When it comes to Vegas, some people go for booze, partying, pool lounging, gambling, shows – generally hedonistic living. Me? I prefer a nice tea, and I found one at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
To get to the hotel entrance off the strip, you have to take the elevators down from street level to get into the property, then you take the elevators to the 23rd floor. (Sidenote: There’s a lush velvet bench in the elevator!). The elevator takes you to a quiet and serene lobby – the perfect setting for English tea.
We sat down at a beautifully adorned table with beautiful china.
When we made our online reservation, we were instructed to be at the tea room at noon since there were only three seatings on Saturday. This was overkill because there were clearly open tables, but it may be that there’s not a lot of demand for hot tea in July.
The best part of this hotel is the view, which is why we decided to have tea there in the first place. My research said that its the best spot on the strip for instagram-worthy shots. Check out our instagram feed for more.
Jingle, our server, brought us our teas, which she could distinguish just by their aromas. We chose four different varieties: Mandarin Orange blend; Life through Water; Monkey Picked Oolong; and Golden Assam. My favorite was Life through Water, which was peppermint-flavored. My sister’s favorite was the Monkey-Picked Oolong, which was sweet and bright with hints of vanilla.
After the teas come da food! (See how proper I am? Get in my belly!) I always think tea cakes aren’t going to be satisfying but every time I wind up stuffed by the end. (Could also be the giant pot of hot water I’ve drunk along the way.)
We had the “Classic English Afternoon Tea,” which included:
Smoked salmon and tartar cream on a homemade biroche bun
Curry chicken, trumpet mushroom and Asian pear on a sesame cone
Jumbo lump crab “remoulade,” mango and cream cheese
Black forest ham and brie lollipop
Signature Scones with imported Devonshire clotted cream and Chef Philippe’s house made marmalade’s and jams
Chef’s selection of assorted tea pastries
The Signature Scones were the best. I’m a sucker for pastry. Even our dad liked them and asked for more of the Devonshire clotted cream. They were still warm when served (I never understand why any fine establishment wouldn’t serve scones and bread warm. Cold bread makes me angry).
The scones were the highlight. The smoked salmon was fine, nothing terribly exciting there, the crab was decent, and the black forest ham lollipop was a thumbs down. It was like something my mom and I made in the third grade – roll up ham with cream cheese and put a stick in it. That was basically it.
The curry chicken ice cream cone was. . . different. The curry was strong, but tempered by the sweetness of the Asian pear. Not my favorite combination, but not bad. I do like anything an ice cream cone. Never had chicken in an ice cream cone (frankly never thought I’d put “chicken” and “ice cream cone” in the same sentence), but can’t say I minded it.
The assorted tea pastries were my second favorite after the scones. The purple pieces below were cheesecakes, complete with white chocolate garnish and graham cracker crust! I don’t think the purple-ness added any flavor – they weren’t blueberry flavored or anything, but were pretty.
The things with the gold balls on top were strawberry shortcakes, in layered cakes with strawberry jam on top. The gold balls were edible sugar (I hope ). The brown confection was a cream puff on the bottom, macaron on top, and a crunchy chocolate caramel corn on top. This was the crowd favorite. The final tea pastry was a lemon coconut tarte, citrusy with a rich nutty cream. Mandarin does tea pastries right.
In all, this was a rejuvenating respite in the midst of a frenetic city. There’s nothing wrong and many things right with tea in Vegas in July.