Afternoon Tea - Chocolate Gallery, Fairmont, Abu Dhabi

About a year ago I tried the much vaunted and hyped Chocolate Gallery Afternoon Tea (at that time it was the TOAD Afternoon Tea of the Year), and I was totally underwhelmed. A year on, I thought I would try it again - only fair. From previous posts you know that Afternoon Tea is an indulgent pleasure I simply enjoy. One of an earlier post about an Afternoon Tea I highly rated was at The Sofitel, Abu Dhabi:

Chocolate Gallery at The Fairmont has  a lovely location. While it would have been obvious to locate it on the side of the hotel which overlooks the canal, they have opted for the front end of the hotel, with a lovely lawned area for kids to run. I like this. It is really surprisingly tranquil.

Spacious outdoor seating
Beautiful lawn for the kids to have a bit of a run around. 
On arrival, I was greeted by name. Always nice when you are expected. It was weird though that we were asked where we wanted to sit - I had made this clear when I made the reservation. After we were seated, we were offered menus, but not the tea menu. Strange again, I thought. Eventually we were given the tea menu too.

The Afternoon Tea menu has 3 options. I opted for the standard set.  For my choice of tea, I requested a fragrant and flavourful Rooibos, a South African tea also known as bush tea or redbush tea. The tea pots are well thought out and keep your tea hot thanks to the iron finish and flame that is provided. Good.

Functional tea pot. 
The sweet treats in its contemporary presentation.
The Afternoon tea set is substantial, interestingly presented on a contemporary metal stand. The glass serving platters reinforce that Chocolate Gallery has taken a chic non-traditional approach to their afternoon tea. This may not appeal to you if you are more traditional.

The set is is vast and offers something for every taste. The savory side includes Chicken tikka-mint mayonnaise and smoked salmon and dill cream cheese. For the sweet -toothed, the Tahitian vanilla bean crunchy profiterole was delicious. I also enjoyed the vanilla biscuit with chocolate and vanilla creme chantilly.

Basically, it was pretty standard fare, so my focus shifted to the scones. I think scones, the cream and jams are critical in an afternoon tea set. They were freshly baked. When I say freshly, I mean just that: they were warm and broke easily, without crumbling. I always look forward to the jam and cream with the scones, especially if it is Devonshire cream. Furthermore, there was also  passion fruit curd to accompany the scones and it was delightful and zesty! The cream and scones were scrumptious, but the jam was nondescript and disappointing. After finishing my scones, I took a chance and asked the waiter where they got their jam. Only then did I learn that there were pureed strawberries. A pity it was not offered initially. I find this less sweet option complements the scones and cream much better.

The savory treats were tasty.
Devonshire cream, jam and passion fruit curd.
As for service, this was friendly, warm and efficient, but without being memorable.

Overall, I enjoyed the Afternoon tea. Everything you expect was there, but there was something missing; the wow factor I guess. There were just too many niggling things. Small things, but they all add up. However, Chocolate Gallery is definitely worth a visit because it gets more things right than it gets wrong.

The low down

The Chocolate Gallery,
Fairmont Hotel Abu Dhbai
02 654 3333

Afternoon tea set including choice of tea
95 Dhs standard set
125 Dhs ( standard set with 6 truffles)
195 Dhs (standard set, 6 truffles plus a glass of Proseco)