*UPDATE: The Continental has completely changed all its menus including afternoon tea, which is now substantially smaller and nowhere near as good. Sad times.*
There’s no denying that you’re never short of a dozen or twenty hot new restaurant openings in Hong Kong. However, hot new restaurants that you want to come back to time and time again? That’s a bit trickier.
For that reason, one of my favourite recent openings – and recent in Rach speak means sometime in the past year – is The Continental at Pacific Place in Admiralty. It serves unfussy, unpretentious, British-European cuisine made with classic flavours, quality ingredients and uniformly excellent cooking. The whole place has the seamless confidence of an old-school hotel restaurant… except without actually being in a hotel (it is under Swire though, who own The Upper House and EAST hotels – then again, they’re also responsible for bottling Coca-Cola in Hong Kong so it takes all sorts). It’s consistent, reliable and most importantly, very very good.
As such, I’ve been there for lunch, brunch, dinner and drinks – but me being me, it’s The Continental’s afternoon tea I want to talk to you about first. As far as afternoon teas go, you couldn’t wish for a nicer space, with an elegant contemporary design courtesy of David Collins Studio (who did The Wolsey in London) that effortlessly marries intimate comfort with modern sophistication.
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What’s black, white and red all over?
No, not the punch line to some dodgy joke, but the new FEAST Francfranc Afternoon Tea!
Thanks to that eye-catching black, white and red colour scheme, there’s something a little Alice In Wonderland-Queen Of Hearts about this afternoon tea set – but it’s definitely too gorgeous to have me screaming “Off with their heads!” at any of FEAST’s unsuspecting waiters. Although now you mention it, that pre-swirled cream and jam for the scones does make the afternoon tea purist in me twitch uncomfortably… but hey, it does look awfully pretty!
Posted in Food, Pretty Things
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I recently wrote an article about the Top 5 Spa Dining & Pampering Packages in Hong Kong – and ended up with a massive case of spa FOMO as a result.
Happily, The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong took pity on me and invited me to trial a luxurious spa day with them – an organic salad bar Go Green Lunch at The Lounge & Bar followed by a Shell Power Treatment at The Ritz-Carlton Spa by ESPA.
When I told my friends I was having a salad for lunch, there may have been some sniggers – as you may have gathered from my penchant for afternoon teas, salad ain’t really my style! But let’s be honest, the last thing you want when you’re lying on your massage bed is a bad case of bloated food baby and even old salad sceptic me was converted by The Ritz-Carlton’s buffet; it was delicious, healthy, filling (but still light!) and extremely good value at only $228 for unlimited visits. Given the salads at City’super or Simply Life knock on the door of triple figures for only a tenth of the quality and volume, this is a pretty great deal – especially once you factor in some fabulous views over the harbour. Hell, they’ll even expertly toss your salad for you in the deal too.
Posted in Beauty, Food, Hong Kong
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All the best things come from Scandinavia right? ABBA, Robyn, Lego, Ikea, H&M, The Moomins, Nordic Noir… and that’s just the tip of the Icelandic iceberg.
Well, now let’s add afternoon tea to the list too – as the afternoon tea at FINDS, Hong Kong’s only Scandinavian restaurant, has long been one of my favourites in town. It gets the balance between sweets and savouries pretty spot on and thanks to its Nordic inclinations, usually features a few more interesting and unusual items as opposed to yet another smoked salmon sandwich. Factor in a cute spring makeover via their GreenGate afternoon tea collaboration and it’s a definite must-visit… especially if you love pretty things as much as me!
Think of GreenGate as Denmark’s answer to Cath Kidston – namely, highly photogenic tableware adorned with pretty pastels and floral patterns galore. FINDS, located on the first floor of Tsim Sha Tsui boutique hotel The Luxe Manor, is a cushy afternoon tea location anyway (although it lacks a bit of atmosphere on quiet weekday afternoons); its interior, all curvy natural wood surfaces and bright pops of lime green, is inviting, relaxing and comfortable – so the coo-worthy crockery really is the Swedish lingonberry on top!
Posted in Food, Pretty Things
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Remember when Phoebe called Rachel “vanilla” on Friends?
It certainly wasn’t intended as a compliment then… but in the case of the Pierre Hermé Paris Infiniment Vanille Afternoon Tea at The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, it most definitely is one!
Banish all thoughts of vanilla being bland and boring –Pierre Hermé’s Fetish Infiniment Vanille collection of exquisite pint-sized pastries is the coolest thing to happen to vanilla since the raps in Ice Ice Baby.
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Forget March Madness, the Mad March Hare or even the March winds and April showers that bring forth May flowers – March in Hong Kong means art mania… also known as any party/event/celebrity visit that-can-vaguely-be-connected-to-art mania.
Sadly I’m not really into art – or parties – but what I can get on-board with is another opportunity to stuff my face. Enter the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong’s Cake Painting Afternoon Tea, a fun collaboration with British/Japanese artist Peter McDonald. Consisting of edible treats inspired by McDonald’s art, plus several of his original works on display too (including some created especially in honour of the tea), this is probably the closest I’ll get to embracing my artistic side this March!
In what will go down in history as The Day Of Two Afternoon Teas, I actually ended up eating the Cake Painting Afternoon Tea for ummm… breakfast (I know, I know) – but what a wonderful way to start the day it was! I’m not going to be giving Brian Sewell a run for his money anytime soon, but I can tell you that Peter McDonald’s art is eye-catchingly bright, vibrant and imaginative, abstract but not in that “well now I feel stupid” pretentious way, and with a tangible sense of fun and playfulness. The Grand Hyatt’s Executive Pastry Chef David White has done a great job of translating all this to the afternoon tea, creating colourful edible creations that still taste good too. Now that’s the kind of work of art I can truly appreciate!
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I’ve had a stressful couple of weeks recently – so of course, the best way to combat this was to have two afternoon teas in one day. Obvious really, isn’t it? (Note: here‘s the one I had for breakfast!)
As luck would have it, our trip to the Island Shangri-La Hong Kong happened just in time to catch their Best Of London Afternoon Tea – a collaboration with Chef Nicholas Patterson, award-winning pastry chef from the Shangri-La at The Shard, London.
I love the Island Shangri-La for its old-school glamour (who can resist the plush carpets in their lifts, which are changed every 24 hours to feature each day of the week?) and their Lobby Lounge is no exception – plump sateen armchairs, marble tables, sparkling chandeliers and a live pianist tinkling away in the corner. The room feels like something out of the castle in Disney’s Beauty & The Beast… no doubt helped by the fact that said pianist was playing Tale As Old As Time when I walked in!
Although it doesn’t have the grandiose cityscape views of other afternoon teas in town, the Lobby Lounge’s enormous windows offer a different but equally lovely panorama – of the Island Shangri-La’s gorgeous tropical garden and giant Banyan Tree. It’s a view totally different to any other I can think of in Hong Kong, and further adds to the place’s quiet and relaxed charm.
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