Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Promenade @ The Dorchester

The Promenade
High Tea @ The Dorchester
Mayfair, London

Welcome to the Promenade at the Dorchester.

The setting is enough to make you cry, with happy tears, of course.
A high-tea experience here on a Sunday just before Christmas is unforgettable. Of all the places I've had high-tea, this establishment surpassed them all with the service, food, comfort, and atmosphere. We were joined by Christmas carolers for the tea time and greeted like royalty upon arrival. Next, a prim-and-proper maitre d' seated us at one of the grand banquettes, right in the center of the Promenade, between two light and ornament-bedecked Christmas trees, marble columns, fine Italian marble floors with gorgeous antique carpets below a meticulously-carved and elegant crown molding. The presentation and flow of it all made us cry, it was so beautiful.

Laurent-Pierre Brut Champagne
& Finger Sandwiches

Left to Right: Cucumber Sandwich, Ham & Cheese, Egg Salad, Turkey & Cranberry Stuffing on Pesto Bread, Smoked Salmon & Butter)

Divine champagne, a classic. The year was something like the late 1980s/early 1990s too. I love Bruts because they're never sweet like Rieslings. This one was crisp, dry and had a lovely body, thus are the Bruts. Laurent-Pierre has yet to let me down.

The Turkey and Stuffing sandwich on the pesto bread was my favorite by far. Who would ever think to put all these together on a sandwich, and who has ever heard of "pesto" bread? This was out of this world, with sweet hints of cranberry bread pudding or stuffing. I'm not an egg salad person, but my mom loved hers.

And who can turn down a traditional cucumber sandwich? The Cucumber had cream cheese mixed in as well, and a tad of butter. The Dorchester really likes putting butter on their sandwiches, and I don't really get it, but people love the food more if it has butter in it, even while they might not know it.

I always love Smoked Salmon, and this sandwich was so tasty! The smoked salmon in England is way better than that in the States, in my opinion. It's more tender and infused with natural omega oils.

Vanilla Bean and Orange Parfait with Sweet Bread Crumbles
To cleanse our palette before the actual tea and desserts, this was presented to us, and it was so lovely. The baby midly-pureed sweet oranges at the bottom are remarkable, and the light vanilla bean creme in the center is so smooth and fluffy with crisp vanilla bean hints that pair wonderfully with the little oranges. The bread crumbs along the top balance it all out.

The Dorchester Blend
A blend of silvery Ceylon & Golden Assam. This is a truly elegant tea."
That says it all. It doesn't have the sharp, bitter flavor of English breakfast or Earl Grey. This is a lovely harmony of herbs and Ceylon. I loved it! I just added some creme and sugar... perrrrfect!

Raisin Scone
To die for.
I must have had at least 4 of these. They are oh-so mildly sweet, with some butter, raisins, and whatever else you use to make scones. They are petite, and served warm, so soft and full of that yummy baked flavor, and is beautifully un-burnt. You can surely taste the buttermilk in this as well, which is probably why it's so good.

Seasonal Jams & Devonshire Clotted Creme
Rhubarb, Strawberry, & Clotted Creme
I liked the strawberry the best, but the rhubarb was a nice change from the traditional assortment. The clotted creme is much like butter, without the sharp sweetness. This wasn't salted too, which was nice. The rhubarb tastes particularly like rhubarb itself, meaning it's fresh and un-poluted by American additives. Same goes for the strawberry jam; it's pure, with strawberry, some sugar, and that's probably it. Quite refreshing. I went for the clotted creme on my scone -- here come the heart clots...

Christmas Dessert Platter
"Mince Pie, Gingerbread Whoopee Sandwich, Chocolate Mousse Cake with Dark Chocolate, Yulelog (bottom right)"

A Mince Pie is, well, a mince pie. I'm not into mince pies, but this was good. It's basically a tart, filled with a medley of meshed dried fruit such as raisins, sultanas, and cranberries, same berries as the stolen cake. This was served at room temperature. It was dusted with not powdered sugar, but regular sugar. Whooo, it was sweet, but it's good for a bite.

The Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake has a layer of mildly-sweet shortbread at the bottom and a rich medallion of whipped mousse. This was rich, and dark, and so sinful. I liked this. The little dark chocolate piece topping it off was a simple lot of joy for me.

The Whoopee Sandwich reminded me a bit of meringue. The cookie holds its shape, but if you press your finger on it cracks appear and you find that it really is soft; it is held together with sugar. The flavor was lovely, that of gingerbread and a bit of gingersnap, but not domineering.

I didn't care for the Yulelog, it tasted of milk chocolate on the outer layer, but a hardened creamy version of it. The middle was a semi-sweet type of chocolate, but there was a lot of sweetener in this treat, which gave me a headache after a little while. If you like really-sweet things, this is for you. I also don't like milk chocolate. So here's to all you milk chocolate fans.

Almond Torte & Stolen Cake

The Almond Torte was definitely my favorite among all of these. It tasted just like the Spanish Tortes that I had in Madrid. I loved this! It was light with a mild almond flavor, dense and flourless with a bit of a light liquor flavor, like muscat. This was topped with a light layer of powdered sugar and a seedless green grape. The stolen cake was good too, but these stolen cakes are too much for me to handle, they are wayyyyy too sweet. There is a thin tube of marzipan that goes through the middle of the dense sweet-floured bread Christmas cake, spackled with raisins, sultanas, cranberries and such along with a baked outer layer of thick confectioners sugar and regular sugar with butter and all that goey baking stuff. This is a heavy, sweet cake. I just can't do it, but if you have Stolen cake, this is the finest one.

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