Milestones are meant to be celebrated. Whether they come in the form of an Indulgent Afternoon Tea at Dubai’s Burj Al Arab hotel to celebrate a special anniversary, or this tribute post to commemorate the 100th article on Gourmantic, reaching a round number is cause to pop the Champagne and toast the occasion.
At Burj Al Arab, the experience begins the moment you make your reservation with the hotel. The level of service from their attentive staff is exemplary and sets the mind on a journey that speaks of hospitality and luxury way before boarding the airplane.
Don’t even think you can get anywhere near Dubai’s seven star hotel or sneak a look at the lavish lobby with its gilded interiors, dancing fountains and aquarium walls. Unless you are a hotel guest or you have a booking at their restaurants, bars or afternoon teas, you will not be allowed in.
Security is controlled at the gates. Arriving by taxi, we are stopped. I show the booking confirmation letter and we are welcomed to BAA and politely asked to go over the bridge that connects to the sail-like hotel rising from the Persian Gulf. Once we have made it past the control, we are made to feel very welcome.
We arrive a little early to give us the opportunity to explore the settings and take a few photographs. The hotel’s architecture is a marvel to be admired from all angles. When we finally step into the grand lobby and are greeted with a warm welcome and offered fresh dates from a silver tray.
“Welcome to Burj Al Arab. You’re here for the afternoon tea? You’re probably a little early. Would you like to take a look around and maybe take some photographs?”
I can barely contain my excitement now that I do not have to sneak a shot or two. We are left to admire the ambience de luxe in our surrounds. Photographs of the decadent Burj al Arab lobby will feature in a future article.
We take the lift to the 27th floor of the SkyView Bar. The island of Palm Jumeirah becomes three dimensional with Atlantis rising from the sea, the first glimpse of architecture that is best seen from soaring heights. We are welcomed in the bar’s shimmering gold lobby and in just a couple of minutes, we are shown to our window table. I catch a smile on my face reflecting in the glass. I am simply in awe of my surrounds.
The waiter offers us a glass of Roederer Champagne then stretches one arm out while he pours it into a glass flute.
We are offered an extensive menu from which we make our tea selection, a rich and aromatic Superior Oolong for me and the fragrant Jasmin Pearls for Mr G.
Guests start to arrive, couples, families, friends and relatives. I note that the majority have made an effort to dress for the occasion, a little more than the required ‘Smart Casual’ attire. The overall ambience is one of luxury with attentive service. We are made to feel comfortable and welcome and settle in for the afternoon tea experience.
The first course is a mix of fresh berries and cream whetting the palate and a good accompaniment to the crispness of the Champagne.
This is followed by a Beef Wellington, served warm with a beetroot purée.
The next part of the service is perfectly coordinated. Waiting staff appear all at once carrying stands in the shape of the Burj with the selection of afternoon tea temptation on colourful glass plates. These are placed on the table in front of us and we are left to admire the choice before us.
Four tiers make up the miniature steel Burj with the food presented on colourful glass plates with decorative patterns. Some remind me of the sea below, others of the colourful fish I spotted in the aquarium wall.
The top layer consists of a selection of sandwiches, egg, smoked salmon, cream cheese with sun dried tomatoes, cucumber and cream cheese on different types of bread.
No sooner that we eat a couple of pieces that we are offered more. The smoked salmon is a little hard to resist.
The next tier is made up of seafood vol-au-vents with prawns, choux pastry chicken with seeded mustard, a beef sandwich,
and my favourite so far, basil, tomato and bocconcini cheese on squid ink bread. We are reminded that the first tiers of the afternoon are all we can eat. Tempted as we are, we must leave room for the remaining dishes.
The third tier is made up of my signature dessert, the creme brûlée with an assortment of shortbread biscuits and a carrot cake.
We are left to enjoy the hospitality at a leisurely pace, sipping fragrant teas and indulging in tasty morsels.
The tea is replenished as often as we like.
Next, we are presented with fruit cake, scones with and without raisins and an assortment of spreads, strawberry and rose petal jam, clotted cream, a strawberry mousse and tangy passion fruit.
Not losing sight of our surrounds for any moment, we admire the city of Dubai at our feet. The views from the SkyView Bar on the 27th floor are stunning. They provide a perspective to the city that can only be attained from the air. Extending from the wave-shaped Jumeirah Beach Hotel is a semi-circular pier leading to the 360° Bar. I am on the lookout for the setting sun over Palm Jumeirah. I take a few photographs which will be the subject of a future article.
After a little pause for photographing scenery, it is time to sample all the petits fours and gourmandises.
I choose the fig tart and green tea macaron, leaving the caramel slice and white chocolate cake for Mr G.
The assortment on the aquamarine plate is hard to resist. But by now, we are both nearly at satiation point. Every course has been delectable.
Maybe another brief pause for photography and styling might replenish the appetite. With a strawberry dipped in white chocolate and decorated with a gold leaf, a meringue lemon tart with an erect ripe berry, a passion fruit ball with an oozing liquid centre, a saucer-like with white chocolate filling, we are more than a little full.
And just when we think the afternoon tea was coming to a close, we are presented with a special cake and a candle to blow with a Happy Anniversary message on behalf of Burj Al Arab, a surprise that admittedly leaves me a little teary eyed.
Indulgent Afternoon Tea consist of the following:
- 7 different types of sandwiches
- A fine selection of pastries and petit fours
- Home made scones and preserves
- Choice of 50 different type of Teas
- Premium selection of coffees
- Glass of Champagne
- Reservations must be made in advance by emailing Burj Al Arab Hotel at BAARestaurants@jumeirah.com. Credit card details need to be provided to secure the booking. It will be charged on the day unless a cancellation is made.
- The best session for the afternoon tea is around 4.00pm where you get a chance to see the sunset over the Persian Gulf.
- Don’t eat a big lunch on the day or book a lavish dinner for the evening as the afternoon tea provides ample food.
- BAA advises that the dress code is Smart casual. Gentlemen are requested to wear a shirt with collar, long trousers or smart jeans and closed shoes (no trainers). In our experience, the majority of guests made more of an effort to dress up which contributed to the overall elegant ambience.
- Photography is allowed at management discretion but not video to respect the privacy of guests.
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