Hi my dear readers! It's been such a long time since my last post that my fingers now feel awkward on the keyboard! Something BIG has happened and kept me away from this blog over the past few months: I AM PREGNANT!! :D
During the first trimester I felt so tired ever day that I was unable to stay conscious past 10:00pm, which meant that I wasn't able to do anything productive after work... then in second trimester, when my energy level returned to normal, I was busy reading books about pregnancy and meeting friends to share the good news. Now already in the third trimester, it's time to do some serious baby product research and shopping to prepare for my baby's arrival. In short, no time for blogging!!
Notwithstanding the above, today I feel obliged to write a review on the afternoon tea set newly launched by Jamie's Italian CWB, which I have just tried. Remember our "慈母" (caring mother) cares about us so much that "she" sent us heartwarming text messages to warn us against phone scams? Now that I am going to be a 慈母 myself too, I am driven by my mother instinct to protect my readers from being cheated as well!
Jamie's Italian needs no introduction. It was quite a sensation when its first HK branch opened in CWB last year - restaurant fully booked online a month ahead, long queues around lunch and dinner time, people showing off their meals on FB... typical story in HK. Since food doesn't taste better when you try it sooner, I saw no point in joining the crowd and wasting even a small fraction of my life on queuing. As Hongkongers are novelty-seeking, usually queues disappear after a year... and that's normally the time I would try those big name restaurants.
About 2 weeks ago, Hellish and I took Friday off and were planning what to do. We reviewed our FB feeds for inspiration. We eventually decided to visit the newly opened Line Friends Store at Hysan Place, as well as Jamie's Italian for afternoon tea. It's weekday and another branch of Jamie's has already opened in TST, so we thought it would be a good time to check out the CWB branch!
As expected, business at Jamie's was slow on Friday afternoon. There were only less than 10 parties in the spacious restaurant. Shortly after he had taken our order, the waiter placed 4 cans of peeled tomatoes on our table. They were not supposed to be consumed; they were intended to support the afternoon tea planks that we were eagerly waiting for! A really fun and playful touch.
Only regular tea and coffee were included in the tea set so Hellish and I ordered one each. The tea experience went sharply downhill when a pot of Lipton tea was brought to me. LIPTON! For a moment I got disoriented and wondered if I was in a cha chaan teng! I have been served Twinings for afternoon tea before but I don't think I have ever been given Lipton! :0 As if it was not shocking enough, I was appalled to find out that the teapot was only half-filled, which meant that almost half of the tea bag was above water surface. Worst of all, the water turned out to be merely lukewarm (just slightly higher than body temperature) as I poured it into my cup!!! Could the pot of tea be previously been consumed by someone else?? Urgh!!
I asked the waiter to refill the pot with hot water. He did, and the water was indeed warmer, but still it was far from being hot. I decided to give up and removed the tea bag from the pot. I'd rather drink a cup of warm water than a cup of not-so-hot tea. Anyway it's just Lipton. I've got nothing to lose...
Our tea set arrived 40 minutes after we had placed the order, which I considered hardly justifiable because many of the items (e.g. the cheese, ham, pickles) required minimal cooking time. Perhaps some of the desserts were freshly baked, but they could certainly have made advance preparation to speed things up right?
Savoury plank: Levoni cured meat and "a wonderful selection of pickles and olives"
Savoury plank continued (from left) : Italian nachos, mozzarella cheese (not mentioned in the menu), Pecorino and chilli jam
Dessert plank (clockwise from top left): Strawberries & cream, Tuscan Eat & Mess, Gennaro's tiramisu, "our famous epic brownie"
The Italian Nachos were supposed to be the only hot items on the savoury plank, but they were cold ... :0 I couldn't help feeling sarcastic when I saw that their Chinese name was "香脆意大利芝士雲吞" because they were anything but 脆 (crispy). With the smoky cheesy filling and fiery tomato sauce, they could have tasted great had they been piping hot. Shame. The plain mozzarella balls were tasteless. Well that's what mozzarella should be like; the question is why they served it without anything? On the other hand, the pickles were so acidic that my oesophagus would have been corroded if I finished them all. Overall, everything on the savoury plank was so lifeless that I wondered if they had made it with lunch leftovers. :(
Thankfully there's the dessert plank which saved the tea experience from being a complete catastrophe. At least I really enjoyed their rich and chocolatey brownie. It was crunchy on the outside and slightly melty on the inside, just like molten chocolate cake! They didn't call it their famous epic brownie for no reason. The tiramisu was not bad either. It was the authentic kind of tiramisu: spongy, moist, and tasted strongly of coffee liqueur instead of cream. The Tuscan Eat & Mess as well as strawberries & cream were passable.
Ambience: B+ (I love industrial decor, but it's not really the right ambience for afternoon tea I am afraid)
Overall remarks: This tea set will not be approved by Jamie Oliver himself if he has the chance to taste it. I have dined at Jamie's Italian in Oxford before, and I liked every dish I tried back then... which makes me doubt that they have done anything about quality control when they open overseas branches. Sure Hongkongers worship celebrity chefs and are crazy about afternoon tea, but it's plain wrong to capitalize on that and serve an assortment of uninspiring food in the name of afternoon tea set! I will not be back, not even for lunch or dinner.
2/F, Soundwill Plaza II - Midtown, 1 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
* Afternoon tea: 3:00-6:00pm daily, $158 (+ 10% service charge) per person