“Where there’s tea, there’s hope.” Arthur Wing Pinero
If there’s one thing us Brits do well it’s Afternoon Tea, a tradition that’s been recognised and adopted by hotels, restaurants and cafes worldwide. Perfectly cut finger sandwiches, scones topped with cream and jam (or jam and cream if you prefer depending on your scone etiquette), delicate cakes washed down with a pot of tea of your chosen variety. There’s just something special about this indulgent ritual, undoubtedly a perfect way to enjoy an afternoon with friends, family and visitors.
Most Abu Dhabi hotels have embraced Afternoon Tea in some form or another, whether it’s a traditional affair or a completely new experience devised by a celebrity chef, a themed extravaganza or a restaurant high in the sky there is something that suits everyone’s taste and budget. I have been lucky enough to sample some of those on offer and here’s my favourite four of the moment, while they may not be Claridges or The Ritz in London they do a fine job of replicating the quintessential British tradition of the taking of tea in the afternoon.
‘Soir d’Orient’ Afternoon Tea by Eric Lanlard – Le Royal Méridien
Le Royal Méridien offers a rather lavish affair created by celebrity baker to the stars Eric Lanlard in the revolving Stratos restaurant that affords diners fabulous 360 degree panoramic views of the city and beyond. Don’t expect your standard crustless sandwiches at this bespoke ‘Soir d’Orient’ afternoon tea, it’s a real treat for your tastebuds with Middle Eastern flavours such as saffron, rose water, dates, cardamom, cumin, pistachios, bee pollen and caraway seeds all incorporated into the sweet and savoury selections reflecting the region’s cuisine and heritage.
Guests are sprayed with a specially created edible cardamon perfume evoking the feeling of being in an Arabian spice souk. Savoury options include cumin and pumpkin macarons, black pepper crab tarts and vanilla cured Scottish salmon on beetroot and caraway seed bread. The remainder of the four-tier stand features scones of orange blossom with bee pollen and the delightful raw cacao and raspberries. Pistachio financiers with Persian rose nectar, glazed pink lychee and raspberry domes and dark chocolate cannelloni are just some of the sweet options. A gastronomic experience of culinary art in an unrivalled position high above the city available at Stratos for a limited time so if you have a celebration or occasion coming reserve yourself a table, Afternoon Tea will never taste, smell or look the same again.
Afternoon Tea starts from AED 195* – for more information visit www.stratosabudhabi.com
Read more here – Review: Eric Lanlard’s ‘Soir d’Orient’ Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Tea at the Drawing Room, St Regis Saadiyat Island
Over at the St Regis Saadiyat Island resort they serve a rather splendid Fashion inspired Afternoon Tea as well as themed menus for various events throughout the year, all served in the sophisticated setting of the Drawing Room. Fancy bone china, gold crest emblazoned napkins and glorious views, this afternoon tea blends the more traditional favorites such as miniature finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and small-scale sweet treats with a fashionable twist such as mini edible tiffany boxes and chocolate covered handbag shaped cakes.
The St Regis has a long term association with afternoon tea as it was invented by the mother of St Regis founder, Lady Astor. Her legacy is well honoured at this resort, a timeless tradition that even offers guests two unique TWG blends including the St Regis Arabian Tea Blend, a red tea blended with aromatic Arabic spices and the Iridium Spa Tea Blend, a caffeine free blend with notes of almond and sweet orange named after the hotel spa.
Afternoon Tea starts from AED 140* – for more information visit www.thedrawingroomabudhabi.com
Read more here – Review: Afternoon Tea, St Regis Saadiyat Island
Afternoon Tea at The Lounge, Hyatt Capital Gate
The iconic leaning tower of Abu Dhabi aka the Hyatt Capital Gate has a more traditional style afternoon tea served in the Lounge on the eighteenth floor. Here you will find your crustless sandwiches, lightly dusted scones and British favourites such as battenburg cake.
The Lounge tea is a simple affair embracing traditional style afternoon tea served on a three tiered stand, no gimmicks or themes just a selection of savoury and sweet treats and a range of premium teas, coffees and a cheeky sparkling beverage if you so desire. Scottish smoked salmon on brown soda bread, pesto chicken on sundried tomato bread, mini brioche rolls filled with egg mayonnaise and chive are offered along with sandwiches filled with slices of datterino tomato and cucumber. Sweet treats include rosewater macaroons, mini lemon cheesecakes, chocolate cones and berry tarts with pistachios as well as the scones accompanied by an array of jams, marmalades, lemon curd and clotted cream.
Afternoon Tea starts from AED 165 – for more information visit abudhabi.capitalgate.hyatt.com
Read more here – Review: Afternoon Tea, Hyatt Capital Gate
Afternoon High Tea, Observation Deck at 300 at Jumeriah at Etihad Towers
Jumeirah Etihad Towers serves Afternoon Tea at its Observation Deck at 300 located on the 74th floor. Guests can observe the skyline and panoramic vista from a new perspective at the city’s highest vantage point from floor-to-ceiling glass windows while enjoying a refined afternoon tea experience at this elegant restaurant. Savories, gourmet sandwiches, delicate cakes and pastries are served on classic striped pastel blue crockery alongside scones on a dramatic tiered chrome and glass stand.
Homemade pastries include summer pudding, strawberry tartlets, brownies, English fruit cake and Scottish nut cake accompanied by a range of specialty teas by TWG Tea Grand Crus Prestige exclusive blends such as Silver Moon Tea, Brothers Club Tea and White House Tea. As well as the teas there are coffees, juices and a range of mocktails including a signature concoction of peach purée, apple juice, elderflower syrup, soda and fresh fruit cuts known as the the Etihad Sparkler.
Afternoon Tea starts from AED 175* – for more information visit www.jumeriah.com
While Afternoon Tea may have been started by ravenous aristocats filling a void between lunch and dinner, nowadays it’s a lovely treat and an ideal way to celebrate a special event or occasion. Whichever establishment you choose for your indulgence, remember the most important thing Afternoon Tea however it’s interpreted is not afternoon tea without scones. Pinkies at the ready!
All views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2016. All rights reserved. Last three photos used courtesy of the respective venues.
* (Subject to 10% Service Charge and 6% Tourism Fee)
The first edited version of this article appeared in Dining and Nightlife Abu Dhabi magazine – April 2016