Alice In Wonderland Takes A Dark Turn In This New Afternoon Tea

Alice's Queen of Hearts afternoon tea, Kona ★★★★☆

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 52 months ago

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Last Updated 31 January 2020

Alice In Wonderland Takes A Dark Turn In This New Afternoon Tea Alice's Queen of Hearts afternoon tea, Kona 4

Alice in Wonderland. But in dark mode.

That seems to have been the brief for Kona's new Alice's Queen of Hearts afternoon tea, replacing the more pastel-hued Alice in Wonderland menu at the same restaurant.

Gone are the whimsical 'drink me' potions, pastel cakes and floral vintage china tea cups, replaced with a much more sophisticated menu, and a strong red and black colour palette.

That's not to say that the detail has been compromised. If anything, the Kona team have taken things up a notch, with unique Alice-themed crockery at each place setting, beautifully designed cakes, and a chess and playing cards theme running through the whole meal.

The sandwiches are served in formation as soldiers, the coronation chicken standing guard over its salmon, egg mayo and cucumber chums on a chequerboard plate, edible stickers offering a nod to the card theme.

The cakes, meanwhile, are chess pieces — and masterpieces — served on their own chequerboard platter, each one representing a different character or aspect of Lewis Carroll's story. The Queen of Hearts herself takes the convincing form of a banana cake with a raspberry glaze, her ruffle a white chocolate heart, and her noddle a fresh raspberry. Off with her head, indeed. Yum.

The Queen of Hearts, surrounded by her delicious subjects

Battenberg gets a dark makeover too, with redcurrant and chocolate cake squares replacing the traditional yellow and pink, a criss-crossed quilt of chocolate icing bringing the whole thing together. The clock face macarons from the previous Alice menu have survived, this time strawberry flavoured and darker in colour, an ideal fruity palate cleanser.

And you need your palate cleansed after indulging in either of the chocolatey delicacies in front of you. The dark chocolate tea party hat is a fanciful, mousse offering, messy to eat but worth battling through if you're a cocoa fan. The No White Roses cupcake — a red velvet base topped with chocolate ganache and a red icing heart — is too rich for some tastes, with several remaining half-eaten around the table at the end of our meal.

What little room is left on the table is decked out with playing cards, flowers, and one-off oversized hats, a nod to the Mad Hatter. There's no doubt that the meal has been designed with Instagram in mind, but happily, the taste of the food lives up to its appearance. We were always told never to play with our food, but this whimsical meal might just be the exception. Anyone for chess?

Alice's Queen of Hearts afternoon tea at Kona, Taj 51 Buckingham Gate, SW1E 6AF. It's available daily from 3 February 2020, and costs £45 per person. Vegan and vegetarian versions are available with 48 hours notice.