On a recent blue-sky day, I headed to the JW Marriott Hotel at Tomorrow Square to partake of afternoon tea in the 38th floor lobby. I was rewarded with glorious views of Shanghai stretching from People’s Square all the way to Pudong. The hotel’s lobby is arranged a bit like a glamorous celebrity’s living room, with bronze sculptures and a grand piano stashed among the seating. Even with a stream of hotel guests checking in and out, it was still possible to find a quiet nook in which to enjoy the afternoon. The crowd was an amusing mix of awe-struck tourists enjoying the view and stolid men in suits conducting business meetings among the fine china.
In a nod to the building’s sleek modernity, the menu was presented on an electronic tablet, although I already knew what I wanted. The whimsical afternoon tea set, consisting of savory and sweet finger foods, was presented on an elegant two-tier tray with a separate plate of still-warm scones.
I started with the salty treats, of which there was only one misstep. The advertised crab and spinach quiche was sadly absent, having been replaced with an uninspired round of toasted bread topped with sauteed red onions and an olive. Perhaps the kitchen had just run out the quiche? Beyond that, everything was delightful. I was particularly fond of the roast beef on a fluffy black sesame seed bun and the small red pepper overflowing with herbed cream cheese.
Moving on, I devoured the two freshly baked scones which were generously served with two pots of clotted cream and both orange and berry marmalade.
I lingered over the dessert tray, relishing the pretty berry accents and playful designs. I’m not normally a fan of white chocolate, but adored the raspberry swirl lollipops and luscious cheesecake in which it starred. The petite raspberry macaroon was light and chewy, and the dark chocolate dragon was a nice surprise. The experience was at once elegant and girly. Watching the suit-clad businessmen enjoying their own tea sets made me smile for the rest of the day.