Like all self-described royal watchers, this is a big week for me. I have followed the comings and goings of Queen Elizabeth II et. al. ever since I was a little girl; my grandmother, who emigrated from the U.K., passed down her love for the British Royals. And my passion and fascination have only grown since. Prince William was one of my OG celebrity crushes; I’ve dressed as Princess Kate for Halloween (yes, I know she’s a duchess, not a princess). I even wrote a paper on the Queen when I was in sixth grade (our shared name may have had some role in that) and came away with a great admiration, maybe awe, for Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
So needless to say, the occasion of QE2’s [very handsome] grandson marrying an American (!) actress (!!) who attended Northwestern University (!!!) has me pretty excited. I have big plans to rise before the sun and watch all the festivities with a fascinator atop my head (Amazon is truly our greatest gift) and a cup of tea in my hands. But if you’re looking for a less homegrown celebration, may I suggest a traditional English afternoon tea? You already know about Chicago’s plethora of options, but the Western suburbs have their own fair share of posh spots. Here are three places to celebrate that would make Queen Elizabeth herself nod in approval – and maybe even crack a smile.
The storied hotel on the Gold Coast is renowned for its high tea, but the Drake’s legendary tea service is also offered at this suburban outpost. High tea is offered every Friday and Saturday afternoon (reservations are required), complete with finger sandwiches, fruit bread and scones, and some pastries that sound positively regal. (You know the Queen loves a French macaron!) The Drake also offers special options for little ones, including petit fours and hot chocolate in lieu of tea, so you can include your little princes and princesses in the fancy fun. $34.95, $15 kids.
Drury Lane has a reputation for high-quality theater (South Pacific and Seussical the Musical are both currently running, with shows into June), but its on-site restaurant in Oakbrook Terrace also earns a standing ovation. On Saturday afternoons, indulge in a traditional afternoon tea that features exotic finger sandwiches (tenderloin and arugula, anyone?), scones, desserts, and a wide assortment of black, green, white and iced teas. Each grown-up guest also receives a complimentary glass of champagne, so you can toast the royal newlyweds in style. $30.
If you’re looking for an afternoon tea that comes with a side of charm, this Downers Grove locale is hard to beat. Pinecone Cottage is a little more quirky than courtly. Its tea’s theme changes monthly — it’s currently an adorably thorough take on Alice in Wonderland — with four courses of goodness that are sure to appeal to even your pickiest eater. Make a reservation for the full experience or stop in for selections from the menu that you can enjoy at the shabby chic spot, which is open Wednesday-Sunday afternoons. You won’t want to be late for this very important date! $28.50.