Ask any restaurant guru worth their salt about London’s most beautiful dining rooms, and Dalloway Terrace will undoubtedly get a namedrop. Set in the heart of London’s literary quarter, Bloomsbury, and tucked away from the throngs of Tottenham Court Road, it’s maybe no coincidence that this spot shares its name with one of Virginia Woolf’s most enigmatic and renowned characters, Clarissa Dalloway. Whatever end she might meet, her life revolves around things that glitter: high society, fancy parties and fine fashion. The clientele evidently are game for the aesthetically pleasing in life, and Dalloway has to sit up there as one of London’s most-grammed spots (what’s more, the adjoining Coral Room is a beauty of an Art Deco bar decked out in velvet, glossy materials and sleek parquet floors: the sort of place you’d find a fur stole-sporting Wes Anderson character passing their time).
Nowadays, the mantle ‘Instgarammers’ dream’ is said in hushed tones, as frankly the relentless papping of dishes, interiors and artfully arranged cocktails has emerged as the ultimate faux pas when dining out. But frankly, the fact remains that people photograph things that look good, and boy, is Dalloway Terrace easy on the eye. For 2019’s summer season, the dining space has been styled with a Sri Lankan jungle theme: bird of paradise with their orange and purple spikes, orchids, clematis, and seemingly endless, lush ferns and monstera leaves. I don’t go so far as having a feel to see if the blooms are artificial, but when they look this effective, I’m inclined not to care. And this all provides a backdrop for dreamy-summer marble tables and garden chairs. It helps that it’s a completely glorious day, withe mercury hitting 26 (there are plenty of both suntrap and shady tables for afternoon-tea nibblers and lunchers alike). And if the weather’s not so kind, Dalloway Terrace is heated year-round too, meaning the terrace vibes can be enjoyed regardless of the time of year.
The menu has taken a decidedly tropical turn for summer 2019, in line with the jungle climes: a burst of rainbow-colour finger sandwiches included marinated cucumber and cream cheese; light and zesty smoked salmon, creme fraiche, capers and lemon on Guinness bread; devilled egg mayo on milk bread, and roasted red pepper & hummus (there was a coronation chicken option too, for carnivores). All were gorgeously fresh, made with squishy breads and light and elegant, flavourful fillings. Flutes of brut, lemongrass tea and an iced coffee (a range of iced teas and coffees are on the bill for the warmer months) were prefect accompaniments.
Scones passed the afternoon-tea-devotee test: plenty of height, every-so-slightly crumbly, and served with an ice-cream-scoop-sized helping of clotted cream, and heaps of seed-filled raspberry jam.
The sweet layer was the epitome of summer, with the jungle theme weaved through each dainty dessert in the form of tropical fruits. Pineapple and red chilli terrine was potent yet light and fresh, with a texture not unlike the fruity innards of a layered apple pie. Gorgeously smooth chocolate mousse served in a pastry cup was offset with the crunch of cashew praline and juicy prune compote. Another sweet with a savoury kick: playful mango and coriander tart was refreshing yet indulgently creamy, served with a shard of peppercorn meringue.
Whether you’re headed to Dalloway for the dreamy-backdrop photo opportunities, or simply after a twist on tradition for your next afternoon tea outing, this is a spot that’s emerged as one of London’s most popular for very good reason. Get your pastry forks ready – and your cameras, of course…
16-22 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3NN