Afternoon Tea - Shangri-la, Abu Dhabi

Afternoon Tea, as you may recall from a couple of previous posts, is a wonderful celebration of life. It is where things dainty are privileged. It is an occasion where pomp and ceremony are welcomed and in their absence, tears are shed. That is Afternoon Tea. A time for little girls to wear dresses. A time for her parents to take a little extra care in choosing what to wear. My visit to Shangri-la for Afternoon Tea was my first such visit in more than 4 months, so you can excuse this post if the words in front of you keep jumping at you - that would be excitement.

White Orchid arrangement in the centre of the lounge.
Spacious lounge.
Afternoon tea is served in the Lobby Lounge. It is classic Arabian with a high ceilings and magnificent palm trees. I see  a glorious orchid display in the middle of the lounge. There is a terrace area that affords views of the canal and of course, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. As I take a seat , I am thrilled to learn that the Lounge is now completely a no-smoking area. Kudos to management. The bar and terrace are  the only smoking areas.

The staff are, as usual, warm, friendly and engaging. I have often waxed poetically about the 'service from the heart' philosophy at Shangri-la. In my first 3 minutes I interact with three waitresses and they live up to the philosophy.

The Australian Sparkling wine
I am offered the Afternoon Tea menu. There 4 options: The Abu Dhabi set reflects the local culture and includes very symbolic dates. The Paris option is differentiated by having beef millefeuille, vol au vent and caviar. There is also the Hanoi choice made up of Vietnamese treats featuring spring rolls. However, I opt for the San Diego set inspired by California.  While it is great that there are 4 options, I am disappointed that there is no Traditional English set. But I am told that each set on offer has scones included. So, no cucumber sandwiches, but there are scones!

Earl Grey tea.
To drink, I order Earl Grey, one of twenty choices available. You might be interested to know there is also Oolong tea,  Sencha, green tea variations,  darjeeling and a selection of flavoured teas. I decide to make it a bubbly afternoon. However, I feel  like making it a  bubbly afternoon, so I start my afternoon with the Australian Chandon Domaine Brut, one of three by-the-glass sparkling options. 

The atmosphere is perfect. There is an oud player who provides background music. I enjoy it as my sparkling wine is opened. I am served by the same waitress who a year ago did not know much about wine, other than that red goes with beef and white with fish. Today, she is different. She has grown. Confidently she tells me about the sparkling wine she is pouring. As she talks, there is, excuse the pun, a sparkle in her eyes. It speaks of confidence. 

3 tiers of delight.

Soon after,  a 3-tier stand is placed in front of me. It is really enough for two. The bottom tier has all your savory delights - chicken, salmon, bacon and avocado sandwiches. The middle tier consists of a variety of 3 scones, cream and 'jam'. I say 'jam' because it is so much more than jam. The is strawberry jam is real strawberries in a sauce - no sugar added. Also, there is a blueberry sauce with chunky bits of blueberries. Sweet, but not nauseatingly so. Still, a nice contrast to the strawberries. 
The beautiful bubbles in this Perrier Jouet Grand Brut. 
Next up, I have another glass of bubbly. It is a beautiful one - the Perrier Jouet Grand Brut. My waitress again, provides the theatre I love so much - it is opened and she pours it to give me a taste, narrating what I can expect. What  a pleasure the unfolding drama is. 

One of my favourites, the tomato with rosemary.
Salmon sandwich
The Afternoon tea set is really big. I finish the sandwich selection, with the tomato and rosemary a highlight, along with the bacon and avocado sandwich on dark brown bread. Delicious. 

I end off the afternoon with the top top tier which is a sweet treat. Macarons and fresh fruit catch my eye. The fresh fruit - melon and strawberries are sweet and fresh, balanced nicely by the dragon fruit, which as you know, is very subtle in taste. 

Before I know it, three hours have passed. I cannot believe it. Thanks to the substantial spread, the bubbly, tea and the typical Shangri-la service, time went by so fast. Henry James' words rang in my mind as I got up to leave: 'There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea'. In my case, it was three hours well spent. 

The low down

Afternoon tea in The Lobby Lounge,
Shangri-la, Abu Dhabi
971 2 509 8888

Afternoon Tea 90 - 100 Dhs incl. tea ++
Chandon Domaine Brut 70 Dhs ++
Perrier Jouet Grand Brut 125 Dhs ++

Brandon Stoltenkamp