August is a month of celebrations. There is Singapore’s birthday, and of course, there is my birthday! What made this year extra special was that for the first time in 30 years, my sister voluntarily offered to give me a high tea treat! Y-E-S, the same person who used to scold me for using one piece of her cotton pad without her permission, actually lavished me with high tea! I think we have definitely reached the pinnacle of our sisterhood this year.
Anyway, my sister’s initial choice was POLLEN at Gardens by the Bay, which offers high tea set of $38++/pax. Since POLLEN is located within the Flower Dome, a high tea experience here will include free entrance to Flower Dome, which makes it very appealing. Apparently everyone else thought the same as us, and due to a series of unfortunate events, we were unable to secure reservation the day before our date.
With the threat of my birthday treat (and any future treats) being cancelled, I set off on a quest to search for the most value-for-money high tea set that could match my sister’s expectations and still fall within her budget of less than $40/pax. Because who knows, the next time she makes another offer might very well be during my 60 大寿 (60 years-old golden age). It did not take long for The Lobby Lounge at Intercontinental Singapore to appear in my search since it was featured in many online magazines. A themed high tea set called the ‘Secret Garden’ cost $78++ (inclusive of fine teas and coffee), and $108++ (inclusive of two flutes of Taittinger Brut Champagne) for two guests, which I thought was a great deal! Furthermore, being a Kdrama fan, I was immediately intrigued by the theme. However, what took me longer to find were food blogs describing their recent gastronomic experiences here. That made me skeptical whether we made the right choice. But well, a treat was still a treat, and I was determined to have a good time.
The Lobby Lounge, as the name suggests, lies right smack in the middle of the ground floor of Intercontinental Singapore, which makes it hard to miss. The afternoon tea session starts from 2pm to 5pm daily. Being typical Singaporeans, we arrived at the Lobby Lounge precisely at 2pm without lunch and were one of the few customers around.
We were served to a table with plush comfy sofa meant for 4 people. I really liked how the place eludes a sense of grandeur with its high ceiling, chandeliers, white porcelain tableware that stood out against the black marbled tables, and sofas that were generously spaced apart, ideal for a luxurious afternoon tea session. Shortly after we settled down, we were served with a beautiful three-tiered stand filled with appetising pastries.
As our reservation was made in a haste and we did not read the description carefully, we thought that that was all we had for our $78 high tea set. While I was busy snapping photos trying to immortalise this experience (with my sister on the verge of fainting from low sugar), the waitress presented us with yet another tiered box filled with gorgeous sweets, taking us by surprise! The sweets were engulfed in dry ice, giving off a mysterious aura fitting of the theme ‘Secret Garden’.
Lo and behold! This magnificent afternoon tea set looks fit for a princess, which was exactly how I felt for the rest of the afternoon.
The waitress proceeded to explain to us that these mouthful of delights were handcrafted by an award-winning Pastry Chef Ben Goh. The highlights were:
(1) Award-winning creation: Earl Grey chocolate mousse with Apricot compote and Sea Salt Chocolate Crumble (on the right)
(2) Raspberry-rose lemon pound cake (on the right)
(3) Smoked Duck with Osmanthus Jelly in a waffle shell
(4) Smoked Salmon Mousse on a Chrysanthemum Mantou
Guess what my favourite item in the whole set was?
Oops, perhaps my taste buds are just not equipped to handle complexity. I liked how the chef used Japanese Furikake (rice seasoning) on this otherwise simple egg sandwich, which was just enough to enrich the savour without over-powering the original taste. I would have voted for the scones (oh the strong buttery smell!) and the praline chocolate as well, but I think I should give some credit to the chef for his creativity in injecting floral elements into each pastries, either in the form of ingredients or as decorations, so that all the pastries were in line with the whimsical theme of “Secret Garden”. My sister’s favourite was the raspberry-rose lemon pound cake, which I call it the “toadstool”. Unfortunately (for me), the cake was layered with coconut flakes, thus it was automatically striked off from my list of favourites (sorry, it’s all personal preference).
Each guest was allowed 2 orders of tea or coffee from a selection of 20 odd choices. We ordered 4 different teas, namely the ‘The Intercontinental Heritage Tea‘, ‘Emperor’s White Garden Tea‘, ‘Lemon Bush‘ and ‘Silver Moon‘. Of which, I highly recommend the ‘Emperor’s White Garden Tea‘ for anyone who likes tea with floral smell! The mixture of rose and jasmine created a strong aromatic fragrance which complements the theme of the afternoon tea set.
At first glance, one would have thought that the set couldn’t have taken us a few mouths to finish. My sister and I ended up staying through the entire 3hrs of afternoon tea session because we were so full that we could not move! For those who remain doubtful whether the afternoon tea set is adequate to fill your tummy, you will be delighted to know that there is a ‘live’ station which serves unlimited servings of à la minute crêpes and ice cream. Just a warning though, the crepes are a tad too sweet with its caramel maple syrup, so I suggest eating it with vanilla ice-cream to tamper the sweetness. I know the sentence sounds bizarre and incoherent, but it’s true.
Part of the reason why we (or rather, I) insisted on staying through the afternoon was because we were accompanied by a flutist and his pianist playing live music just right before our eyes – talk about a luxurious afternoon tea session! The melodious soulful music created a soothing ambience in the Lobby Lounge appropriate for a girly chitchat session. For my sister and I, it almost lured us into a deep trance after the hearty meal.
Despite my initial reservations about the Lobby Lounge, my sister and I both enjoyed the experience far more than we expected. Even though more guests started arriving towards the evening, the lounge was big enough to accommodate all, so never once did we felt compelled to leave. If I had any qualms at all, it will be that the service standard can be improved further given that Intercontinental Singapore is a 5-star hotel. So will I still come back again? Yes! Where else can I find such quality high tea set in such a beautiful ambience complete with live music and still cost cheaper than those offered at other hotels? In fact, I was rather reluctant to share about this place as I wanted it to remain under-rated. But sharing is caring, and that’s the point of setting my blog. Since the high tea set is seasonal, I definitely look forward to sampling more of their creative themed high tea sets in the future!