TWG Tea Salon and Boutique
Refreshing tea-themed café in the Dubai Mall 1 Reviews
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The TWG Tea Salon struck me as being something of a temporal snow globe: a little glass-encased bubble. Inside, shielded from the commercial modernity of the mall around it, was a café that seemed to be from another era – and another continent entirely. The tea salon was almost trapped in time; as soon as I managed to block out the mall and store signage, the high-ceilinged dark-wood cabinets, filled with drums of tea, created a ‘fin de siècle’ aesthetic, like a Parisian apothecary or a tea salon of old.
There was a hefty tome of a tea list, filled with plenty of geeky facts about the produce, and while tea –whether you sit down to sip it or buy it in the boutique – is the core raison d’être of this venue, it was refreshing to see how cohesively the concept had eaten into the dining menu.
The pleasant, knowledgeable waiter recommended that my companion and I start with tea before eating; he dived straight in, suggesting the gyokuro samurai, a Japanese green tea. We dutifully followed his lead, although I felt outraged when I saw the Dhs56-per-pot price tag, thinking he’d lead us straight to the most expensive option. Yet my friend soon spotted teas on the menu priced at up to Dhs200. And it was a quite brilliant tea: granted, it had a slightly bitter edge (as is typical of green tea), but boasted a wonderfully fresh, seaweed-like aroma and flavour.
Palates cleansed, we moved on. Pernickety as it may sound, there seemed to be no real division between starters and main courses on the menu, and the price range was equally confusing. We kicked off (with what we hoped would be a starter) with the lobster timbale and foie gras terrine. The lobster, mixed with avocado, coriander and chives, was simple and pleasingly fresh and light. The foie gras terrine, however, looked like a piece of animal rights propaganda: a gray, leaden slab encased in inches of toxic-looking yellow slime. The taste wasn’t as unappealing, but it lacked the texture that usually makes this dish divine, and was weighed down by a heavy, viscous and metallic edge. In contrast, the cubes of sakura tea jelly were delicious, tasting more like the cherry fruit than the blossom, but had no real reason to be on the plate.
The main courses arrived looking majestic. The crispy-skinned sea bass was invitingly presented, with elegant greens and oranges on the rest of the plate. The fish was a touch tough, but the pumpkin purée underneath was divine. Light in texture and delicately vibrant in taste, with citrus and vanilla flavours, it made the plate.
The lasagna arrived, also looking rather good, until we realised that my friend had been served the wrong dish (the bolognese ragout lasagna, rather than the garden vegetable version). Eventually, after a long wait for the replacement to arrive, it proved to be an enjoyable dish, with a fresh, aromatic quality thanks to the Moroccan mint tea in the sauce.
The desserts, a crème brûlée and Normandy apple tart, were much of a muchness, but in the most glowing terms. Both were classically French, simply presented and combining, in their different constructs, a smooth creaminess infused with a woody, spicy warmth, and completed with a sticky, syrupy caramel edge.
The tea salon was a pleasant place to while away a Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, though, the longer we enjoyed the ambience, the less interest the staff showed in us. Gradually they seemed to forget we were there, but at least we managed to pay. Eventually.
The bill (for two)
1x foie gras terrine Dhs70
1x lobster timbale Dhs52
1x lasagna Dhs52
1x sea bass Dhs90
1x side salad Dhs25
1x crème brûlée Dhs28
1x apple tart Dhs32
1x water Dhs22
1x gyokuro samurai tea Dhs56
1x celebration tea Dhs36
Total (including service) Dhs463
Time Out Dubai,
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