High Tea at Table Bay

An innocent cup of late-afternoon tea is all I wanted, and all I expected. After vowing to skip lunch after an unplanned gorging that morning, a quiet cup of English Breakfast sounded divine; it sounded calorie-free.

But Spring High Tea at The Table Bay, Cape Town’s five-star Victorian darling on the V&A Waterfront and one of the Leading Hotels in the World, is a much more decadent affair than a simple cup of Dilmah’s; this, friends, is a gourmet three-course feast.

It begins, rapturously, with warm, buttery mini-quiches. Crumbly, delicate, filled with minced mushrooms, spinach, and feta. Yum. The standout (according to my non-vegetarian girlfriend) is the bacon, egg, and gruyere mix. Small sandwiches, including a smoked salmon wrap, round out the first course.

(At this point, I’m already stealing furtive glances at the dessert buffet, a temptuous spread of artfully presented cakes, pies, eclairs, and white chocolate pyramids. I really, really should have had a lighter breakfast.)

The second course arrives and we make quick work of the whole-wheat and raisin scones, still steaming as we break them in half and smother them with fresh lemon curd and cream. In my only show of caloric restraint today, I resist the urge to eat the rest of the curd with a spoon, like pudding.

Finally, the third course, or what our friendly server called “the best part.” Willy Wonka himself couldn’t concoct a dreamier spread of sweets: baked chocolate chip cheesecake, dark chocolate chiffon cake, chocolate eclair, fruit pavlova, rum baba soaked in rum, coconute chocolate sponge cake with ripples of apricot brandy, rice pudding, white chocolate cake slathered in, yes, real white chocolate.

I’m assured that the beauty of it all is that everything is calorie-free; I choose to believe it, pile my plate full, and vow that tomorrow I’ll skip breakfast.

Spring High Tea is served daily from 2:30 – 5:30pm at The Table Bay’s Lounge. The full three-course spread is 160 Rand per person; an extra 20 Rand gets you a glass of sparkling white wine. The Sinful Delight option, at 80 Rand, includes just the tea and desserts.

Photo Copyright Brian Spencer

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Brian Spencer

Brian Spencer is a Singapore-based freelance writer. He has written for BBC Travel, CNN Travel, DestinAsian, Fodor's Travel, Lonely Planet, and Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, among other publications.