The Caramel Room, Knightsbridge
The Berkeley Hotel
020 7235 6000
by Alotta Waffle
The Caramel Room sounds like a part of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory - down the corridor from Fudger's Library or alongside the Bubble Gum Bathroom perhaps. Actually, it's The Berkeley's breakfasting room and what it lacks in Oompa-Loompas, it makes up for in white-jacketed waiters whisking laden silver platters to tables of business types, American families and country aristocrats en route to Harrods.
Ever the fish out of water, I managed to bag a table last Saturday - stocking up on all the (proper) newspapers at the table beside the entrance. Whilst my companion selected a cholesterol-free egg white omelette with grilled vegetables from the a la carte menu, I walked around (and around... and around again) a buffet table that is surely every serious breakfaster's heaven. Bypassing the origami-like portions of smoked salmon (fishy breath before 11am is socially dubious), I began with delicately sliced papaya, perfectly proportioned pineapple and shot glasses full of plump-to-bursting blackberries. I rounded the corner and came across a contender for the best homemade muesli in town, (generous on the nuts without overdoing the raisins), then made the final turn towards the serried ranks of miniature pastries, tarts, croissants and doughnuts. It was Willy Wonka all over again.
Back at the table, the "firm but not rubbery" omelette was devoured as I made my way through a third giant pot of vanilla tea. We left after a further hour of paper reading, me light-headed from gallons of this tea that was so moreishly sweet I was powerless to resist, my companion light-walleted from the £70 bill. Breakfasters here will need to have a budget considerably bigger than their appetite. Or alternatively just a love of Roald Dahl.