With all the little stresses of an average week, Team TMN is no stranger to the typically English desire of solving everything with a cup of tea. So, when we heard that a certain hotel was launching a new afternoon tea, we were happy to take our unwinding somewhere slightly more upmarket…
What: The Palace High Tea Buffet
Where: The Palace Downtown Dubai
When: Every Wednesday and Saturday, 2pm – 6pm
The promise: “Guests looking to make the most of their afternoon can savour traditional and contemporary dishes, featuring a delectable selection of hot and cold appetisers, entrees and desserts, as well as pairing their experience from our line-up of over 25 different varieties of premium loose tea and infusions.
Did it deliver? Taking in the elegantly traditional Arabic interior, Team TMN made our way into the lobby of The Palace Downtown Dubai where the high tea was being served. While a fairly sizable venue, the atmosphere created was intimate and relaxed by the variety of comfortable sofas and table settings; definitely somewhere you could settle in for a catch up with friends or afternoon with the family.
After being led to our table, Arnand – The Palace’s charming Tea Sommelier – gave us an informative and frankly fascinating tour of the multitude of teas on offer from the TWG brand – not just your average English breakfast here, he even introduced us to the quaint library where we were able to polish our knowledge on the culture of tea.
Settling for a gorgeous smelling Assam blend, we were served with a refreshing mint mocktail to cleanse the palate while we perused the offerings of the buffet. Although it might seem a slightly unusual concept to have high tea without the accompanying stacked trays, the buffet proved a winning idea as it allowed us to fill our plates with exactly what we wanted – there wasn’t going to be a bite left!
We started with an assortment of cakes and light savoury bites, with the variety of brownies, cheesecakes and éclairs being particular favourites along with the assortment of finger sandwiches. In another twist to traditional high tea, we were served a selection of hot entrees to the table – a sharing concept that ensured the food remained hot and full of flavor. All perfectly cooked, the salmon quiche and seafood puffs were definite winners, cleverly portioned to ensure you could try a little of everything. Naturally, high tea wouldn’t be complete without homemade scones, which were light and fluffy and offered a mixture of plain and cranberry; the only critique we had was the need for more clotted cream!
Finally, there was the Royal Al Bayt Ice Tea presentation. Admittedly, Team TMN had never given ice tea much thought and certainly not at a high tea; yet this proved to be the highlight of the afternoon. Served to the table on an elegant gold tray set, each ice tea was presented in crystal glassware, a thoughtful flourish which created a personal touch. Each recipe has been created in-house, and we sampled the vividly coloured teas ranging from the amerana ruby to the imperial garnet and the intensely blue Al Bayt citrine – but the stand out was the amethyst ice tea, whose blend of passion fruit, vanilla and purple flower syrups in chamomile tea, made for a deliciously unique beverage. An experience unlike anything else we’ve seen on offer, this concept was a perfect way to round off the afternoon.
The verdict: The Palace High Tea Buffet certainly isn’t one of your run-of-the-mill afternoon teas. Having really stepped it up with the focus on tea as well as the food, they have gone beyond a simple high tea to really stand out in creating a leisurely afternoon experience. Full of delightful surprises and with the price set at just AED 180 per person, it’s an afternoon worth every penny!