Every now and again I feel the need to act my age. Thankfully its very rare, but when it does happen, instead of doing something boring I end up having a very lovely afternoon with one of my girlfriends at the Burj Al Arab!
I should confess that it isn’t exactly how this wonderful day started… Read here for the whole sorry cupcake saga.
I know I am going to go on a rambling off topic bit about the hotel first, so sorry but….
The Burj Al Arab is one of the most iconic buildings in the world. It looks like a ship’s sail and is apparently the 3rd tallest hotel.. in the world. It is one of only a handful of 7* hotels… in the world. (It’s Dubai, so “in the world” seems to come up far too frequently to bother trying to word it any other way!!)
It also has a super cool helipad that doubles as tennis courts or a golf tee when they need to do some promo work!
The inside is, well… gaudy. It’s beauty lies in the unashamedly over the top decorations. It is to be seen to be believed. Incredible. Its so ugly and yet really is stunning! I know that doesn’t make sense, but when you see inside it, you will know it is totally possible!!
You first have to drive over the bridge to the hotel, which is really rather awesome. Security is naturally very tight so when you get through and you’re looking at this giant building in front of you, you feel like you’ve gained access to something magical. The hotel cars parked outside help with this illusion – I mean, where else in the world would there be a fleet of branded Rolls Royce Phantom’s ready to usher the gusts around?! Where else in the world would you put your brand/logo on the side of that car?!?
Anyway… as you walk in there is a kind of waterfall fountain hybrid in front of you, which is set to different patterns so water leaps around in perfect precision.
Either side are escalators, and either side of them are fish tanks. Yep. Giant fish tanks. Did you know that there is a restaurant literally surrounded by the tanks somewhere in this giant building. Random, but true.
Lots of fishies!!
As you get to the top of the escalators, there is another jumping fountain thingie.
It’s here that you finally think to look up… and boy is it a long way up! I don’t think it’s the full height of the buildng, but in that moment you realise just how tiny you are in comparison. It’s unbelievable.
According to my lovely friend, Claire, the hotel was originally designed to be a casino but the permissions were eventually turned down whereupon it was made into a hotel. Just a random piece of information for you before I get to the star of this exceedingly long and rambly post…
Afternoon tea at Sahn Eddar!
Thanks to The Entertainer, we had a buy one get one free offer which is why we ended up here. I think AED 500 is a little bit much really for what in my mind is a few sandwiches and cakes, with a cup of tea thrown in on top!
Naturally we decided to treat ourselves with a glass of bubbles – Louis Roederer, no less. (Same vineyard that makes Cristal, but this was the Brut variety). If you go for the afternoon tea with champagne it costs about AED 560, but this isn’t included in The Entertainer voucher. You’re looking at AED 135 per glass instead. Yep. Ouch!
The other price pitfall by the way is the water. I don’t drink too much tea – literally the last time I had a cup was at the last afternoon tea I went to! My beverage of choice is water. So when we ordered a bottle we didn’t expect it to be cheap, but AED 40 for a mid-sized bottle of Aqua Panna was a bit obnoxious. It really put the cost up greatly. We weren’t offered an alternative. When I asked for water, it’s just what we were bought.
Back to the good part though… the food!
NB: These are my recollections and feelings on the dishes unless otherwise stated!
We started with the very strange sounding White Chocolate “Petit Pot” with Green Apple. We both agreed this was not something we would have considered if given an option, but it was actually a very nice, light start to the tea. The which chocolate part was the consistency of a good crème brûlée. The apple was half way between a sauce and a jelly, and perfectly balanced the sweetness of the white chocolate. The pretty swirl on top was white chocolate and edible. Top marks for this one!
Then came the assortment of finger sandwiches. Firstly, they are too large to be proper finger sandwiches. This is both good and bad, but from a finesse point of view, I would have preferred them to be smaller.
We had a similar selection to the advertised menu, but not Quite the same.
We started with the open faced cucumber and mint cream cheese on a piece of saffron focaccia. It was rather nice indeed. The bread was dense which offset the lightness of the cream cheese and cucumber really well. I would happily have had another of those, but top ups were not offered.
Next was the open faced truffled hen’s egg and cress – meant to be on an artisan baguette but confoundingly served on a round of rye bread. It didn’t work. Firstly there was too much truffle which made everything taste muddy. I imagine with the lightness of the baguette this may have been less so, but the heavy and perfumed rye bread just bought it down further.
Next up, the coronation chicken sandwich in tomato and spinach loaf, topped with green apple and vadouvan whipped cream. It was actually really good! It was much more heavily “curried” than any I have had before, but it really was tasty. The apple confused me a little until I trued it and then it made perfect sense – it cut the taste so it wasn’t overbearing. I couldn’t tell you if the spinach and tomato loaf (slices of bread) tasted as such as it was lost in the rest, but it really came together to make a beautiful flavour. I still don’t know what vadouvan whipped cream is.
Saving the vest until last, we moved onto the pinwheel of classic smoked salmon and rillette crushed avocado and fried cpapers in white bread. Right. Where to start? This is the one that really needed to be downsized in my mind. It’s huge and chunky, and you just get an overwhelming salmon overload. There is a very thin (almost like it had been attacked with a rolling pin) piece of bread. It has a thin layer of smoked salmon it is then stuffed to overflowing with smushed up salmon and bits, and then rolled into a fat cigar shape. There is a tiny blob of avo on top of a sliver of smoked salmon as presentation. Just no. It was disgusting. A pinwheel is meant to be much more delicate. it is literally rolled into itself. It was so disappointing.
We saved what we thought would be the best, for last… Roast sirloin of beef triangle with garden pea mousse on white and brown toast. Thankfully it wasn’t on toast, it was just on bread. Sadly, for me, I hadn’t realised that it came with the pea mousse. I absolutely loathe peas. It is literally the one vegetable I do not eat. Blugh! This one was never going to be my winner, but it would have been less revolting if the slice of beef had been even the same thickness as the smoked salmon on the previous sandwich. I don’t know how they managed to cut it so thin it could be used as tracing paper, but they did. Bravo!?
Next up on the 6 course list was the Mediterranean tartlette, stuffed with ratatoulle, olives and feta cheese. Oh my wow! The pastry was heavenly perfection. It was light and flaky, yet still was substantial enough for you to taste the buttery goodness through the vegetable medly. I didn’t get the feta cheese come through in it at all, but the pastry was soooo good that I just didn’t care!
By this point in the proceedings, we were getting rather full, so a short break for a sorbet was much needed. I don’t know if they always serve the lychee and rose water sorbet, but they probably should. It was divine.
I love that the rose petal looks like a kiss!
Maybe a nice cup of mint tea too…
Onto dish 5 of 6… Scones!! This was the course I was most looking forward to. After years of not being able to eat wheat without being very ill, my recent discovery that I can has meant that I am making up for lost time with some things. Scones are one of those things. My mother’s scones are famous and much requested by anyone who has ever had one, so these had a lot to stand up against.
There were two sets – one plain and one fruit.
I am drooling again.
They came with clotted cream (we of course had to ask for extra of that!), a strawberry and rose jam, a passion fruit preserve, and an orange jam – which is entirely different from marmalade btw!
What can I say? I asked for one more scone because I needed to have just a little bit more. Amazing. They are still not quite as good as Mum’s, but they come in a close second place!
I put a filter on this one apparently! I must be getting better at my phone!
The final course was the cakes. Because of my nut allergy, they had prepared me some separately from the main options, which was really kind. I would like to be able to tell you all about them and the selections offered to Claire, but I can’t remember much now!
I will say that whatever it was with a lime jelly was disgusting, and whatever the creamy profiterole thingie was, was divine!
We absolutely rolled out of there, after a quick glass of wine up at the Sky View bar. We had such a lovely day and I would absolutely go back.
Wine at Sky View Bar
As a side note… While we were up at the bar, we noticed that the afternoon tea was identical, with the exception of being offered top ups after every course. They also had dates which we didn’t. I assume that the AED 200 price difference is about the view.
As a bonus… Did you ever wonder how these places have such perfect table cloths……