Two for tea
KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 ― When asked to suggest a place in KL for high tea outside of hotels, a friend was stumped. Sure, many places serve tea and cakes but a dedicated high tea is something else. If done well, it is not just a snack but a full-on meal with a selection of sandwiches and sweets served in tiered trays. Just the name conjures up visions of ladies whiling away the afternoon catching up on gossip after a shopping spree!
Well, here are two high teas we sampled recently... the search for more places will continue, of course.
The first stop, Maison Francaise. An elegant sprawling mansion surrounded by lush greenery, it even has a swimming pool and is decorated just exquisitely. You will feel like you have stepped into a stately home instead of a posh French restaurant tucked away in a hilly enclave right smack in the city.
Head chef Franck Lamache’s impeccable credentials ― this includes working as a private chef to the President of Kazakhstan and Michelin-starred establishments such as Les Ambassadeurs at Hotel de Crillon, Paris, Alain Ducasse and Hotel Taillevent ― mean you are in for a real treat.
Although high tea is typically a very English thing with scones as a staple, Chef Lamache’s French take on the afternoon meal is a much-welcomed delightful twist. Each high tea set consists of nine to 10 pastries and it is meant for just one person!
I started with the smoked salmon sandwich, which is a three-layer affair toasted lightly. Bursting with flavours that balanced nicely against each other, it was delicious. The salmon is smoked by the chef himself, so you don’t get the sometimes overly salty taste of store-bought smoked salmon. Layered with onion, tomato, salad and caper, the sandwich is seasoned with lemon juice, salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce.
Chef Lamache said that he might make a chicken sandwich, with poached chicken breast seasoned in chicken stock, for variety later.
Next, I tried the Raspberry and Frangipane (Almond Sauce) tart. It was just nice, not overly sweet and you can taste the juicy raspberry in the pastry dough. The brioche was soft and fluffy, heavenly when spread with the Micro French butter. Yes, Chef Lamache made the brioche himself. In fact, everything in the high tea set is made in-house.
My favourite was the Cannele de Bordeaux, a small cake shaped like a chef’s toque with a custard-like texture on the inside. As you bite through the outer caramelized layer, you can taste a slight hint of rum. Fabulous.
The apricot tart was good although the crust was a little too hard. Chef Lamache said that the fruit tart would not necessarily be apricots every week, it could be strawberries or cherries next time.
A Central European doughnut with filling, the Berliner comes in flavours of lemon, raspberry, chocolate, apple, vanilla or apricot marmalade. The chocolate Berliner was decadent but I found the vanilla Berliner a tad too sweet for my liking.
My second most favourite pastry was the Apple Tarte Tatin, which is an upside-down apple tart. Juicy, with the pastry done just right ― I secretly wished I could have a jarful of them!
The menu changes weekly but a few of the signature pastries such as the Cannele de Bordeaux, Apple Tarte Tatin, Berliner, sandwich and brioche will remain.
He said in the future, he plans to have a la carte high tea pastries as well, such as brioche a tete, whole tarts and so on. Sainy Chun, the owner of Maison Francaise, said that they will adjust the menu according to the feedback of customers.
We were served Chrysanthemum and Passion fruit tea, an in-house blend that is available any time. It came with saffron sugar sticks which weren’t necessary as the tea was flavoured with refreshing floral and fruity tones.
Maison Francaise serves eight types of tea from French brand Dammann ranging from the classic Earl Grey to the more unique Gunpowder Green Tea. They also serve Illy coffee such as espresso, Americano, cappuccino and cafe latte.
Chun said she is looking to bring in Korean red ginseng tea in the future to add to the tea list.
The next stop was TWG Tea Salon & Boutique at Pavilion. They have three types of high tea set menus: the 1837, Chic and Fortune.
Within the Chic and Fortune sets, there are three different sets each. We decided to go for the Fortune TWG Tea Croque Monsieur set which consists of a pot of TWG Tea from the tea list (within RM18 range), warm toasted sandwich with French Gruyere cheese and turkey ham, a choice of two freshly baked scones or muffins served with TWG Tea jelly and whipped cream or a patisserie from the trolley and a choice of three macarons.
The waiter recommended the Pink Flamingo tea which is a blend of hibiscus and green tea. I’ve always liked fruity and floral teas but the Pink Flamingo didn’t meet my expectations.
TWG’s sandwich was good but not fantastic. It reminded me of pizza, with the cheese toasted over the bread and the taste of the turkey ham. The portion of the chocolate muffin sprinkled with icing sugar was undoubtedly generous but it tasted ordinary. The scone on the other hand was great especially with the TWG Tea jelly which is Earl Grey-flavoured.
A big fan of macarons, I was told that the tea-infused macarons at TWG were yummy. We ordered Bain de Roses Tea, Lemon Bush Tea and Grand Wedding Tea, Passion Fruit & Coconut flavours. Taking a bite out of the Lemon Bush Tea macaron, I was expecting something citrusy but it turned out too sweet. The Bain de Roses Tea and Grand Wedding Tea, Passion Fruit & Coconut macarons were overly sweet too, to the point that I could barely taste the flavours.
Having said that, I’ve tried the Napolean Tea & Caramel macaron flavour in Singapore before and found that heavenly.
TWG has a number of a la carte high tea selections, from the sandwiches to the croque monsieurs.
Both high tea experiences were very different, with one in a high-end shopping mall and one in a secluded beautiful mansion. If you are looking for something indulgent after an afternoon of shopping, TWG fits the bill perfectly but Maison Francaise is really the place to while the afternoon away... at your leisure.
Maison Francaise (maisonfrancaise.com.my)
5 Jalan Changkat Kia Peng
50450 Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia
Tel: 03 21441474
High Tea starts from 1pm till 5pm
RM38++ per person (minimum two persons)
TWG Tea Salon & Boutique (twgtea.com)
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
Level 2, Lot P2.16.00 & 2.34.01
168, Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +60 321429922
Tea Time starts from 3pm till 6pm
RM55++ per set including a pot of tea (within RM18 range)