Nutcracker Afternoon Tea @ Shangri-La
Oh, yeah. You bet your bottom dollar that it was super bougie. Lucky enough for me I was gifted a certificate for high tea, just in time for the holidays! Needless to say, I was more than happy to once again attend high tea in the lavish lobby of this location.
My first time having high tea at the Shangri-La was actually this past June during a week-long birthday celebration. Aren’t those just the best?
During my first experience, I was amazed at the service and sheer artistry of all the intricate nibbles served to us like smoked ricotta brioche bites or poached, truffled chicken topped with honey, chive and bacon gremolata. Don’t even get me started on their pastries—strawberry goat cheese mousse, anyone?
After having an unreal experience during their springtime honey-inspired high tea, I knew that I'd definitely need to check out what would be in store during the festive winter season. And let me say, this most recent visit did not disappoint!
Checking it all out with me was Bria. My Florence roomie turned super-pal was there to share in the delights of the #NutcrackerHighTea, inspired by the beloved ballet classic. Drawing on this source of inspiration, each sip and nibble on the drink and beverage menu was created to reflect warm and familiar holiday flavours like snappy gingerbread, toasty cinnamon, roasted hazelnuts, fresh cranberries, and decadent cacao.
Starting with the service, our server (who was also named Sylvia!) was incredibly friendly. She took the time to give us tea recommendations and even share what’s in the works for next season’s high tea menu. Pssst, it’s a Chinese New Year theme!
Sylvia was quick to start us off with a welcome cocktail called a Kiss for Klara! Made with Cointreau, cranberry juice and a splash of Prosecco, this was a sweet hello, inviting us into what was soon to come. Garnished with sugar crystals and a pickled grape, Bria and I quite enjoyed the cocktail. I found the pickled grape interesting, like a sweet pickle, but according to Bria it was reminiscent of the grapes found in Jamaican fruit cake.
With this starter cocktail, we were also served an amuse-bouche, a Nutmeg Panna Cotta. Its cool creaminess really played well with the infusion of warm holiday spices. Palates prepared, we were ready to venture into the menu, but not before selecting a tea that would be served in beautifully painted porcelain.
We were brought a box of teas that we were able to smell before making a decision, which was actually kind of fun. After all, smell is one of the main components that we rely on when making a decision on what to put into our bodies!
Given that it is the festivus, Bria and I both decided on a rooibos tea called the Nutcracker. It was deliciously comforting with hints of marzipan and vanilla. Each sip felt as though it was giving me a hug from the inside.
Not long after, a porcelain plate painted with a colourful nutcracker, was brought to us. On it were four different sandwiches, all different in ingredients but all rich in flavour. Here’s a breakdown of the pristine bite-size tea sandwiches.
Roasted Heritage Turkey
Chestnut stuffing, cranberry sauce on viennoise roll
Topped with a fried sage leaf, this sandwich was your classic holiday meal all wrapped up in a single bite. Between the familiar comfort of a thyme-sprinkled stuffing, juicy roasted turkey breast and the dash of berry tartness, I wanted another!
Cucumber and Dill Crème Fraîche
Avocado on rye
Fresh and mild, it acted as a nice palate cleanser after digging straight into the turkey sandwich!
Sockeye Smoked Salmon & Crab Finger Sandwich
Snow crab, green onion mayonnaise on whole meal bread
Beautiful, buttery slices of ruby red salmon and sea salt flecked crab paired with a creamy and almost mildly garlic spread to create a wonderfully balanced sensation on the palate.
Maple Glazed Ham
Vintage cheddar, green tomato chutney on house brioche
There’s nothing I love more than a holiday honey ham; it’s like having dessert for dinner, which I'm always a fan of. The tomato chutney was truly unearthly; chunky and almost like candied fruit, it was an amazing addition in between pillowy brioche.
After daintily eating our miniatures sandwiches, we blotted out linen napkins across our mouths and waited in anticipation for the next one… the main event, scones and pastries!
Presented on a three levelled tier were freshly baked scones with accompanying clotted cream and seasonal fruit preserves, in addition to a multitude of gorgeous pastries, each looking more pristine than the next.
We began with the freshly baked scones: Stolen Spiced Scone and Golden Sultana Soaked in Vanilla Scented Mulled Wine. The spiced scone was unlike any other scone I’ve ever had before, it felt like a defining Christmas treat with punchy ginger notes and warm allspice overtones. These scones paired so beautifully with a dollop of English clotted cream, which helped contrast the spiciness of the ginger and nutmeg.
As for the raison and mulled wine scone, the interior was so soft and lovely, while the outside was perfectly firm. Rosemary and orange marmalade complimented the juiciness and sweetness of the raisons without a doubt.
Moving our way up the tier were two levels of pure pastry passion. Painting chocolate decals and shaping miniature striped candy cane chocolates, the pastry chefs orchestrating the Shangri-La’s high tea are incredible, working like Santa’s elves to bring the Nutcracker theme to life.
Here are the incredible sweets that we were blessed to taste:
Mont Blanc Christmas Tree
Chestnut and eggnog crème brûlée, pandan cream
With a rich and earthy toasted nut flavour, the custardy centre was just as silky as your typical Parisian brûlée!
Kirsch genoise, mulled wine jam, vanilla whipped ganache
This flourless chocolate yule log was fudgy beyond belief and so cute to ogle at! Plus, this dessert has inspired me to try making a yule log this year, which says a lot!
Cranberry & Orange Tart
White chocolate crèmeaux, orange curd, poached cranberries
A much-needed infusion of tartness, the citrus curd helped cut all the lusciously creamy fats in the other pastries. I saved this mid-pastry tasting to give me a little palate recharge!
Caramelia diplomat, hazelnut financier
A fresh wisp of minty coolness, the mousse was light as air. The details (tiny chocolate candy cane) on this dessert were almost too adorable to eat!
Rum soaked sponge, tonka bean buttercream
Better than your grandmas fruitcake, unless your Grandma knew what was up! This boozy fruitcake was warm and buttery and topped with the most scrumptiously and velvety frosting!
Butter tart centre, candied pecans
Who doesn’t love a cookie, and a good cookie at that? Give any dessert a butter tart spin and I (or anyone with a palate) is a sucker. This was the single best gingerbread cookie I’ve had in my life!
For anyone who thinks high tea will leave you feeling peckish, you're sadly mistaken. Yes, all sandwiches and pastries are mini, but good God, there are so many different bites to taste. Plus, all bites pack such a punch or are so decadent that a single bite is enough! By the end of the tea, I was ready to wave my linen napkin in defeat but I couldn't bear the thought of not tasting everything. So I continued, much to my stomach's discontent... a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
Though an afternoon tea at the Shangri-La will set you back $85 (taxes and gratuity not included), it's a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with a special someone. What kept coming to mind both times having high tea was how great a mother’s day gift this would be! Start saving for the special occasion, but trust me, it's worth it.
The teas are wonderfully selected and the cocktails are also beautifully curated along with the fantastic seasonally changing menus. There isn’t anything on this high tea menu that you could easily recreate yourself which speaks to the price point. It is well worth dining here because the caliber of dining is beyond satisfactory, it’s unbelievable. Honestly.
I would definitely invite you all to check it! Just reminder to keep an eye out for their seasonally changing menus! Regardless, you'll be in good hands!