Embarking on a journey of indulgence, Apple Sharma headed to The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain, to taste its renowned afternoon tea and take a chance to chat with the new pastry chef.
Mother’s Day is just around the corner, so if you are looking for a special way to spoil your mum, look no further than the legendary afternoon tea at the Ritz Gourmet Lounge. Offering a touch of elegance and sophistication, it’s the perfect treat to celebrate the occasion.
Quintessentially British, an afternoon tea experience involves enjoying a variety of mini fares in the form of delicate sandwiches, scones, pastries and cakes. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but on occasions I do crave something decadent and chocolatey. So, when my colleague and I received an invite to try the afternoon tea at the Ritz Gourmet Lounge, I ignored my rule of ‘sugar-free weekdays’ and gave in to my cravings.
The Ritz Gourmet Lounge is as inviting as its afternoon tea menu. Inspired by the Belle Epoque period in French history, the décor and ambience are reminiscent of a chic Parisian salon de thé, complete with luxurious Napoleon chairs and sofas featuring floral upholstery. As we took our place in a cosy corner of the lounge, the first thing I noticed was the elegant table settings, immaculately arranged with fine china crockery featuring pretty floral motifs.
A feast for the eyes and senses, our afternoon tea comprised a threetiered platter, offering an array of savoury and sweet delights. Let’s start with the bottom tier. The spinach quiche was a standout, with a buttery crust and perfectly seasoned filling. The croque monsieur, a classic French sandwich, was given a gourmet touch with its layers of ham, cheese and béchamel sauce. The mushroom and cheese mini croissant was flaky and buttery, while the falafel wrap was a refreshing departure from the Frenchinspired items, with its perfect blend of spices.
Moving on to the middle tier, the sandwiches were simple but wellexecuted. The tuna and mayonnaise sandwich was light and fresh, while the chicken and mayonnaise was hearty and satisfying. And, of course, the classic egg and mayonnaise sandwich did not disappoint.
Gearing up my taste buds for the pièce de resistance, the top tier of the platter offered a selection of colourful, sweet petit fours. These mouthwatering morsels of mini gateaux were devoured within minutes and hit the sweet spot perfectly.
No afternoon tea is complete without scones, which were simply divine. We had three different varieties to choose from – classic plain, raisin and date. Served warm with a side of clotted cream and jam, they made a perfect pairing with a cup of tea.
Just as we were feeling scrumptiously satisfied, we were introduced to the man behind these delicious fares, Executive Pastry Chef Devopriyo Gupta, who surprised us with a fantastic lineup of his specialities.
First up was the raspberry and white chocolate pastry. The sweetness of the white chocolate perfectly complemented the tartness of the raspberries, making for a heavenly combination. Next was the macaron ispahan – an exceptional delicacy. This delicate pastry featured light and airy macaron shells filled with a luscious rose, raspberry and lychee filling.
For pistachio lovers, the pistachio ganache and pralines pastry is a musttry. The rich and nutty flavours of the green nut are expertly balanced, making for a truly indulgent treat.
Moving on to the white chocolate and blueberry pastry, this sweet and tangy dessert was bursting with flavour, with a classic white chocolate and blueberry pairing that never fails to satisfy.
The honey cake was a true showstopper, with its 10 layers of sponge cake and dulce de leche cream. Expertly executed, each layer of sponge was perfectly moist and the cream added a rich and decadent flavour.
For those with dietary restrictions, the pecan caramel bar is a glutenfree option that does not compromise on taste. The Jivara milk chocolate mousse with sponge and caramel layer was expertly crafted, with the pecan adding a delicious nutty crunch.
The mandarin square is another fruity delight, with its orange confit and whipped ganache filling. The full citrus flavour of the orange makes for a refreshing and light pastry option.
Last but certainly not least, the chocolate hazelnut bar was a true work of art. This eggless pastry featured an almond sponge and crispy feuilletine mixed with milk chocolate, all topped with a chocolate crèmant, milk chocolate chantilly, caramelised hazelnut and 22-carat gold leaf. A truly decadent treat.
Chef Devopriyo surpassed all our expectations with this enormous selection of delicacies. With a keen eye for detail and a love for chocolate, he speaks passionately about his creativity and love for pastries. Taking inspiration from local spices, Chef Devopriyo has created some unusual desserts in the past, including zaatar, black lime, as well as saffron and date ice creams. “I love the flavours of these three ice creams and sometimes I make dark chocolate mousse with zaatar, which go very well together,” he says. He takes globally classical dishes, infuses them with local ingredients for a Bahraini touch, and uses the word ‘glocal’ to describe them. Talking about his personal favourite, the chocolate hazelnut pastry, he adds: “I love hazelnut, personally. Firstly, it’s eggless and I’m a hardcore chocolate lover.”
Overall, the afternoon tea concept at the Ritz Gourmet Lounge is nothing short of exquisite. The attention to detail in both the presentation and execution of the food is impressive, and the elegant ambience of the lounge only adds to the experience. These are no ordinary pastries, but rather, decadent treats that will leave you wanting more. We highly recommend it for a chic eat or an elegant Mother’s Day treat.