July 23, 2016

Cutter & Squidge Delivers a Hello Kitty Afternoon Tea That’s Almost Too Cute to Eat

             Our favorite furry feline, Hello Kitty, has arrived in the UK for a purrfect afternoon tea. In the first of its kind in Europe, the bottom of Cutter & Squidge’s Soho café has been transformed for the summer into a Secret Garden. It will surely delight big, as well as little, kids. My friend and I arrived with empty stomachs and we left with full ones, fuelled by a sugar rush each and with extra cakes in tow.

             Cutter & Squidge was dreamt up by two food-obsessed sisters, whose humble beginnings started in a “compact” kitchen in North West London. They pride themselves on keeping their fat and sugar content to “just as much as needed to make something delicious.” Does that mean we’re exempt from all of the calories? Oh well, it’s probably best not to think about it! However, you can rest safe knowing that everything at Cutter & Squidge is made from scratch, with no artificial flavorings, preservatives, or colorings (made instead from fruits, vegetables, spices, and flowers) in sight.

             We were met with jars of pink lemonade with hot pink bows perched on the straws. As we sipped them to combat the sticky heat of the day, we were led downstairs into what our waitress jokingly referred to as the “Hello Kitty dungeon.” A tree sprouting plush Hello Kitty toys and a lit-up version of the character were standing guard. Comprised of leafy archways, soft, colorful cushions, and wall decals of Hello Kitty and friends frolicking in London, if this garden was indeed a dungeon, I wouldn’t mind being locked up in there forever – held hostage by adorable captors.

             After choosing from a range of loose-leaf teas, a stack of bamboo steamers swiftly appeared at our table. My friend’s face was obscured from mine by this tower of treats, but I’m sure both of our mouths were agape. Our waitress unpacked and talked us through the layers one by one. Just as I was thinking that there was no way we would finish it all, she told us that our afternoon tea was unlimited – an endless supply of indulgence!

             We strategically started on the bottommost layer, with tasty finger sandwiches that came in salmon and chives, hummus and pepper, and cheese and red onion variations. The cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches were shaped like Hello Kitty and were even stamped with her signature red bow. It seemed almost barbaric to eat them, but that feeling soon came to pass.

             Plain or fruit scones served with clotted cream and jam is a traditional staple of afternoon tea. Cutter & Squidge has updated this British classic with savory cheese scones and red pepper relish and cream cheese spread, paired with coronation crackers imprinted with Hello Kitty’s face.

             I urged my friend to hurry up eating, prodding, “Can we move to the next layer now?” You see, my sweet tooth was aching and I was eager to start on all of the dessert delights, especially since I’d already seen what was yet to come. An afternoon tea that contains more biscuits and cakes than anything else is exactly what I would call my kind of afternoon tea.

             That brought us to the heavenly layer of fluffy pink marshmallows, Hello Kitty-shaped berry jellies, chocolate cake truffles, and strawberries (it’s important to get one of your five a day, right?). My friend doesn’t hanker after sweets in the same way that I do, so he graciously offered me some of his share. I was slowly but surely being defeated by my afternoon tea at this point, where I think my eyes had grown bigger than the size of my stomach. I was determined, so in the pursuit of a well-rounded blog post, I carried on dear reader, I carried on. It's tough work, but someone's got to do it. 

             Red velvet Hello Kitty biscuits, blondies (blonde brownies, where vanilla is used instead of cocoa), and Biskies were unfolded. Cutter & Squidge is the home of Biskies, which are part biscuit, part cookie, and part cake filled with lightened buttercream, handmade jams, caramels, and more. I squashed mine down into a little sandwich to make it an easier mouthful. In the middle were pools of matcha and chocolate dipping sauces. Dunking the sugary biscuits in the rich sauce led to an unlikely and flavorful concoction that had me plunging in for more. Cutter & Squidge is also known for its decadent Dream Cakes, which line the shop windows in dazzling designs of layered sponge.

             We triumphantly reached the top layer and my friend and I shared a look as if it say, “We can do this.” It turns out we couldn’t, but it wasn’t for our lack of trying. The apple pie mousse in its glass container with a bow biscuit for decoration was to die for with its sour and creamy blend. The delectable chocolate mud pies looked like they might be my favorite of the lot, with chocolate cake wedged between helpings of icing, finished off with more icing, a Hello Kitty white chocolate disc, and gold flecks. Those were the cakes I took away with me and I managed to eat them later on (how I did that, I have no idea) with a nice cup of tea.

             It goes without saying that everything was delicious and Cutter & Squidge pulled out all of the stops to create a Hello Kitty dreamland. On one of their outside windows, as well as desserts and afternoon tea, they promise happiness. By the end of our dining experience, we were replete with the emotion and completely satiated. We less walked away from the experience and more rolled away from it…

             Hello Kitty merchandise is available for purchase in the shop, as well as themed and signature edibles. Hello Kitty’s Secret Garden is open for afternoon tea at Cutter & Squidge until September 14th, at £40 per person and Tiny Tea for those aged eight and under at £20 per person. Book a table here

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