“I went to the estate agents the other day and they said my flat has gone up by £100k!" says one local resident at the launch of the new Royal Quarter Cafe restaurant on Buckingham Gate, a short walk from Buckingham Palace. It seems a supply of early morning coffee isn't the only benefit that can be had by removing the boarding on an unused building.
Contemporary design and floor to ceiling windows (and a popular mix of home-made soups, salads and sandwiches, along with the ever necessary cakes and pastries) bring a bit of light, space and comfort to the Buckingham Palace area along the lines of The Quarters Groups' other cafes in Heals, on the Kings Road and in Battersea.
That said, Royal Quarter Cafe isn't the only restaurant in the area and it's always handy to know where else to eat near Victoria before settling for station serviceability.
There is no better place to enjoy the much-loved traditional English occasion of afternoon tea than sitting back in the Palace Lounge at The Rubens at the Palace Hotel overlooking the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace. The traditional afternoon tea features a selection of mouth-watering finger sandwiches and delicious sweet treats including a selection of freshly baked scones from our scone menu of traditional, raisin, buttermilk, white chocolate and lavender, savoury cracked black pepper and parmesan and wholemeal orange, honey and currant.
Bbar & Restaurant is an elegant mix of safari chic and colonial cool. The menu is international, but with a South African accent, lent by dishes like Springbok fillet and grilled Boerewors sausages. The two bars serve 110 wines (more 50 by the glass) from an eclectic list of old and new world producers and passionate mixologists prepare over 60 cocktails. Being close to Victoria Palace and the Apollo Victoria theatres, bbar is an excellent option for pre-theatre dining.
Palm Court won the coveted award of excellence from the Afternoon Tea Guild a few years back and the head pastry chef won the Pastry Chef of the Year from the Craft Guild of Chefs, so her pastries definitely make the afternoon tea worth a visit. Soothing harp music plays every day in this Art Deco lounge, and it's conveniently close to Buckingham Palace.
Veering away from Buckingham Palace into the greenery of St James' Park, the popular Inn The Park sits right by the lake. It offers snacks, coffee and cake, through to full blown lunches and dinners, inside and alfresco. Loads of light, loads of people, loads of inviting well priced food; this bar and restaurant and its food are restorative treats.
Back towards Victoria, The Mango Tree Thai restaurant behind Buckingham Palace on Grosvenor Street offers more formal dining and highly rated Thai food with good value set menus. Since opening back in 2001, the restaurant has become well established, won many awards and provides a soothing antidote to working in Victoria.
If chips are closer to what you want (albeit quality chips), the Balls Brothers bar and restaurant at 50 Buckingham Palace Road offers well priced bistro food with an English edge, a vast array of wines and cocktails, and a contemporary space that is a move away from their cloistered basement venues in The City.
For those, however, who want to keep the royal connection after experiencing the allure of Buckingham Palace, an indulgent afternoon tea at the Goring Hotel on Grosvenor Gardens (just a few minutes walk from Victoria) is a great way to keep the day as refined as possible before hitting the hub of Victoria in full thrust.
If, however, tourist and travel pursuits have really taken their toll and your feet just can't take any more, take the easy option and nip across the road from the palace into the Rubens Hotel on Buckingham Palace Road. Indulge in something substantial in the Library Restaurant, and if you really don't fancy travelling home from the station, indulge even more and stay over in one of their 160 rooms.
Three words which might usually make any independent bar-loving drinker's heart sink are All Bar One. However, you might be pleasantly surprised by the commercialised drinking-spot offering on Buckingham Gate. There's a special cocktail bar upstairs which serves up all the classics plus a few house favourites, and a huge outdoor drinking area, replete with the chain's synonymous wooden decking. It's also one of the only bars in the Buckingham Palace/Victoria vicinity to open past midnight, so worth a peek after work. Look out for special offers on prosseco, house wine and tapas - the nibbles are a tasty feature on the menu too.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Leonard Bentley (Share Alike).
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