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In a city famous for its classic afternoon tea, finding something different while still savouring traditional scones requires some research. Well we can look no further, here comes the Jasmine Indian Afternoon Tea at Kona restaurant, just around the corner from Buckingham Palace.

Enchanting courtyard

You might miss the entrance if you’re not looking closely; it’s hidden away in an opulent but rather secretive courtyard. A colourful elephant statue welcomes you as you approach your food oasis. It’s hard to believe that Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences, where the restaurant is located, is just moments from Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. For centuries, this place has served as a destination for royalty, celebrities, and politicians.

Despite all that buzz, taking afternoon tea surrounded by red-brick Victorian townhouses overlooking a beautifully manicured Shakespearean Courtyard, with stunning turquoise and sapphire accents and a little fountain in the middle, feels like stumbling into a secret garden far away from the city’s hustle and bustle. This is a classic that still rings out loud and clear after all these years. And like everything else about Taj 51, it offers an Afternoon Tea experience like no other.

Afternoon tea, but not as you know it

Kona has given this timeless tradition an irresistibly Indian twist, subtly infusing English tea-time favourites with the spices of the subcontinent.

There is great attention to detail, even down to the toothpick in the mini burger (yes, expect to get it!), which had tiny gems on the end. The table is covered with a burgundy embroidered tablecloth and gold and floral plates. The calming notes of classical music fill the room.

The sweet and savoury spread is set out over three tiers on a luxurious golden tray stand. Each item has been intricately and passionately made by a team of talented chefs and is presented with flair. Expect delicacies like pinwheel samosas, mini burgers, and even a whole fresh chili pepper. As our attentive waiter told us, it’s a mystery if the pepper is hot or not. Ours had probably 15% of spice and tasted fruity and delicious. Speaking of spice, many of the savoury treats had a slight kick but had just the perfect amount of spice. Especially notable is the slice of spicy chilli cheese on toast at the beginning of our feast.

An exquisite blend of traditions

Many of the dishes may seem unusual for the British palate and hard to memorise, but their taste will stay with you for a long time. Even the scones were different – saffron and elaichi served with elaichi clotted cream and rose jam.

Your chance to get another taste of Indian culture comes in the form of teas. Darjeeling is a good one to start, then Gunpowder, or upgrade your afternoon tea with a half bottle of Prosecco. But save some room for the rich and sweet homemade Masala Chai. That’s a must.

Another good thing we noticed is that Afternoon Tea at Kona is available from Friday to Sunday, with three seating’s at 12pm, 2pm and 4pm. This schedule is convenient for both customers and staff, as everyone gets food and drinks at the same time. You don’t need to sit there in envy as other guests get served first.

The spirit of Tajness

Afterwards head next door to the courtyard, or if you don’t want to leave this paradise consider booking a room in an all-suite hotel right here. The hotel interiors reflect the regal mood of the place.

Each of the spacious suites is completely unique. For example, The Cinema Suite is an ode to Hollywood and Bollywood of the 1940s and 1950s, with rare film prints, bold red hues, curios from cultures around the world, antique rugs, and vintage mirrors. Created by acclaimed Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, it feels more like a filming location on its own.

More information about The Jasmin Indian Afternoon tea and Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences can be found here.


Image credits: © Taj 51, Kona