Chocolate Gallery Afternoon Tea - Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi

The Chocolate Gallery has been a  favourite with local media since it opened its doors a few years ago. It has been a year since my last visit, when in fairness, I was underwhelmed. In trying it again, I was hoping to see just what the hype was about.

Afternoon Tea offers three options, with a different set served each day. I am curious to get feedback on this, and I ask the in-house chocolatier if this works. He responds by saying he has guests who come in on a certain day because they know how the cycle and that each guest has identified his her favourite set. What I like about it as that each set has raisin scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam as standard. The variation comes in the sweet and savoury components. On this day, it will be Afternoon Tea Set 3. There is a choice of around 80 teas to choose from; very impressive. Guests also have an option to make it a bubbly experience by having Valdo Prosecco added to their set. My daughter, meanwhile, has  a look at the Children's menu - a nice touch. There are not many places offering afternoon tea with a specially created kids menu.

The Chocolate Gallery offers a terrace, something of an x-factor considering not many top Afternoon teas in the city offer that. Sadly because of the poor weather, we are seated inside, but the almost post modern and chic decor is a bonus in itself.

Afternoon tea is served. For two people it is substantial. Two three-tier hanging trays adorn our  table area - One with scones, clotted cream, in-house homemade strawberry jam and honey and the other with our sweet treats. The savoury sandwiches and wraps are placed on the table.

There are many high points: The scones, of course, first. They had just the right density and were not heavy at all. When I cut into them, they do not crumb too easliy. The homemade jam also hit the right spot with the perfect level of sweetness. The Grilled zucchini, bell pepper, rocket and pesto sauce on ciabatta makes an immediate impression as I bite into it. The grilled vegetables with very generous pesto complement each other so well. The ciabatta, not usually my favourite bread because it is often dry or chewy, is perfect. Also, the Shish taouk, tahina and garlic mayo tortilla brings a nice twist and  an acceptable departure from the traditional Afternoon tea.

On the sweet front, I have one of the nicest profiteroles in recent memory. Just last week I had a profiterole with a chocolate sauce on top and chocolate mouse in the centre. It was too rich. Today, no such issues and I find that the only problem with the Chocolate pralinosa profiterole is that there is only one! Fluffy and airy - so good. The Mandarin macaroon checks all the boxes with a slightly chewy centre and crispy outside. Classic. Finally, the  Raspberry banana cake or Dubois as it might be more widely known, is a real celebration of raspberry. That layer of raspberry on top as well as two fresh raspberries bring home that tangy sweetness I am looking for.

Our afternoon is punctuated by meeting the chocolatier who is one of those rare individuals that you meet in restaurants who oozes life and joy. He colours our experience with these qualities. He is supremely knowledgable, humble and passionate about chocolate; it is an education for me. The value of people is highlighted again.

The Chocolate Gallery is a top venue for Afternoon Tea. Immense pride is taken in presentation, and isn't that part of what Afternoon Tea is all about? The prettiness of it all? It is a varied set that offers a great deal of variety. In addition, the presence of Abe, the chocolatier,  provides the ultimate x factor in making the occasion extra special. Once before did I meet a staff member at an Afternoon Tea who had such an effect on my experience. I am happy to add Abe to that list.

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 Prosecco)