REVIEW: "Yes, we have been here before."
I tell the waiter, sorry, tea sommelier, as Mum and I settle into the armchairs and back cushions are added. I fear I may have cut Carlo off before he got into his spiel. The sommeliers are not the only innovation - this afternoon delight was high tea and now Tiffin is all the raj.
The selection of teas spreads across several pages and each has a lengthy description. Our choices are the Langham Blend, based on English Breakfast, for Mum, and the Imboolpitiya Estate Silver Tips for me.
It is said to be a "wonderfully indulgent tea in its purest form ... lightly fruity with grape, honey and floral notes." I just wanted to say the name. We each get a tiny dish of our warm, damp tea leaves so we may prod and take in the aroma.
But something is not right. The three-tiered cake stand arrives but there are spaces. Decadence is missing. Is the recession biting at the Langham?
It is suggested we start with scones while they are still warm, and we work our way up through tiny sandwiches - roast beef with horseradish, chicken with curry mayonnaise, rolled ham crepes, brioche, parsley muffins with egg mousse.
The shortbread top-tier is parmesan and rosemary and the macaron is beetroot with goats cheese.
All well and deliciously good and I don't mean to be greedy, but where's the real afternoon tea stuff, the cream, the chocolate - the gooey stuff?
There is a tea trolley off to one side that's laden with what used to be on our top tier. Does one now have to pay extra? And I have finished my tea and would like more please.
Previously there had been ready offers of hot water for the pot. I attract a sommelier's attention and ask for more. "Just top it up please." Georgie will have none of that.
She explains that the tea is now infused in tiny bags then poured into the pot when ready so it does not "stew".
She also explains that the trolley is so we can choose what we want, even if that is three of the same chocolatey, creamy gooey item.
The choices are kiwifruit lamingtons, passionfruit mini pavs, chocolate cake with cherry cream and liqueur cherries, opera cake, almond orange tart, strawberry tartlet, fruitcake, baked cheesecake and baby Florentines.
All is well with the world.
And to top it off we are each brought a folly, a surprise. Not an amuse bouche as our bouches are already ecstatic but it's a lovely extra, a tiny cornetto filled with coffee mousse and topped with coffee crystals.
WHERE: Langham Hotel Auckland, 83 Symonds St, ph 09 379 5132.
WHEN: Monday to Sunday, 12 noon-4pm.
HOW MUCH: $36 per adult Monday to Friday, $39.50 per adult Saturday, Sunday and public holidays.
WHAT'S TO EAT: High tea's been elevated.
WHAT DO WE THINK: Fabulous.
- © Fairfax NZ News