Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Ritz, London, England

Pure indulgence at the Ritz!

The High Tea inspector's most cherished wish was to experience afternoon tea at the Ritz London- and during the month of May this dream came true!

After reading Helen Simpson's book on High Tea at the Ritz I have been looking forward to this outing and I believe this could be the ultimate goal of all tea lovers.

High tea is offered at the Ritz London in the wonderful Palm Court. The Palm Court is quite magnificent- the decor is elegant and delivers a relaxed ambience in which to sit and soak in the splendour and listen to the pianist tapping out the many requests from the very well dressed tea lovers.

Immaculately presented waiters showed us to our lovers' seat table and offered the quite extensive choice of teas or coffee available. My husband's choice was the Chun Lee and mine was the Jasmine. We both enjoyed our selections, however, I tried the Chun Lee and was happy I went with the Jasmine. The three tiered cake stand came out with the second tier plate empty- this had me a little puzzled. On the bottom plate was afternoon tea sandwiches, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise, cheddar on sundried tomato bread, ham, chicken and mayonnaise and cucumber. All were delightful, my favourite was the chicken and mayonnaise. Waiters with large platters of extra sandwiches went from table to table offering more sandwiches.

After the sandwiches the waiter removed the empty second plate and to my delight returned with warm freshly baked scones with home made strawberry jam and clotted cream. Oh my, they were very special indeed and I was quite determined to have my two scones whilst realising that there was still another tier to go. Around again went the waiters with extra warm scones for anyone who could possibly have room for more.

Tea pots were constantly refreshed and by this stage the high tea inspector was feeling like she was in paradise. Then for the third tier, afternoon tea pastries and fresh cream cakes. I must admit it was quite the struggle to do them justice, they were all beautifully presented and a taste sensation. My favourite being the fruit and custard basket, yum. Unable to finish our cake selection the waiter was more than happy to send a fresh plate to our room- now that is service!

To avoid disappointment you will need to book for your choice of either Traditional, Champagne or Celebration afternoon tea. I booked back in January and there was only two places available. Also there is a dress code requiring men to wear a jacket and tie also no jeans and trainers.

For a totally satisfying indulgence I recommend anyone who can, try the High Tea at the Ritz London. They do it so well.

The Sheraton on the Park – Sydney, Australia

High tea on the park

Sitting overlooking a green Hyde Park with autumn leaves falling, and the Archibald Fountain in the background, is a great setting for a High Tea. Sheraton on the Park in central Sydney has taken good advantage of their location to provide a delightful High Tea venue.

Saturday and Sunday are booked well in advance with a comprehensive and exciting smorgasbord of High Tea delights. Monday to Friday is more your traditional High Tea which we enjoyed on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. Service is efficient and friendly with no booking required for parties less than 5.

My partner decided on the hot chocolate as his choice of beverage, served piping hot in a chocolate bowl, mine was green tea, but the menu was extensive with all coffees and the various loose leaf tea selections. Champagne was an optional extra.

Our three layer stand was impressive with smoked salmon and prawn open sandwiches on a dark rye bread, dainty egg sandwiches, and rolled spinach and anchovy sandwiches on a light pita bread. The scones were both fruit and plain, lightly warmed and served with heaps of strawberry jam and King Island cream - yum! The top layer of our stand was filled with delicate and delicious treats such as mouth melting chocolate macaroons, mini chocolate eclairs, cheese cake slices and fruit/custard pastries.

At $40 each we thought it was a delightful treat which we both enjoyed.

My only complaint was the china - thick white cups, saucers and plates which didn't compliment the chef's creation of a fine High Tea.