Lily Vanilli to launch Afternoon tea at restored Theatre Royal Drury Lane

This October, Lily Vanilli, the London-based baker to the stars, will open Afternoon Tea in the Grand Saloon of Theatre Royal Drury Lane, affectionately known as The Lane, following a £60m restoration by Andrew and Madeleine Lloyd Webber.

A self-taught baker and owner of her Columbia Road bakery for over ten years, Lily has taken influence from the rich history of the theatre to create a decadent Afternoon Tea that is a playful, modern-day take on the glamorous Regency era.

Whether stopping in before a show or looking to spend an afternoon indulging, Afternoon Tea will be open for all, not just theatre-goers. Guests will be seated in the soft pink and green marble-lined room beneath glittering chandeliers to tuck in to delicate pink lemonade tarts with elderflower jelly set with tiny hand-casted, gilded chocolate cherubs and a mini sticky toffee pudding with an oozing centre of custard and salted caramel.

Dark chocolate sponge cake, piped with buttercream in the decorative style for which Lily is so well known and layered with a biscuit crunch and salted caramel, will also be served generously by the slice with whole cakes on display and available to take away as guests leave.

Savoury bites will include madeleines topped with lapsang-souchong glazed salmon and pickled fennel, bitesize cannele´s with whipped ricotta and pickled beetroot, and a signature Lily Vanilli puff pastry sausage roll made with Cornish sausage meat, roast bacon lardons and a cider vinegar deglaze.

Warm scones will be brought to the table with salted whipped butter, cream and homemade jam while guests sip on Rare Tea Company teas and Taittinger champagne.

To round things of, drawing on the Regency era’s trend of creative and exotic ices, a trolley will roam the room serving scoops of heady absinthe mint choc chip ice cream made with Lily’s top secret recipe, summoned tableside by guests in true Regency style.

For those looking for an extra touch of luxury, Exmoor caviar will be served in the Grand Saloon all day.

Vanilli said, “I am over the moon to be a part of such an ambitious and exciting project. I’ve always wanted to put my spin on a classic afternoon tea and felt that there was room to really shake things up and do something different, so working on this has been so much fun.

'I love the fact that the tea is made up of classics that everyone genuinely wants to eat: jelly, ice cream, cake, custard and sausage rolls... I can’t wait to see the theatre come to life, with guests sitting in the incredible Grand Saloon to get stuck in and revel in the hedonism and decadence that the Regency period was so well known for.”

As well as creating the Afternoon Tea, Vanilli’s role in the theatre extends to the wider food offering within the space, which has been entirely restored with the addition of new food and drink spaces open throughout the day.

Vanilli has been the brains behind the menus for The Garden, a relaxed, plant-flled interior open all day with indoor/outdoor seating and a soaring high ceiling with oversized chandeliers, and The Cecil Beaton bar in the theatre’s foyer.

Vanilli has carefully selected the best London suppliers including Happy Endings and Provisions with bar snacks including potted shrimp, duck rillettes and a selection of cheese.

On entrance to The Lane, guests will ascend the winding stairs from the newly refurbished foyer up to the Grand Saloon, where gilded high ceilings, large windows and new crystal chandeliers create a sense of Regency grandeur.

Designed by Alexander Waterworth, the pale pink walls will be lined with green marble panels, framing the large bar at the centre of the room, and for those who want to enjoy Afternoon Tea al fresco, spacious terraces leading from the Grand Saloon will overlook the Covent Garden piazza.

Afternoon Tea will be served on tiered plates with the full tea service designed by British designers Kit and Willow Kemp, featuring mythical characters takenfrom costume design illustrations for the theatre’s ballets, comic operas, pantomimes and Edwardian musical comedies over the years.

Afternoon Tea at the Lane will open in October 2021 and will cost £49pp (from £57pp with champagne). (image: Steve Ryan)