Afternoon Tease at Volupté, 9 Norwich Street, London EC4A 1EJ
To celebrate my in-laws wedding anniversary we decided to treat them to a bit of afternoon tea and burlesque at Volupté. Friends and colleagues didn’t feel comfortable about me using the words in-laws and burlesque in the same sentence, but my mother and father-in-law LOVE burlesque.
The event is organised by Time For Tease are an events company that combine afternoon tea and burlesque cabaret, they travel all over the place and have organised all kinds of parties. They even did Kate Moss’s birthday party.
We decided to keep it a surprise and just told them to dress using inspiration from the 1920s-40s as the website suggests. Luckily they love to dress up too. When we arrived on a gloomy dark Saturday afternoon, Volupté was in a quiet street and I panicked slightly wounding if I would be just us coming for Voluptéa. Luckily as we stepped inside we found the bar full, mostly of ladies dressed up to the nines.
Cocktails ordered, I chose a Dixie Dragon lemon juice, sugar and raspberries with chilli and lemongrass gin £9, Ade a Sugar Daddy gin, raspberry liquor and wild hibiscus £9. The in-laws a Virgin Mojito £6 (my mother-in-law was hungover – am I painting a bad picture?) The cocktails were good but pricey, especially the virgin one.
We were soon taken downstairs to our table in the Cabaret Salonour room, quite intimate but not too crowded. I was a bit disappointed that the punters had made more of an effort with their 1920s gear than the staff. It is also the restaurant, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings there are two sittings – the early at 6.30pm and the late at 9.30pm, during which you may witness anything from burlesque extravaganzas and comedy to quality live music and even circus.
There was a large selection of teas on offer, English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Lapsang Souchong, Peppermint, Assam, Ceylon Tea, Chamomile, Red Fruits and China Jasmine Green Tea, Rose Congu, Japanese Cherry, Green Japanese Sencha, Apple & mango and Red fruits. TheJapanese Cherry was the winner. It seemed to be an all-you-can-drink-affair on the tea front.
The sandwiches arrived instantly, White with smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill, Walnut bread with honey-roasted ham and English mustard, Basil bread with egg mayonnaise and cress, Wholemeal bread with chicken and avocado and my favourite Beetroot bread with roasted beef and horseradish. Being a non-cheese eater, luckily there was only one variation that I couldn’t eat.
A glass of champagne is included in the price, my mother-in-law perked up a bit after hers. We loved all the mismatched crockery, the very cool teapots were lusted after.
Ade and I hadn’t been to a burlesque show before, thankfully this was a nice gentle way to do it. Drinking a nice cup of tea whilst watching semi-clad ladies seemed to make it feel less scary. The ladies are called Gateaux Vivants, taken from the term Tableaux Vivants, meaning ‘living picture’. Before radio, film and tv they were popular forms of entertainment at theatre and parties.
There was a total of seven shows, some short with barely anything happening and some longer. We liked Amber Topaz the best, she was the most amusing and passionate. The audience was mostly hen parties, some were couples, which somehow felt a bit odd.
Halfway through the show we spotted the alcoholic tea and coffee inspired cocktails on the menu, served in either a large (£20) or small (£12) teapot. We opted for the From Russia with Love – Coffee, Vanilla Vodka, Kahlua, vanilla syrup, double cream. it was a bit like Baileys coffee. Cakes arrived, there were Scones with jam and clotted cream, some were chocolate, we’d never had a chocolate scone before, it was good but you can’t beat the original. There was also Gingerbread squares, chocolate cupcakes and Mini Meringue Baubles.
As we were tucking into our scones we were approached by Rae Jenkin, a lady selling nipple tassels in an usherette tray, we thought they were cupcakes at first. When the show was coming to a close, we asked the in-laws what they thought of it, being the burlesque buffs that they are. They seemed to really enjoy it, and thought it was good value. It was probably quite tame and low-key for them, they’d like to return to see Ivy Paige (one of their favourites).
Volupté is just £42 per person when calling 020 7831 1622, this includes entry, a table for the afternoon, entertainment and a tea service; the bar opens at 1.30pm, guests are seated from 2.30pm and the show starts at 3pm. Volupté is offering diners the chance to indulge in languid lunches and decadent dinners throughout the festive period: by day, choose from one to four-course menus and a show ranging from just £39 by night, opt for two or four courses and a show from £50. There is also the Volupté NYE Vintage Ball with The Black Cotton Club – dinner, live band and burlesque cabaret show. Three-course dinner, show and club £90. Club only (from 9.30pm) £20