Afternoon Sundowners and High Tea Launch @Byblos Sur Mer - InterConitnental Hotel, Abu Dhabi

How do you take an award winning restaurant that has already made a tremendous impact on the Middle Eastern dining scene in Abu Dhabi with its revisiting of certain Lebanese classics, and make it even more accessible? Well, launch an Afternoon Tea, or Afternoon Sundowners and High Tea as it is being called. I had the pleasure of attending the launch, and based on the turnout which featured hotel GM Ivor Prestwood and Executive Chef Danny Kattar who both put in context this exciting addition to the afternoon tea scene in the city, this promises to be very well received. 

The first thing that excited me about the tea set is the choice of venue. The upper level of Byblos Sur Mer, with its gorgeous terrace gave guests  a taste of what it will be like having tea as the sun sets. As I watched the sun set, flashes of Monet's Vanilla Sky series popped into my mind. 

Secondly, the actual tea set reflects the best of Lebanese sweets meeting some classic elements from a traditional afternoon tea. The two-tier set is divided, like mezze, into a hot and cold section, and of course dessert.  This is reflected in a number of items in the tea set. Basterma "air dried beef" sandwich, sun-blushed tomato with summac is one such example. Then there are also the Cumin and coriander seed flavored scones that are of the most direct connections to the English afternoon tea experience most people are familiar with. 

One of my personal favourites you can look forward to is the reinterpretation of serving fresh fruit. The Dragon fruit with halloumi and olives salad and pomegranate molasses is a very exciting part of the set. I mentioned on a  couple occasions that dragon fruit is one of the most exotic and sensuous looking fruits, but is let down by taste - it is very, very bland. It now has rich flavours thanks to that molasses mix, and of course unexpected texture from the halloumi cheese. Finally, it is presented in a hollowed out dragon fruit. Very inventive. Other creations include Kunafa wrapped prawns, honey and molasses dip and Shanklish "aged lebanese cheese" in katayef dough

The Afternoon Sundowners and High Tea will provide a genuine quality alternative to traditional afternoon teas in the city. At 295AED it places itself at the high end of afternoon teas in the city, but with such memorable flavours and creativity, as well as quality ingredients, it seems justified. Oh, and of course the beautiful setting. 

The Essentials
Afternoon sundowners and High TeaByblos Su Mer,Intercontinental Hotel, Abu Dhabi+971 666 6888
295AED ++  for 2 with unlimited tea. 
Served daily from 4-7pm. 
Disclaimer: I was invited as part of the media to the launch of Afternoon Sundowners and High Tea at Byblos Sur Mer. 
Brandon Stoltenkamp