High Tea at The Peninsula

The Peninsula (High Tea)
Price: $370 HKD (per head)
Dined at: 1.30PM
Rating: 5/10 

"So I looped above Victoria Harbor and dove for the Peninsula Hotel. My tracers ripped into the shining plateglass of the penthouses on its top, and I saw the broken windows cascade like snow to the streets, many floors below. I laughed, for I knew that behind those windows were Japanese high officers, enjoying that modern hotel. When I got closer I could see uniformed figures going down the fire escapes, and I shot at them...I turned for one more run on the packed fire escapes filled with Jap soldiers, but my next burst ended very suddenly. I was out of ammunition."

Said some dead british dude after the battle for Hong Kong in the 1940's. The Peninsula has some serious history in Hong Kong. It was built in 1928 and is classic colonial architecture, both inside and out. It has the largest fleet of Rolls Royce Phantoms (fourteen of the mammoth things) and whose clientele includes people such as Bill Clinton who was apparently a guest of the hotel when we went in for high tea. Normally to experience High Tea at the peninsula you have to line up for ages and ages amongst fat plebian American tourists who are a little too excited to do something "cute and british". Luckily a friend was a staying at the hotel, so he was able to make a reservation for us (they only take reservations from hotel guests). 

Once seated we were presented with menus, but all in agreement went for the 'Afternoon Tea Set $328HKD' - their rendition of High Tea. It's expensive but that's about the average price for High Tea in Hong Kong. As far as I know the W Hotel's is the cheapest at around $230, but this being the peninsula I was really expecting something special. 

Soon orders for tea were taken. The Peninsula has a fairly wide variety from your classic black teas (english breakfast, peppermint, earl grey), hideous herbals like chamomile and green tea, as well as Chinese (wulong, puh ehr, tieguanyin, chrysanthemum). Everyone else got tea and the fanfare of the pouring was quite a sight to behold.

 Not really feeling like tea I ordered a coffee, cappuccino for me.  

What I wasn't expecting was a coffee from an automatic machine (the types you see in offices and airport lounges). The type where you press a button and the machine does everything, and served in fine china? Kind of seems like a waste. I would have thought that being at The Peninsula, and paying what we were, I would have received a proper cappuccino made from a proper machine. Even McDonalds these days make their coffee with a proper machine and better than this. Yes you get free refills (which for me meant more instant cappuccinos) but you can't switch teas or drinks, which meant I was stuck with my choice. 

Thankfully the high tea platters came soon after and I didn't have to think too much about my poor choice of drink. Sweets on the top, savouries in the middle and of course raisin scones on the bottom tier. House made jam and clotted cream were also placed on the table for the scones. Each set was prepared for 3 people.

Decided to go with the savoury platter first (it seemed the logical order) which had such goodies as goat cheese & semi-dried tomato tartletts, cucumber and cream cheese as well as smoked salmon finger sandwiches, a rare roast beef mini-baguette with capers and a mini pork lattice pastry. 

All fairly yummy but nothing that really blew me away. My favorite was probably this rare-beef baguette. 

The sweets platter had a yummy slice of tea-cake, a cherry crumble cake, a chocolate and strawberry marshmallow chocolate tart (filled with lemon curd), a caramel macaron and a lime and vanilla trifle. 

Mmmm, macaron. More than one would have been nice. 

Nothing dissapointed me on the sweets platter. The macaron was delicious but this was by far my favorite. A small chocolate tart with strawberry marshmellow on the top and lemon curd hidden inside. Nice. 

Finally, la pièce de résistance, the scones! This is what i'd been waiting for. The clotted cream and jam combined with this fat looking raisin filled babies was surely a fast track to a coronary later that evening, but high tea is all about endulging. Maybe my expectations were a bit high, I expected the peninsula to have top notch scones, crunchy on the outside and moist & wet on the inside. Instead they were more along the lines of a dense brioche, and the outside wasn't so crunchy either. A bit of a heartbreak to be honest, what a shame.

(Me on the right)

So apart from feeling a little let down in the scone and coffee department, I had a really good time. It wasn't about the food but the company. I had a great time with six friends and got to see a university buddy before he headed back to Australia.