Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fairmont Pacific Rim - Afternoon Tea


Being an afternoon tea fan, I bought 2 vouchers when SocialShopper featured a deal for afternoon tea at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. The deal was $35 for 2 people, so I went with my parents and Kish. The hotel/condo building is very new, having just opened one year ago in February 2010.


There was someone standing at the door, opening it for everyone entering and exiting the hotel. A sure sign of superb service to follow, or so I thought. The Lobby Lounge is literally right in the lobby, which I suppose is a clever use of space. Since there was a Fazioli piano sitting right in the middle of the lounge, we had expected soft classical music to accompany a relaxing tea experience. Needless to say, we were a bit surprised to hear a band playing very loud energetic music to the point that we had to yell to be heard. Definitely not the kind of ambiance I was expecting for afternoon tea. Even the teapots were contemporary style. I lifted the lid of my teapot and looked inside, only to see that the tea filter was littered with damp bits of tea leaves and there was water left over in the pot! I quickly checked the other pots and found that 3 of the 4 pots had not been cleaned. I also noticed that there were only 2 teacups on the table.


We asked for clean pots and 2 more teacups as our server handed us one menu to share between the 4 of us. The afternoon tea menu gave a list of food items included in the meal. We would each have a scone, 3 sushi style tea sandwiches, 3 classic tea sandwiches, and 5 pastries/desserts.


The tea menu was limited with less than 10 choices in total. I picked the only white tea option: the jasmine pearl. Our server told us they ran out of jasmine pearl and only had regular jasmine leaves, so that was what I got.


Shortly after ordering our teas, the warm scones came with strawberry jam, Devonshire cream, and fresh blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. The scones were light and airy with a soft and fluffy texture.


The teas finally came after we finished our scones. My jasmine tea was light and fresh with a floral scent, so it was a good complement to the food. One thing that bothered me slightly was that our server scooped out the tea filters with his bare hands after steeping our teas. That seemed rather unsanitary to me as his fingers literally dipped into the water. One particularly horrifying episode was when he was spooning tea leaves into Kish's teapot. One of the leaves landed on the rim of the pot and he picked it up with his fingers. After a moment of pondering whether he should throw it out, he threw the leaf into the pot along with the rest of the leaves and proceeded to fill up the pot with hot water. That is the type of thing I would only do at home when making tea for myself, but for a server to do that in front of customers in a 5-star hotel lounge is unthinkable. And that's not the end of the story. When he was filling up Kish's teapot, he poured too quickly and the water came gushing out of the spout onto the table. Then when he removed the tea filter, his fingers dipped right into the water in the pot. It was a bit better for the rest of us since our pots were not as full. Kish ended up drinking very little of his tea, and I can understand why!


The food came in a 2-tiered tower with savouries on the bottom and sweets on the top.


I was wondering what sushi style tea sandwiches would look like, but they were actually just sushi and not sandwiches. The tuna tataki crusted with chili pepper powder and other spices was delicious. The crab wrapped with cucumber and topped with tobiko tasted clean and refreshing, but I found the miso tofu a bit bland. As for the tea sandwiches, the more typical afternoon tea fare, the egg salad was light and slightly lacked flavour. But the tiger prawn sandwich was very tasty with thin strips of onions and red/yellow peppers. The worst item on the savoury tier would be the tandoor roasted chicken. The bread was very dry and the filling did not taste like tandoor chicken at all.


Apart from the green matcha layer cake with lychee, the rest of the desserts were fairly common. Although I do have a bit of a sweet tooth, I found most of the desserts much too sweet except for the fruit tart and the financier. I think the pastry chef should have taken into account the fact that each customer would be eating 5 desserts in a row, and adjusted the sweetness in accordance to that. My favourite would be the fruit tart. I thought I would enjoy the macarons the most, but their quality varied greatly. I had 2 macarons and their textures were completely different. One of them had very little filling, so it was like eating 2 meringue cookies stacked together. The other one had too much filling and was overly chewy. The matcha cake actually tasted pretty good, but it was a bit on the sweet side. The chocolate shell filled with chocolate ganache was sickeningly sweet. It was so sweet that I almost couldn't swallow it.


Despite the episode with the tea and the loud music, I appreciated the experience as a contemporary afternoon tea adventure. I was impressed by the Asian-inspired menu and the creativity that went into creating the little treats. But I do believe there is a lot to improve on in terms of quality of food and service.

Lobby Lounge at Fairmont Pacific Rim on Urbanspoon
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4 comments:

eeScorpius on March 28, 2011 1:49 pm said...

I bought this coupon too...but your server sounds horrible omg...

krispymilk on March 28, 2011 1:57 pm said...

Yea... we were all horrified! Couldn't believe that just happened. But I read some other blog entries and their experiences seemed to be better. Hope this doesn't happen to you! I would suggest visiting on a weekday when they're less busy though.

Jade on April 05, 2011 3:54 am said...

omg. Was it a rushed experience though?

krispymilk on April 05, 2011 11:23 am said...

No, we took our time and service was pretty slow. I don't think they're rushed because they only serve one round of customers or maybe two(afternoon tea only available 2-4 pm everyday). But anyway it's not the environment where you'd want to stay and chat since the music is so loud, at least when I was there.

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