Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A Tale of Two Teas

The chocolate mousse cake at the Mandarin Cake Shop
This past Saturday I had afternoon tea -- twice.

Both were at the Mandarin Oriental, first at the Cake Shop, then at Cafe Causette.

I went to the gym first without eating lunch so by the time 3:30pm came around, I was starving to say the least.

The cake shop at the Mandarin is a sight to behold, with amazing sculptures made of mostly marzipan.

Nevertheless, you cannot book seats at the square bar in the middle so we waited patiently for two seats together to open up.

It was about 3:45pm by the time we got to sit down but when I opened the menu the server promptly told me that practically all the savouries -- salads, sandwiches and quiches were all sold out.

Excuse me?

She suggested perhaps I could have some yogurt, but when she checked, those too were all sold out.

How could that be, on a Saturday afternoon at such a popular destination for afternoon tea?

In the end I ordered a scone set, which was one (one!) raisin scone with clotted cream and the hotel's signature rose petal jam.

Hardly impressive.

Afternoon tea sandwiches for taitais who just want to snack
My friend had already eaten lunch and ordered two desserts and insisted I also try the chocolate mousse cake. That was deceptively light and fluffy, though rich and creamy. It arrived before my scone.

And while I was eating my scone, a middle-aged man plonked himself next to us and promptly ordered a burger that came with two thick patties, melted cheese, lettuce and tomato and fries.

How come he was able to order a burger and I was stuck with just a scone?

As time passed, we were able to grab a small table at the nearby Cafe Causette (there was a 45-minute wait earlier).

Again we were not given the full coffee shop menu but an afternoon tea one.

I ordered the afternoon tea sandwiches that were HK$118 ($15.21)!

It included three mini buns filled with a light savoury cream topped with tiny bits of cucumber, chives and apple bits, along with ham and smoked salmon sandwiches.

In the end I was relatively sated, but how could there be nothing left to eat at the cake shop?

Going there for afternoon tea was not my idea, and I won't be going back again anytime soon.

While I agree that the early bird gets the worm, this is a hotel that has a popular afternoon tea, so why not be prepared than disappoint?

Mandarin Oriental
5 Connaught Road
2522 0111

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