A Mad Hatter’s Brunch in London

For the last couple of summers, I have dedicated a little space here on the blog to our wedding anniversary, once reminiscing over our charming, honeymoon luxury safari lodge, which holds such a special place in our hearts and once revealing some of the wild animals we saw in Selous, Tanzania. As controversial as it might sound though, there is another anniversary that I revel in acknowledging (perhaps even a little more) and that is the anniversary of the day we met.

By the time the wedding day arrives, (at least if things are going smoothly!) most couples have already established what they mean to one another and have all but legally committed to a life together. It is a momentous and sublimely gleeful whirlwind of a day, rather in contrast to the day you first meet your (future) spouse , which tends to be filled with far less expectation and little to no awareness of what this first meeting will one day blossom into. In many ways, in my opinion, that day is even more life-changing.

I for one certainly had no idea, when I turned up for a February Sunday brunch blind date six years ago, that my entire life was about to change for the better. (Here’s more about that unusual first date.)

pop up brunch London supperclub

So when the fun-loving, innovative foodies at Tabl recently invited us to sample Christabel’s brilliantly bonkers Madder Hatter’s Sunday Brunch, exactly 6 years to the day since Pumpkin and I had met over Sunday brunch, it seemed like too strange a coincidence for us to turn down.

unique Sunday Brunch London

Rather like Alice in Wonderland, we too were entirely oblivious to the kooky, colourful pop up/ supper club world we were about to enter when we walked to the destination at a mystery location in East London.

top London supper clubs and pop ups

We should have known this would be no ordinary brunch when a couple of glances at Google Maps led us to a residential area with a giant face at its epicentre.

Christabel's pop up supper club London

The Mad Hatter’s Brunch Party

girly brunches London

After taking our coats and bags on arrival, the hostess at Christabel’s suggested we grab some accessories to get into the spirit of things, from a box containing hats, giant clock chains, bunny ears – anything goes in the Mad Hatter’s world.

Mad Hatter's Party London

And you would have more luck getting through an airport without a passport than we did getting into the living area without a cocktail, so keen are they for you to walk in armed with one of their gleaming, shiny Mad Hatter’s cocktails.

pop up brunch cocktails London

A fair bit of home-envy ensued when we found ourselves ogling the plush waterside flat we had just arrived at, a property with such allure that we felt tempted to part ways with our London house and downsize into a chic urban space like this one.

East London supper club pop up

The final guests arrived and took their seats and what unfolded over the next couple of hours was a curious melange of food-based games, artistic challenges, culinary experimentation and defiance of all standard restaurant convention, one of the hallmarks of exactly the type of unique, dining experience that Tabl are keen to showcase.

Glitter Shortbread Jenga food games

For example, when was the last time you went out for brunch and competed with your spouse in a round of Jenga – or rather more exciting – shortbread Jenga with a sprinkling of glitter on top, no less.

Christabel's Mad Hatter's Brunch cocktails

Whilst others around us took the more mature approach of conversing over some fine food, Pumpkin and I felt no shame in harnessing our competitive streaks. A LOT of shortbread was consumed  in the process.

Mad Hatter's Brunch Menu

As the Christabel’s hosts were busy preparing and plating up the hot brunch dishes, we dabbled in the croissant platters circling the room. As pro wedding guests, we have become quite the experts at spotting canapes from a distance and making a bee-line so we put our skills to good use to sample one of the warm and beautifully flaky croissants, filled with Mancheego cheese, roasted red pepper and pesto.

chocolate brownies glitter

Our hawk-eyes showed no delay in noticing the salted caramel glitter tarts and gooey chocolate brownies laid on heart-shaped, tiered cake stands mimicking grassy lawns, which were endearingly adorned with a scattering of deep red petals that added a classy and fanciful flair to the display.

Mad Hatters Themed Party London

More odd was when I found myself tempted by the celery. I am good with my vegetables but celery is something I plainly do not understand. I often wondered if all the size zero, smug celery eaters of the world were short of a few taste buds – but over at the Mad Hatter’s Brunch, I discovered the trick! Apparently when you slap a layer of peanut butter onto celery, a spell is cast over it that makes it absolutely addictive and leaves you in a state of mind that proactively makes you seek out more celery sticks.

pop up afternoon tea supper cubs London

Regular readers may know how much I love tea so I was pleased to find a selection of fine loose-leaf teas such as lavender and mint varieties but as nothing at this brunch could be accused of being normal, at the Mad Hatter’s Brunch, we were provided with empty tea bag cases to essentially make up our own tea choices.

themed afternoon teas brunchesmake your own tea bag

The scrambled eggs with thyme and spring honey was the dish I was most excited about and were presented like little works of art. However, in the midst of bagging myself good blogger brownie points, I spent so long on my smart phone camera photographing everything on the table (and…err….playing shortbread Jenga) that I allowed my eggs to go cold #BloggerProblems

best brunches London scrambled eggs

Fortunately, it was so well seasoned that even in a lukewarm state, it tasted delicious but my tip to future camera—happy visitors would be to put down your gadgets when the pancakes and eggs arrive. Brunch is for eating after all, which we bloggers sometimes forget 😀

Tabl events London

Many restaurants will end a meal with a little plate of petits fours and whereas at most restaurants, you eat the macarons provided, here at Christabel’s pop ups and supper clubs, you paint them!

painting macarons

Some of us were definitely better than others at this but any art disasters (and I had a good few) can be hidden in the warmth of your tummy, since the paints are all edible. Ever the wanderluster, can you spot my hopeless attempt at painting the world?!

paint your own macaronssmiley face macaron

If you do create any Picasso-esque macaron masterpieces, these can be boxed up to take home, if you can resist the temptation of eating them immediately.

Alice in Wonderland themed pop up

As brunch was drawing to a close, the hosts brought out some lovely candle-lit treats for a few of the girls at the event who were celebrating birthdays.

Couple's Anniversary Celebration London

The Mad Hatters Brunch is a wonderful spot for a girly, celebratory Sunday Brunch, as it’s a wide step away from the norm and is BYOB so we saw lots of Proessco and Champagne floating around.

Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea

A couple of rounds of applause later, we packed up our hand-painted macarons and headed off to enjoy the rest of our anniversary weekend in the glorious city that we met in.

chocolate brownie afternoon tea

And a few weeks later, when I had run out of excuses for weekend celebrations and was back to the graft of daily routines, an unidentifiable box arrived in the post. Seeming somewhat different in shape to my standard contact lens delivery, I grabbed the scissors with curiosity and beamed with delight to find a thoughtful note from Tabl, explaining that this was an anniversary gift.

Tabl pop up events London Brighton

The note came accompanied by a selection of Sweet Reason tempting treats, cosily nesting inside, including brownies, fudge and millionaire’s shortbread as well as some crystallised sugar sticks for dipping into tea. These were the perfect pick-ups for Pumpkin and I after any stressful days at work, no-food-in-the-fridge moments or rapidly needed cures for hangry outbursts.

Sweet Reason Dessert Gift Box

Disclaimer: Many thanks to Tabl for hosting us at the Mad Hatter’s Brunch and spoiling us on our anniversary and to Christabel’s and Sweet Reasons for feeding us so well (despite the impending telling-off from the dentist!)

37 thoughts on “A Mad Hatter’s Brunch in London

  1. Muddy Boots Bakes May 9, 2016 — 11:34 am

    What fabulous colours! Such a bright and happy post. Happy alternative anniversary! xx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2016 — 7:08 pm

      Hehe, thanks so much Laura! I’m probably clutching at straws with the alternative anniversary but you can’t blame a girl for seeking out more excuses for a weekend jolly! It was a really fun, quirky brunch though! 😀 x

  2. Looks like such fun! Happy meeting anniversary 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2016 — 7:10 pm

      Hehehe, thanks hun! I’m a sucker for anniversaries – meeting anniversary, engagement anniversary, wedding anniversary – anything goes really! 😀 The brunch was wonderfully wacky!

  3. Firstly, congratulations on the first-date anniversary!

    Secondly, OMW this looks like the most amazing and brilliantly creative brunch I’ve ever seen! I’ve heard such good things about Tabl’s events, so much check one out soon.

    xxx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2016 — 7:18 pm

      Oh Kasha, you definitely must! You’d have absolutely loved the fun factor with this brunch & there are so many Tabl events that have caught my eye for the future as well. I like how they’re totally shaking the norms when it comes to foodie experiences! Thank you so much for the kind wishes lovely. I know first date anniversary might seem a bit silly once a wedding anniversary exists but there’s something just so special about meeting day 😊 x

  4. You had me at shortbread Jenga! Happy first-date anniversary Shikha 🙂 Sounds like this was a deliciously creative way to celebrate! xxx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2016 — 7:30 pm

      Thanks so much Ayushi! I really enjoyed discovering all the novel touches they laid out and shortbread Jenga was definitely my favourite of the lot! Don’t think I’ve ever eaten so many shortbread fingers in one go! 😀 x

  5. This looks like so much fun!!! I’m visiting London again next year, so I really hope this is still going then! and happy anniversary 🙂 xo

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2016 — 7:34 pm

      Aww thank you Jess for your kind wishes! It was a few months ago now but I’ve had such a massive backlog with my blog posts so I’m just catching up! So exciting to hear you’re coming to London again – how long has it been since your last visit? Can’t wait to hear what you get up to & if you need any tips on anything, feel free to ask any time ☺ x

      1. It looks so much fun! The list visit was in 2013, so really looking forward to getting back! And I will certainly ask for more tips next year – any tips on Airbnbs or accommodation especially would be amazing!!

        1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 16, 2016 — 11:42 am

          Haha, eek that’s always then thing I get most stuck on when it comes to giving tips as accommodation is the one thing I never need to seek out myself!! :mrgreen: But I will definitely ask around & get back to you if I can find some useful pointers!

  6. This sounds amazing!! I would love to go on one of these and think Ste would like it too! We’ve been together 18 years this year and still celebrate both our wedding and dating anniversaries.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2016 — 7:43 pm

      I have to say, I’d never gone to many supper club type events in the past Mandy but I’m really glad this was one of the first, as it was just so quirky & alternative! And yay, I’m thrilled to hear that you and Ste celebrate both anniversaries too – that definitely makes me feel better as I was worried it was a bit cheeky and over indulgent of me 😀 And massive congratulations to you both on 18 years together!

  7. Wow, this looks amazing! Thank you for sacrificing your warm eggs so that we could enjoy the photos 😉 Sounds like a great way to celebrate your first date anniversary and glad you guys are still having as much fun together as ever xx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2016 — 7:45 pm

      Hehehe, thanks Emily!! I love how you made my cold eggs faux pas sound like a self sacrificial act of blogger martyrdom! 😀

  8. What an amazing idea! I’d not heard of Tabl before and now I must find out more! I love afternoon teas and quirky things like this, sounds like a dream trip out for me. Oh, and I think it’s lovely that you celebrate your first date anniversary – keeping love alive! 😉

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2016 — 7:51 pm

      Aww thank you Keri! I do sometimes think it’s a little cheeky to try and celebrate both anniversaries but even if it’s another excuse to get out the house & do something fun together, that can’t be a bad thing now can it?! You should definitely check out the Tabl events as you’ll almost certainly find something to your liking – I was actually quite surprised at just how many varied events, pop ups & cuisines they had! I’m a massive fan of all things afternoon tea & quirky so sounds like you and I have very similar taste ☺

  9. Wow, that sounds like a lovely brunch! I love all the colors. I’m like you in that I enjoy celebrating lots of different anniversaries (my boyfriend may not be as excited as I am, though!).

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2016 — 7:55 pm

      Hehe, my husband’s the same Julie! I’m sure he probably secretly feels like it should be one anniversary or the other that we celebrate not both 😀 But despite that, he actually ended up having a really fun time at this brunch – event when he lost out to me at Jenga!!

  10. Now this sounds like a ridiculous amount of fun!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 11, 2016 — 7:56 pm

      Yep!! I just hope you’re better than me at painting Emma! That’s why I resorted to smiley faces on my macaron!! 😊

  11. well that certainly is a very unique concept place! Not sure if it’s my cup of tea, but very unique!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 16, 2016 — 11:43 am

      Hehe, maybe a few of the glittery chocolate brownies could persuade you Andy!;)

  12. OMG this looked like so much fun!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 16, 2016 — 2:30 pm

      It was brilliant fun Nano – such a wacky fun Sunday brunch!

  13. This looks amazing!! I totally want to paint my own macarons and shortbread jenga?! Who wouldn’t love that!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 18, 2016 — 7:46 am

      You end up eating SO MUCH shortbread Ayla!! Especially if you’re doing pretty well at the old Jenga, like I was, even if I do say so myself!! 🙂

  14. amazing! I wouldn’t know whether to eat or to just take photos:)

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 28, 2016 — 6:12 am

      Haha, I can totally empathise Tanja since my eggs went cold because I spent so long photographing! Typical blogger problems eh?! :mrgreen:

  15. This looks like great fun. I’ll definitely have to go next time I’m in London!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 7, 2016 — 9:10 pm

      It was really good fun – and actually did feel like we were in Wonderland! Definitely a change from a normal brunch!

  16. I love the idea of getting to paint the macarons! How fun!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 10, 2016 — 6:35 am

      Yes it was quite novel I thought! Really fun ☺

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