Savouring a delightful afternoon tea experience

Gourmet Today visits Corinthia Hotel St George’s Bay to sample their famous afternoon tea — one of the great English traditions and a culinary treat enjoyed enthusiastically the world over

It was with no small degree of anticipation that we entered the Corinthia Hotel this weekend, eager to sample the delectable array of sandwiches, scones and cakes on offer, as well as that most important component: the tea. We were pleased to note that parking is free for customers presenting for afternoon tea, and we had no difficulty finding a space. The first thing that struck us upon entering the lobby was the pleasant ambience and friendly staff there to greet us, the décor clean and professional while comfortably inviting. Our table afforded an excellent vista of the trees, deckchairs and swimming pool outside, with further views extending across the vibrantly blue coast to St George’s Bay and the Sliema waterfront beyond.

We began our sitting with a tall glass of Prosecco, an optional extra on the menu but one well worth the small additional cost. Providing a refreshing opening to the occasion, this sweet yet moderately dry choice presented a welcome introduction to the palate, preparing us for the delicate mixture of savoury and sweet items yet to come.

Firstly, the presentation of the culinary items featured was both appropriate to the occasion and artfully arranged. Served on three tiers as tradition demands, each level consisted of a different part of the meal; the lower tier holding a range of sandwiches, the middle scones and cake and the upper tier a selection of luscious small items certifiably dangerous to anyone with a sweet tooth. While the menu features two choices of afternoon tea — the Classic and “Chocolate Lovers” varieties — we opted for the former. Despite being a deviation from tradition, the latter certainly offered intriguing options, but on this occasion the allure of orthodox scones simply proved too great. It is worth mentioning that the Corinthia was also able to accommodate a request for vegetarian sandwiches for one of the orders.

Served in the manner to which the tradition’s progenitor was reportedly partial to, the sandwiches arrived with crusts removed, in this instance cut into rectangular shapes and layered attractively on the plate and organised according to filling. Each item featured soft, though not overly spongy, white bread, with fillings including smoked salmon and sour cream, cucumber, caviar and dill Parma ham, pecorino cheese and rocket leaves with Salami Napoli, brie cheese and piccalilli. The ingredients were fresh, with no taste too strong as to overpower the succeeding choice. The smoked salmon was particularly enjoyable, sampled first to complement the Prosecco beforehand.

The scones, approached enthusiastically next as we proceeded upwards through the tiers, were, simply put, a delight. Demonstrating a crumbly yet firm texture replete with bursts of sweetness courtesy of the dried fruits within, the taste of these quintessentially British treats was enhanced superbly by the accompanying clotted cream (served, importantly, at the correct temperature) and berry jam. The fruit cake was pleasant, the taste sweet yet not overpoweringly so, and with a light, airy texture that dispelled any notion of being forced to resign at this point.

Finally, we arrived at the top tier, this last level offering a range of small sweet items that provided a perfect cadence to the overall experience. The selection was well considered, with clear attention paid to the aesthetic and range of complementing flavours, and offset charmingly by individual blackberries and cherries. Of particular note were the chocolate truffles, which acted well to balance the flavours found on the other tiers and in the other sweets.

Of course, no review of afternoon tea would be complete without discussing the tea itself, a choice on the part of the Corinthia which worked well — both on its own and alongside the various items discussed above. While not employing loose leaves, the tea was of excellent taste, imbued with a rich yet not overly broad profile, and a relatively low tannin content that avoided interfering with the other flavours present. A request for non-dairy milk was also accommodated in addition to the standard milk provided, a small yet appreciated detail.

In conclusion, we have no hesitation in recommending the Corinthia for afternoon tea — the selection of food and accompanying tea were highly enjoyable, and the staff were friendly and attentive throughout.

To find out more, visit the Corinthia website, or phone +356 2137 4114.