Friday, March 11, 2011
Ritz-Carlton Buckhead (high tea)
3434 Peachtree Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA www.ritzcarlton.com
Last Sunday my sister and I took my grandmother to high tea at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. Tea reservations are available at 2:30pm and 3pm. If you plan to eat dinner that day before 9pm, you should probably opt for the earlier reservation.
I'm saying this because you will completely stuff yourself at high tea.
Each guests gets to order his/her own flavor of tea, with options ranging from classic Earl Grey to green tea passion and African amber. Grandmother and I ordered the vanilla bean, and Sabrina ordered the orange jasmine, both black teas. There aren't as many tea options as you'd find at Dr. Bombay's (previously reviewed) in Candler Park, but there are enough. And unlike at Dr. Bombay's, your personal teapot at the Ritz will seem bottomless. A smiling, unobtrusive server will refill your tea every time you run low.
Along with your tea, you'll get a plate of finger sandwiches in various flavors. All of them were good, none of them excellent. My favorite would probably be the smoked salmon on light rye topped with caviar. Sabrina enjoyed the little cornbread style one. There's also a chicken salad, pimento cheese and (of course) cucumber. I found the latter to be slightly bland. They are lovely things to behold, at any rate.
Please don't fill up on the sandwiches, because you'll next be receiving a multi-tiered silver tray of sweets, and all of these are awesome. On the pic you'll see the uppermost item is glazed lemon poppyseed cake, below which are chocolate financiers sprinkled with powdered sugar, and on the bottom level are scones. And yes, the Ritz provides you with tiny jars of Double Devon (clotted) cream and strawberry jam for your scones. These 2 items are super yummy.
But that's not all. (Yes, I'm serious.) You'll get a second plate with tiny, sweet extras, such as the macaroons in various flavors, a miniature cheesecake topped with a blackberry, and an apple cobbler-like mix topped with cream and a white chocolate stick (all in a square shotglass). Cute, cute, cute!
And if that's not enough, each guest also receives one of the Ritz' "famous" chocolate chip cookies, wrapped in plastic and sealed with a large gold Ritz-Carlton lion sticker. Their intent is for you to take this home, so you can extend the experience with more sugar.
The absolute best thing about taking high tea at the Ritz is the atmosphere. The furnishings are sumptuous and beautiful, the dark woods offset by the cheerful light coming through the large windows. A pianist plays classical music in the background, and people lounge on plush sofas and leather chairs. With a neverending pot of good tea, a plethora of cakes and the soft laughter of happy people around (but not too close to) you, it's easy to forget all your troubles. The Ritz is a veritable oasis in the desert of life - a place where you can't possibly think about soaring gas prices, AIDS in Africa, Sarah Palin or any other tragic subject. There's no TV to remind you of the world's problems. The tea room at the Ritz Buckhead admits no unpleasantness in any form. Crazy mother calling you at all hours? Turn off your cell phone and enjoy the tranquility.
High tea as described above is $34/person, with a more expensive option available if you want fresh strawberries and champagne. How in the world anyone could eat more than I ate on Sunday, though, is beyond me.
It's not cheap, but it IS the Ritz. On the bright side, your server will validate your valet parking. Expect the valet to greet you by name when you leave the sanctuary that is the Ritz Carlton and pull out into Buckhead's not-so-pleasant traffic.
Verdict: A wonderful treat.