Observant readers will note that I did not partake of afternoon tea in Beijing.
As it was the National Holiday, I thought it probably wasn’t even trying and I decided that I wanted to have afternoon tea in Shanghai.
There was no real logical reason for this – just a whim – and also it’s my birthday tomorrow, so why not?
I arrived at the Fairmont Peace Hotel and had the 90th anniversary afternoon tea. Yes, another place having a big birthday.
This is one of the most famous hotels in China, formerly known as the Cathay when it opened in 1929.
It was the place to be seen for decades and the ground floor corridors feature photographs of the great and the good who have stayed here, got married here or dined here including familiar Western names such as Field Marshal Montgomery (Monty) and some actor by the name of Charlie Chaplin.
The hotel hosted a peace conference in 1956 and the 2010 restoration saw it reopened and renamed it acknowledge this.
The Fairmont is noted for the tea dances which apparently take place every Saturday, but not this Saturday.
Instead there was a pianist. The concierge warned me about this variation in programme though this wasn’t a problem for me. I enjoy hearing piano music.
Bearing in mind the size of some of the meals (Crispy Duck in Beijing) and afternoon teas (here’s looking at you, Moscow) I was a little nervous about how big today’s meal would be.
My stomach was still feeling a little delicate.
I am delighted to report that there was enough (and no more) for one person.
With a glass of champagne start things off I was very much looking forward to this.
The savoury selection was a little more interesting than simply sandwiches. However, bearing in mind how far the cake tier appears to have departed from including cake, I will state here and now that there should ALWAYS be some sandwiches.
Let’s not go to extremes, please.
One small point, the use of the term ‘toast’ was an exaggeration. Neither the tomato bread or the squid ink bread had been anywhere near a toaster or a grill.
They were, however, very tasty.
The sundried tomato quiche was delicious though the organic eggs in the pastry box was a little soggy.
The king crab salsa in a bun was to die for.
And this is an establishment that has not ‘messed about’ with the scones… though if they’re going to be that small, two would be good. Warmed orange scone when you can taste the fruit… absolutely beautiful.
Clotted cream rather than whipped cream would make it perfect.
And with the appearance of the coconut cake (though I have no idea what the pale green fluffy stuff was), I am delighted to note the revival of actual cake (rather than mousse or endless ganache) in afternoon teas. It was only one cake but, you know, baby steps.
The raspberry cheesecake was utterly delicious AND on a crunchy biscuit base.
The iced biscuit in the mango custard with white chocolate ‘bubbles’ was surprisingly good. I use the term ‘surprisingly’ because I’m not a fan of icing and it was full of flavour without being sickly sweet.
And the teapot was refilled! It’s these details that make all of the difference (though I was wondering if I would be charged for that. It’s not always clear).
Price: £62 – somewhat more expensive than the online menu indicated but I wasn’t charged for the tea refill and I assume it was pricier because it was the 90th anniversary afternoon tea.
The glass of champagne came in at £18 (included within the £62 – I’m highlighting it here for information).
Saturdays are more expensive than taking afternoon tea on other days of the week, even when there isn’t a tea dance and when there is, there appear to be two prices for this… your guess is as good as mine.
And yes, of course the pianist played “Summertime”. Perfect
Featured Photo: The virtually empty afternoon tea service. I forgot to take a photograph when it was full.