Le Cafe Afternoon tea - Sofitel, Abu Dhabi

It had been a while since I had Afternoon Tea, High Tea or any variation of this fabulous and indulgent custom. A Groupon 2 for 1 offer came along and off we went to the Sofitel for Afternoon Tea. I am not sure if I went into the history of afternoon tea. No, keep reading. I will not bore you. Briefly, Afternoon Tea introduced in England, bridged the gap between lunch and dinner, traditionally served around 4pm, between the two meals. However, it catered mainly for the upper classes because the working classes were on a different schedule. They usually got home at 6, famished. This is where High Tea was then introduced - it was a bit more substantial in what it offered. 'HighTea' it is said, is called that because you had it at a higher table and chair, while Afternoon tea was at a lower, more relaxed table.

Well, moving on to Afternoon tea at The Sofitel. Unfortunately we booked for a Friday and arrived at 4pm, around the time they were clearing the tables after brunch. It was therefore a bit noisy. Afternoon Tea is served in an adjacent lounge, Le Cafe. It is a gorgeous lounge with white sofas and tables making it feel fresh and light.

The seating is challenging. I found the table much too low and the chairs, while comfortable, seemed inappropriate for eating. The lounge, I felt, is more designed for drinks and very light snacks. Our orders were taken and I helped myself to a newspaper, one of about 8 available to guests. There was also  selection of magazines. Good.

As usual I ordered the Earl Grey. Boring. predictable.  I know, but while I am adventurous in other areas of dining, I do not sway from Earl Grey. The tea set consisted of a 3 tier tray stand with your usual selection of afternoon tea goodies, with some interesting and delicious options. I loved the foie gras and fig jam combo sandwich. The salmon was pretty good too. However, I don't see why they've gone with the three level sandwich. It is big and lacks the look of refinement. The sweets were ok, with nothing particularly memorable. However, a stand-out item was the scones. I think scones are the centre piece of  a good tea, and while they were crumbly, I still enjoyed them.

A disappointing aspect was the service. Somewhere they got my tea order wrong, and first time I was given mint tea and later I was offered some Chinese/Early Grey blend. Pretty basic stuff here. The end result was service that was pretty standard. You know, with all these 5* properties coming up, hotels need to realise people will not return to a restaurant because the food was exceptional or the view spectacular. They will invariably return because the service was exceptional.

Overall it was nice. A safe word. I cannot say I was wowed. Service makes a huge difference.