“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Henry James
Last Saturday was a perfect afternoon. The weather was fabulous and I had an invitation to partake in the quintessential British custom of afternoon tea, just with a difference. Scones, with cream and jam you say, perfectly cut finger sandwiches, scrummy cakes accompanied by the finest selection of teas, well that all sounds most delightful, yes please! The twist was this little celebration of tea took place in a revolving restaurant with 360 panoramic views across the capital, 26th floors up in the sky at Stratos .
If you are a regular reader (if not, welcome) of my blog then you know it’s no secret that I am a big fan of the newly renovated Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi. I have frequented both the Market Kitchen restaurant and Stratos Lounge quite a few times already so when a lovely invitation to attend a bloggers ‘Tippling Tea’ afternoon popped into my inbox, I was excited and accepted straight away. Pinkies up darling!
A stalwart ritual of the British Empire since its introduction in the late 1800s, afternoon tea has been replicated all over the world and Stratos is no exception, except unlike some other venues it takes place in a lavish revolving setting that’s decorated with the perfect palette of colours, furniture and textiles, custom designed elegant fine china, impressively delicious fare, unrivalled views and a first-rate level of service all of which make it stand out from the crowd
Think Great Gatsby, a bygone era of decadence and excess, the roaring twenties and that’s the vibe of Stratos decorated with its rich golds and creams with an added touch of Art Deco. Afternoon tea is a formal occasion but the Stratos version offers a welcome air of informality, a place to relax take in the ambience and enjoy the scenery.
The menu is imaginative and well presented filled with the usual suspects made with freshest quality ingredients but taken to a new creative level. A beautifully presented three-tier cake stand offered a selection of finger sandwiches all of equal proportion (mine tailored to my and a fellow guests vegetarian requirements), a bottom tier of perfectly filled Viennese bridge rolls (including the traditional coronation chicken and egg for us veggies) and a top-tier filled with an enticing layer of tea pastries, the red-velvet creation was calling my name from the moment it arrived, honestly it was!
Of course afternoon tea, wouldn’t be afternoon tea without a selection of teas. Stratos offers a fantastic choice of the finest teas, twenty-one to be exact and a tea sommelier who knows his leaves. From the traditional Black teas to Earl Grey, White, Green and Flowering teas as well as the more exotic blends of Oolong, Pu-erh and herbal infused varieties. I choose a ‘statuesque and full-bodied’ black Assam tea and there was a pleasant smell of different aromas around the table with everyone’s different choices. Click here to see all the full selection of teas available.
Unfortunately I was driving so I was unable to partake in the ‘Tippling Tea’ like some of my fellow guests who enjoyed a pot of Hendricks, Cucumber, Raspberry and Elderflower punch. I really wanted a glass of Louis Roederer Brut Premier or Moët & Chandon Rosé with my tea so next time I’m definitely taking a taxi! There are three exquisite menus to choose from for the afternoon tea experience at Stratos created by Head Chef Grant Ballinger. The traditional Stratos Afternoon Tea which I had is served with the finest quality of teas, the Tippling Tea served with the pot of aforementioned punch and a champagne version with a glass of bubbly to accompany the assortment of yummy baked goods.
Just when I thought I couldn’t possibility eat another thing (really who am I trying to kid except myself) out came a batch of warm scones fresh from the oven to replace the plate of Viennese rolls. Tradition dictates that you MUST eat at least one scone at afternoon tea and who I am to mess with tradition, so I selected a scone and smothered it in homemade strawberry preserve and lashings of clotted cream. Oh my, it was so delicious my words cannot do it justice but to summarise it was perfectly crisp on the outside with a light and fluffy warm inside, hopefully the photos will help while my words fail me.
The finger sandwiches were replaced with a selection of appealing looking tea cakes and even though I was actually so full by this stage, I couldn’t resist trying a piece of the iced lemon cake which was a zesty tasty triumph. Politeness and good manners stopped me from asking for a doggy bag but I was so tempted to pop a scone in my handbag for later when no-one was looking but I didn’t (honestly I really didn’t). Now by this stage I was actually full to the brim having consumed at least a weeks worth of calories in one sitting!
Stratos have perfected this centuries old tradition, seamlessly blending the old custom with a modern permutation but still with an air of nostalgic charm from a bygone era. This coupled with attention to detail and impeccable service from manager Brian and his team (that I’ve come to expect from this hotel) means that the Stratos Afternoon Tea is a very pleasurable experience and a perfect way to while away an afternoon.
So the question you need to ask yourself is, ‘What’s more dignified in the afternoon than warm scones fresh from the oven smeared with lashings of jam and dolloped with clotted cream and accompanied by a pot of tea, or a gin infused punch or maybe a glass of champagne?’ Nothing? I agree so don’t delay, grab your diary and book in an afternoon tea date at Stratos with friends or family or maybe even a visitor you would like to impress.
The problem with Stratos is the decision of when is the best time to go as during the day the views across the Arabian Gulf and the city skyline are stunning but at night the view comes alive with a sea of lights. A first world problem you might say, my recommendation would be to go to afternoon tea, sit back and soak up the ambiance and then stay on for delicious sundowner cocktail or two whilst enjoying the day-to-night vibe and everything this fabulous 360-degree revolving lounge and grill has to offer.
Afternoon Tea Packages
Stratos Afternoon Tea ~ AED 170 (inclusive of a selection of teas chosen by tea sommeliers)
Stratos Tippling Tea ~ AED 220 (inclusive of a pot of Hendricks, cucumber, raspberry and elderflower punch)
Champagne Afternoon Tea ~ AED 270 (inclusive of a glass of bubbly)
Stratos Revolving Lounge, Bar and Grill
Location: Le Royal Méridien Hotel
Open: Monday to Wednesday and Saturday – 3pm to 2am. Thursday and Friday – 3pm to 3am. Sunday – Closed.
Telephone: 02 695 0300
I was invited to this event but the views are all my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.