must. She's on every wall, there's Kitty topiary and even a specially imported fire extinguisher. Non-Kitty lovers might find there are a few too many cats, but for a tasty tea and pretty good value, we can't fault it. Near purrfect.
Cutter & Squidge, 20 Brewer Street, W1F 0SJ