This Midsummer Night’s Dream Pop-Up Is Absolutely Enchanting

Midsummer pop-up, Swan at the Globe ★★★★★

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 71 months ago

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Last Updated 31 July 2018

This Midsummer Night’s Dream Pop-Up Is Absolutely Enchanting Midsummer pop-up, Swan at the Globe 5

Whether you’re a die-hard Shakespeare-head or you’ve never read a single line of his works, it’s hard not to be enchanted by this new Midsummer Night’s Dream pop-up.

Taking place at the Swan at the Globe on Bankside — an area overrun with crowds — it’d be easy to write it off as a tourist-chasing gimmick. In reality, once we’re seated in a wisteria-draped (air-conditioned!) terrace three storeys above the Thames, the crowds fade from sight and mind, and we kick back with the satisfied smugness of someone who believes they’ve stumbled across a real secret.

There are two parts to the Midsummer pop-up. By day, the Balcony Room masquerades as Titania’s Tea Garden, where afternoon tea is served among a backdrop of ivy fronds and trailing wisteria. Yes, this could be selfie heaven, but the white linen tablecloths add a touch of class and refinement to proceedings.

That’s not to say it’s stuffy — quite the opposite. The waiting staff are a delight, and the low-level chatter creates something of a buzz. The crockery, a bespoke design by illustrator Annika Wester, adds a touch of eccentricity, each plate bedecked with a different quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the characters doodled on the delicate tea cups. We find ourselves gazing around every few minutes to take in the beauty and elegance of our surroundings.

The three-tier tea is a traditional affair, beginning with sandwiches at the bottom, swooping tentatively up via scones to the cakes. The mushroom tart is a highlight of a savoury section, served warm and full of flavour. That said, none of the sandwiches disappoint.

Mulberry is the scone of choice, a unique twist on the usual sultanas or choc chips. Again, they're served fresh out of the oven, the warmth making them satisfyingly crumbly. We find ourselves asking for more cream, the pot we're served not quite stretching to four scones, but the staff are more than happy to oblige.

The final layer defeats us, and we end up boxing up the majority of our cakes too take home. We do manage to squeeze in the vanilla infused rosewater jelly though, its subtle, contrasting flavours making a refreshing palate cleanser on which to end the meal.

The second part of the pop-up is Puck’s Gin Bar, which takes over in the evening. We don’t stick around to sample this, but if the cocktail served at afternoon tea — a delicious Love Potion with a prosecco base, subtly flavoured yet very refreshing — is anything to go by, it’s bound to be a charming way to spend a midsummer’s night.

A Midsummer Night's Dream afternoon tea is at Swan at the Globe until 2 September 2018. Afternoon tea costs from £28.50 per person and needs to be booked in advance.