A review that everybody is waiting for!! According to the stats of this blog, quite a number of people bumped into my site over the past 2 weeks when they googled "tea saloon another fine day". I feel really sorry for these poor souls as they were likely disappointed to learn that my previous entry was about the original store of AFD... that's why I feel obliged to write up my review on its tea saloon ASAP despite being smothered with work this week!
The tea saloon is nestled in a placid residential area at Mid-Levels, where the only thing you can hear on a Sunday afternoon is the gentle tweets of birds. There's no signboard outside, but the pastel purple walls are eye-catching enough to arouse the curiosity of any passer-by.
Fans of AFD will not be disappointed because the tea saloon is even more girly than the original store!
The only window seat, which is also my favourite corner
The quaint setting is strikingly similar to Antique, which in my opinion is one of the best afternoon tea places in HK. Both with pastel interior and faux fireplace, Tea Saloon and Antique are equally successful in creating the atmosphere of a quintessential English tearoom. :)
A somewhat exotic corner at the back of the saloon
One thing I really like about the saloon is that it offers tea sets throughout the day, which gives you greater flexibility in planning your tea session. :) Antique does the same thing too, but Tea Saloon is more customer-friendly because they do not require you to prepay for the tea set (yes, this is what Antique does... weird huh). Another thoughtful touch is that the saloon offers 2 different tea sets catering to the differential needs of ladies and gentlemen. The ladies' tea set has more sweets, whereas the gentlemen's tea set has more savoury items. We found this a cute idea (even though sugar-hungry Hellish and savoury-toothed me obviously do not fit into the gender stereotypes :P) and ordered a set of each.
There were a reasonable number of choices on the tea menu. I had Mdm. Grey, a yummy variation of Earl Grey. Roses and cornflowers were added to the classic tea to give it a feminine twist. :) Hellish's Rooibos with Vanilla proved to be another decent choice. The rooibos base had no weird taste of straw (which is rather common in rooibos), and the scent of vanilla was so powerful that it overshadowed the aroma of Mdm. Grey - for a moment I thought I was given Hellish's order instead of Mdm. Grey because all I could smell from my cup was vanilla!
Ladies' Afternoon Tea Set & Gentlemen's Afternoon Tea Set, served on a tea stand matched to the cutlery (which had an interesting but impractical design - the leaves made it so difficult to hold the fork and knife...)!
Top tier (clockwise from top): lemon meringue tart, strawberry & rose macaroon, mango mousse cake, chocolate truffle cake
(Red = in Ladies' Afternoon Tea Set only, blue = in Gentlemen's Afternoon Tea Set only, purple = in both tea sets)
Middle tier: (clockwise from top): Earl Grey tea cupcake, crab rillette, duo filo tartlets - egg mayo with smoked salmon & creamy forest mushroom, mini popover filled with black truffle cream cheese
Middle tier from another angle
Bottom tier (clockwise from top): proscuitto & manchego cream cheese croissant, mini chicken burger with oolong tea sauce, mini house salad with special plum tea citrus dressing, oolong tea jelly panna cotta pot, signature rose scone with clotted cream & homemade rose petal strawberry jam
A better view of the scones
Garnished with violets and green herbs, the pretty tea sets echoed the arrival of spring. :) In terms of sweets, there were the usual suspects such as chocolate truffle cake, mango cake, cupcake etc. Not too exciting, but predictably good in general. The uber-dense chocolate cake hit all the right notes and beat the delicate lemony meringue tart by a nose. :P The macaron would need some improvement - while I liked the sweet rose filling, the shells were soft and lacked crunchiness. The real problem, however, lay in the scones. The scone I had at AFD main store was a bit hard, and what we had this time was even harder and drier. :( It tasted like the moistureless banana walnut cake that my former Filipino maid used to bake... :0 Thankfully the perfumy rose jam could to some extent made up for the scone's deficiency.
As expected, I was more interested in the savouries. I was titillated by the sight of my favourite mushroom filo tartlet, and this time it had even got an eggy twin! :9 As a bona fide lover of rich, fattening cheese, I was appeased by the Manchego cheese croissant (despite the croissant being slightly dry) and truffle cream cheese (read: divine) popover. There's even crab rillette, something which I had never expected to see on a tea stand! Did you know how rillette is made? With fat - a lot of fat, be it butter or cheese!! :9 It's only seasoned lightly, so that the subtle sweetness of crab was preserved. I couldn't believe that there were only 3 tiny pieces of toast to go with it. We almost wanted to lick the little jar after scooping out the last bit of rillette... :P
Apart from tea sets, the tea saloon serves lunch every day and also a special brunch set on weekends. There are endless options for brunch in HK nowadays, but Tea Saloon is probably the only place that you get to enjoy the whole lazy affair on a tiered cake stand. ;)
(Latest update @27.4.2013 16:54: Antique has just announced that they are going to launch something called "brunch tiers" in June!!! I think I smell rivalry... :P)
Overall remarks: Believe it or not: tea Saloon by AFD is going to be the It tea place of 2013. Just as what I have said to my friend: book a table before it gets busy, because it will! Another reason to visit it this month is that, a 15% discount will be offered to all customers as the soft opening promotion! ;)
G/F, 80-82 Peel Street, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong
All-day tea: 12:00pm-7:00pm (Tue - Fri), 10:30am-7:00pm (Sat-Sun)
$288 for 1 person, $498 for 2 persons