The frabjous world of Wonderland was the sort of place I longed to go to when I was a child. With magical potions, tea parties and talking animals, the very thought of it was intoxicating.
I can’t say that I’ve now visited Wonderland in my adult life, but I have visited the dessert restaurant at Cafe Royal to sample head chef Sarah Barber’s Alice inspired menu, Sarah in Wonderland: a 5 course tasting menu with matched drinks.
While the dining room is opulent, it still feels casual, but the menu is every bit as fantastical as it sounds. Our first course was the Milky Way.
Comprised of silky smooth goats cheese, wild honey and earthy beetroot in puree, cube, crisp and dust form, this dish was a perfect example of ingredients working in harmony. It was balanced, in that every mouthful worked perfectly together and each ingredient brought out the best in another. Matched with the delicate dryness of Prosecco, it was a triumph from the first bite. My expectations were high for the remaining courses!
Our next course was Chicken Foie, with Foie Gras, poached quince, crisp toasts and sweet brioche on the side. Once again, this dish was pleasing to the eye and the mouth. The Foie Gras was simply delicious, and paired with the quince, in my opinion an underrated fruit, again everything married wonderfully together. I could easily have eaten more of this! This was paired with a sweet wine from Loire. I don’t usually drink sweet wine, and on its own it was a little too sweet for me, but when tasted after the richness of the Foie Gras it worked very well.
Then it was time for the first of our three dessert courses.
Aptly named the Queen of Hearts, this beautifully presented dish had flavours of raspberries, Champagne and roses. It was fresh, sweet and had multiple textures which made every bite different. This was paired with the Enchanted Garden cocktail, a gorgeous gin based drink that was so pretty and pink.
For our second dessert, we had the Mad Hatter.
Stunning presentation again, this dish was a cherry and chocolate extravaganza, with Kirsch in the glass that looked like something from a lab, kirsch soaked cherries and a Black Forest Gateau inspired chocolate bomb. This was so much fun to eat and drink and really evoked that sense of wonder you’d associate with the Mad Hatter’s tea party. This dish was paired with a sweet plum sake which was strong, but very drinkable!
Lastly, in true homage to the book, we had Eat Me, Drink Me.
This final dish was a chocolate malt shake and a snickers dessert, which was absolutely delicious. The malt shake was well rounded, with a lovely sweet flavour, while the snickers was rich and indulgent, with layers of chocolate, caramel and peanut. It was a real taste explosion, and left a luxurious flavour lingering in my mouth. Our final course was paired with Sauternes dessert wine, which was the perfect ending to our meal.
We also received an unexpected petit four in the shape of a playing card emblazoned with the Queen of Hearts, which arrived with the bill, a lovely touch.
At just £62 each for food and wine, I thought this was incredibly good value, especially for Central London. The presentation of the food, the thought which had gone into designing the dishes and curating the wine was evident and the whole experience felt very special. Our waitress was also superb, explaining everything we could have wanted to know about the dishes and ensuring we were well looked after all evening.
Whether you love Alice in Wonderland or not, if you’ve a sweet tooth, you’ll certainly love this menu.
The Dessert Restaurant by Sarah Barber can be found at Cafe Royal in London. The menu is available to view online where table bookings can also be made. My meal was paid for entirely by myself and all opinions are, of course, my own.