Thursdays for us here in this Arabic region could mean a lot of things: start of a weekend, party, laundry night, or even just rest binge-watching your favorite flick over Netflix. While the rest of the world would be screaming “TGIF: Thank God it’s Friday!” well, we have “Thank God it’s Thursday” instead. And if party, laundry or binge-watching is not your thing, why not try meeting your friends for high tea on a Thursday?
Caramel Lobby Lounge at City Center Rotana invited me and my friends to try their high tea offering which started in February. While I call it as “afternoon tea” rather than “high tea”, it’s a mere “tomāto-tomäto” thing with just a few differentiating variables. Bottom line, it is an afternoon affair with tea, a luscious array of food and a hearty conversation with friends.
So how did it go?
If I will be asked to put it in one word, “Divine” would still be an understatement. What I initially thought of a typical “tea-scone-jam-cake” afternoon combo was more of like a lavish spread of all things good (savory and sweet) all paired with your choice of tea. Executive Chef Matias Ayala really poured out his expertise in coming up with the best selection of pastries and sandwiches making it an experience on its own rather than just an afternoon drinking tea.
Upon our arrival, the gracious staff escorted us to our reserved seat and explained how the afternoon will go. Despite the sophisticated set up (complete with live piano performance), you’ll feel right at home with the hospitality. No room for intimidation.
One of the wait staff explained to us that we can try the tea samples first before making that all important decision of which tea (from literally a dozen choices) to commit to.
In partnership with Dilmah, Caramel offers a wide selection of tea including Ceylon Tea in Breakfast, Apple Pie and Vanilla, Chocolate and Mint, Pomegranate and Mint, Earl Grey, Mint Green Tea, Pure Peppermint, Natural Lemon Verbena among others. And compared to their contemporaries, Caramel lets you choose to sample each before you commit. With such a wide selection, it is really hard to decide. Tough call. I ended up having the chocolate and mint.
You could also opt to have mocktails if you haven’t made up your mind on which tea to choose.
Scones and more (a lot more)
And just when we thought that the decision-making process is over, Chef Matias gave us an even harder task as the staff will bring in the assortment of mini sandwiches and sweets.
Sandwiches include smoked salmon and rillettes with crushed avocado and fried caper, coronation chicken sandwich with green apple slightly curried mayo, foie gras mousse and smoked duck, roasted beef triangle with baby spinach, celery and onion jam. Those who crave for savory sandwiches will surely be satisfied.
For that sweet tooth, you can have warm scones with clotted cream, homemade jam, and preserves. Or dig in with florentines, fig tart, lemon meringue tart, dark chocolate truffle and even Arabic sweets such as maamouls and baklava.
When they say it is more than just scones, they really mean it.
Make some room
Later on, they rolled in the carving trolley where a slow cooked Beef Wellington with mushroom duxelle, served with potato puree and rosemary jus is waiting to be devoured.
Paired with warm ratatouille tart with goat cheese covered with puff pastry, it was a welcome break from the delectable sweets we previously had.
The beef was succulent and tender, it was a perfect match!
End with a bang
And what better way to end the afternoon (which extended to early evening) affair with some show to make it even more memorable. They made a sorbet right in front of us using liquid nitrogen served with Apple Pie and Vanilla Dilmah tea infused meringue and passion fruit sauce. Whew! That was a mouthful.
That’s when I realized I needed a much faster burst rate to capture such moments. Sorry for the rather blurry shots. It could have given more justice to that “grade school science experiment”-ish act.
While it is modestly marketed as a leisure afternoon event or a post-shopping pickup, I highly recommend it for your long overdue catch-up, a birthday or even a bridal party. Without a doubt, it is one of the best high tea places in Doha and you shouldn’t dare miss it.
Reasonably priced at QAR 125 per person, Caramel High Tea is available every Thursday from 3-7PM.
For reservations and further details, you may call +974 4445 8888.