Alba

An elegant setting for afternoon tea in Abu Dhabi Discuss this article

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With its chandeliers, vaulted ceiling and dove-grey walls, this hotel lounge is classic and elegant. There’s no live music, but the sounds of tinkling china and rustling newspapers fill the room.

Unusually, tables are arranged for groups, but that means couples (like us) are seated in the archway leading into the hotel corridor, next to the stairs and kitchen. That could help explain why the waiting staff appear to forget about us as soon as we are seated, even though the lounge isn’t particularly busy.

After some time we are asked if we were ready to order – and we reply that we’d like to see a menu first.

We’ve come for afternoon tea, which is served from 2pm to 5pm. There are various options, all of which are reasonably priced, borderline cheap. It’s for this reason the selection is not replenished as you eat.

We opt for the Gold Tea, which is served on a silver three-tier cake stand. There is a slice of dark rye bread, which is stale and dry but saved by juicy wedges of tomato and a sliver of portobello mushroom; an open sandwich with a generous wedge of brie, topped with chutney; and a slice of bread with a smudge of butter, salad leaves and sliced meat. Three warm chocolate chip scones, dusted in gold, make up for the savoury snacks: even though they crumble when cut, they are moist and served with clotted cream and flavoursome strawberry jam.

The tea also comes with a selection of bitesize pastries, including cheesecake with blueberries and gold leaf, a red velvet cake decorated with a raspberry filled with syrup, a delicious toffee-filled choux pastry and a strawberry dipped in white chocolate. It is meant to come with sparkling apple juice with gold leaf – a novelty, and part of the reason we choose it – but this doesn’t turn up. The waiting staff never catch our eye or come close enough for us to get their attention, so we have little choice but to wait until we’ve finished to ask for it. We are told there is none left. No apology.

We also share the Bubbly Pink Tea, which comes with sparkling pomegranate juice – this is also forgotten about, until a gentle reminder. The cheaper option, it doesn’t come with scones; instead, we share two slices of tough, stale white bread with fat, juicy prawns on top, and two slices of bread topped with smoked salmon, capers and a sprig of dill. The pastries are similar to those in the Gold Tea, with the addition of a raspberry macaron and a pink marshmallow covered in sugar.

The extensive tea menu is impressive, with options ranging from rare white tea from the mountains of Nepal, fruit, green and herbal teas to pu’erh, a prized fermented black tea from China with an earthy flavour. You can also have chilled chai masala, which costs extra.

An alternative to afternoon tea is to order a cake from the display; and until the service and savoury selection improves, this might be a wiser option.

The bill (for two)
Gold Tea Dhs110
Bubbly Pink Tea Dhs65
Total (excluding service) Dhs175

By Time Out Abu Dhabi staff
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.

Details

  • Location: The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi
  • Tel: 02 818 8888
  • Travel: Khor Al Maqta'a
  • Website

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