Luxury Hotels


Is kale becoming king? Above is a starter at Butcher’s Block at RAFFLES SINGAPORE. Hawaii-born chef Jordan Keao and his team put so much flavour into  it– as they did the subsequent short rib.  Similarly, a side of kale made a very good meal-opener at the charming restaurant of 11 CADOGAN GARDENS in London.

Perhaps, after the long run of afternoon tea, dinner appetizers, or starters, should now take a bow. On the tea side, it is time to move on from the traditional, say THE RITZ in London. There are five daily sittings, starting 11.30am to 7.30pm, and the basic cost is £67, with Champagne at £22 per glass.

Afternoon tea was introduced in England by the Duchess of Bedford in 1840 because her stomach would not stomach the long wait between lunch and dinner. She invited friends to join her for an ‘afternoon snack, which within four decades had evolved to a high-glass event, long gowns, gloves and hats for an event usually served between four and five o’clock. Today the meal, for that is what it has become, is generally less dressy, although the website of The Ritz, always a stickler for dress codes, says ‘Gentlemen are required to wear a jacket and tie (jeans and sportswear are not permitted for either ladies or gentlemen)’.

Travel a kilometre west of The Ritz and you come to Maybourne’s THE BERKELEY. For £85 you get a big name, Cédric Grolet, known for his trompe-l’œil artistry and having an Instagram following of 3.6 million.  His  new ‘Goutea’, in the Rémi Tessier-designed Berkeley Café, is a fusion of goûter and the best of British afternoon tea.  Welcome is an iced-vanilla tea.  A cake stand then showcases two savoury and five sweet creations.  Apparently the menu will evolve and change with the seasons but for Autumn, now, Grolet features the chef’s iconic vanilla flower, plus other French edibles and, for a purist English nod, a scone with cream and jam.  The sweet pièce de resistance is a glistening looks-like green apple which is filled with apple and dill. The savoury goodies are Grolet’s highly intricate take on avocado on toast and a looks-like burrata which reveals tomato gel and basil pesto when cut open. A mini comté cheese and and a warm bacon quiche are bought mid-service  and you also may well see Grolet himself circulating the room with trays of freshly baked madeleines.

Where else would Girlahead head for memorable afternoon tea?  Going east around the world, let’s kick off at FAIRMONT EMPRESS, Victoria, on Vancouver Island.  In New York, choices could be the light-filled Lobby Lounge at MANDARIN ORIENTAL, at the southwest corner of Central Park. At the south-east corner of The Park, head to THE PIERRE a Taj Hotel. In Amsterdam, have tea surrounded by the best art books on the market at HOTEL DE L’EUROPE. In Paris, no two thoughts about it. Cédric Grolet again, at Dorchester Collection’s LE MEURICE.

So, will we, in a few years’ time, see similar articles on different takes on kale?  Watch this space – and, by the way, check out the new MARY GOSTELOW’S INNER CIRCLE, which today looks at getting ready for the Monaco Boat Show, How a top GM is switching to a new challenge, How a new brand starts (listen below), Leaving one big brand for another, and this week’s Preferred meeting at THE LONDONER.  In London naturally.