Review: Eric Lanlard’s ‘Soir d’Orient’ Afternoon Tea

It’s not every day I share my secrets, but it’s not every day I find such a delightful establishment as Stratos.” Eric Lanlard

The invitation said Afternoon Tea and we will all know that means CAKE! An amazing location with stunning 360 degree panoramic views of the city, a renowned and award-winning French pâtissier, delicious savoury and sweet treats, an extensive range of teas and CAKE, probably the quickest YES please I have ever answered to an invitation yet.

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Monsieur Eric Lanlard aka Cake Boy, not being impolite that’s the name of his London cake boutique, celebrity chef, TV presenter and baker of amazing cakes was at Stratos Revolving Lounge Bar and Grill at Le Royal MĂŠridien Abu Dhabi last week to launch his decadent ‘Soir d’Orient’ afternoon tea. Straight from three days in high demand at Taste of Abu Dhabi, the very amicable and charming Lanlard presented us with his bespoke and visual creations, reworking the traditional afternoon tea concept with the addition of Middle Eastern flavours such as saffron, rose water, dates, cardamom, cumin, pistachios, bee pollen and caraway seeds, reflecting the region’s cuisine and heritage.

I absolutely love afternoon tea, this English tradition is a perfect way to spend a few hours between lunch and dinner enjoying gourmet treats in stylish settings, such as Stratos.  I’ve sampled a fair few in my time in different countries, but a first for me was being sprayed with a specially created edible cardamon perfume by Lanlard before we commenced eating, evoking the sensation of being transported to an Arabian spice souk. The savoury layer of the four-tiered stand spurned the traditional crustless finger sandwiches in favour of cumin and pumpkin macarons with chicken crackling, black pepper crab tarts with coriander, vanilla cured Scottish salmon on beetroot and caraway seed bread, raw cacao roasted grass fed filet of beef on brioche with micro cress and my favourite, petit spinach wraps filled with egg mayo.

Of course there were scones, after all what’s an afternoon tea without a scone served with clotted cream and homemade fruit preserves. However a Lanlard scone is not your standard plain or sultana variety but instead the more unusual orange blossom with bee pollen and the delightful raw cacao and raspberries. The third tier housed sweet treats galore, pistachio financiers with Persian rose nectar and the most vibrant glazed pink lychee and raspberry dome on a Breton biscuit crust. The top row held the showstoppers of dark chocolate cannelloni which oozed grand cru chocolate mousse topped with a miniature caramelised spicy apple with saffron yashmak and a mango and cardamon served in small glass kilner jars with precious mango pearls. The food was accompanied by a selection of teas served by the tea sommeliers with the option to add an alcoholic Hendricks based tippling tea or champagne (see the full menu here).

Lanlard was busy all afternoon socialising with all the guests including fellow chef and local celebrity Suzanne Hussineni, a real gentleman who was happy to pose for many, many photographs, narrate snapchat videos and explain the ingredients and flavours used to create his bespoke afternoon tea, produced while working closely with the hotel’s own award-winning Executive Chef Justin Galea. Surprisingly Lanlard revealed that he does not have a sweet tooth and would choose savoury over sweet anytime, his favourite of the afternoon tea selection was the cumin and pumpkin macarons.

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This chef sure knows a thing or two about baking, he’s twice been crowned winner of the prestigious Continental Pâtissier of the Year at the British Baking Awards, earning himself an international reputation for his magnificent creations which in turn has led to him picking up celebrity A-list clients. Vanity Fair magazine called him ‘one of the best pâtissiers in the world‘, not surprising really as after starting as Navy chef in his native France he trained under the acclaimed chefs Albert and Micheal Roux as their Head Pastry Chef. He was responsible for making the late Queen Mothers 101st birthday cake complete with sugar craft corgis, Madonna’s wedding cake, a grand traditional French croquembouche tower of caramel-coated profiteroles and Brooklyn Beckham’s first birthday cake to name a few.

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As an award winning master pâtissier and international baking star, I am actually wondering when Lanlard gets to sleep these days because as well as flying around the globe and designing a range of themed afternoon teas for the Starwood Hotel Group, such as the one at Stratos,  he is the author of five books (we all received a signed copy of Couture Cupcakes his collaboration with shoe designer Patrick Cox), has presented four television series, Glamour Puds and Baking Mad and is a regular guest on TV shows including Great British Bake Off and Masterchef: The Professionals. He also has an app featuring eighty of his recipes, creates spectualar cakes for the glitterati and has opened his Market CafÊ on board the new P&O Cruise Ship Britannia. At his London headquarters, Cake Boy, he has a thriving cookery school, a cake emporium and a destination cafe serving coffee and pastries. This glamorous cafe located alongside the Thames at Battersea Reach is open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or simply a glass of bubbly and a slice of cake, apparently indulgence is the name of the game, oh la la I need to visit there on my next trip home.

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With the accolade of Gulf News best Afternoon tea in Abu Dhabi you may wonder why Stratos have introduced a new menu, you know the old saying ‘if it aint’t broke then don’t fix it’ but I can clarify that the Eric Lanlard designer afternoon tea experience was superb, I would thoroughly recommend you try it for yourself to sample the master French pâtissier’s sweet and savoury tribute to the Middle East. The divine food was perfectly presented, a true gastronomic experience of culinary art in an unrivalled position high above the city. The good news for everyone is the imaginative menu will be available at Stratos for the next twelve months, so if you have a celebration or occasion coming up or maybe just fancy having a little treat then reserve yourself a table, really Afternoon Tea will never taste the same again.

Catch Lanlard back in Abu Dhabi hosting afternoon tea at Stratos on Monday 30th November

Eric Lanlard’s ‘Soir D‟Orient’ Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea will be served daily from 3:00pm to 6:00pm at Stratos Revolving Lounge Bar and Grill.

Location: Le Royal MĂŠridien Abu Dhabi Sheikh Khalifa Street, Abu Dhabi

Telephone: 02 695 0300

E-mail: restaurants.Irmad@lemeridien.com

Website: stratosabudhabi.com

Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: stratosabudhabi

Read more about Stratos in my previous posts The Taking of Tea in The Afternoon, Revolving Bar in the Sky and Hooray for Cooler Weather

I was invited to attend this event. All the views are my own. Unless otherwise stated all photos on this page copyright Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved.