Mashrabiya Lounge

We take afternoon tea on the terrace at Fairmont The Palm’s 24 hour café lounge. Although Mashrabiya Lounge is just off to the side of the hotel lobby, unlike many 24 hour hotel cafés, it is an attractive spot that doesn’t look as if its primary USP is in its longer opening hours. The interior had a welcoming, living room feel to it, with large, cosy chairs in ethereal shades of turquoise, grey and jade green. Even so, and even in the afternoon heat, when we visited to sample the afternoon tea, we couldn’t quite resist sitting in the elaborately high-backed wicker chairs overlooking the sea on the terrace. Taking our seats outside, the staff already began to shine out for their excellent service skills, bringing over extra tables so that we had enough space for our tea stands, an umbrella since it was hot outside, and then another umbrella, to make sure we could both enjoy some shade. We ordered the classic afternoon tea, which came with a choice of tea and a fresh juice, and when I asked whether that would also include water, the waitress said she would bring us some, but didn’t add any additional charges for this. When faced with the choice of tea, we barely needed to look at the list on offer, because instead we had the services of a sweet, chatty and knowledgeable tea sommelier, who made some good recommendations and even brought out two fascinating tea menus to look at, which displayed a sample of each tea next to the description. On her recommendation, I opted for the black leaf Kenyan tinderet, which was light, unusually floral and even a little citrussy for a black tea, and it made for easy, refreshing drinking. My friend chose the jasmine dragon pearl, which had an unexpected, fruity, peachy edge, and was also excellent. Proceedings kicked off with an enjoyable bowl of stewed plums and peaches with a delicate, foamy vanilla cream. From the sandwiches, we particularly enjoyed the soft, sweet brioche buns, piped with cream cheese and fennel for an extra edge, the citrussy smoked salmon, topped with the salted pop of salmon roe and the beef slices enlivened with a little horseradish. The scones came out separately and were so warm, fresh and soft, it was no trouble to divide them with your hands. Alongside the Devonshire cream and thick, toffee-textured home-made jams they were exceptional. The selection of cakes had a rare, but refreshingly British edge with Battenburg cake, Welsh bara brith and mini Eccles cakes (that were nearly as flaky, fruity and nutty as baklava and shortbread) as well as a decadent, gooey sliver of caramel slice. Between the excellent service, novelty, quality of the tea and highly enjoyable, well prepared food, this new afternoon tea spot is one to try. Dhs95 per person for afternoon with tea and soft drinks. Dhs225 with pink bubbly. Dhs245 with bubbly mixed drinks.

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