Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more
Some say that high tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town is among the best in the world, so when I found myself in that beautiful city, I couldn’t help but pay it a visit.
It was a beautifully sunny day in Cape Town, and our last in the city. After a week packed with activities, the Happy Gwailo and I decided to take it easy, so we headed to the Mount Nelson Hotel for high tea.
Somewhat misleadingly, high tea is served at 1.30pm at the Mount Nelson, making it more lunch than tea. However, they did have an amazing array of tea available. I kicked off the meal with a lovely pot of rooibos tea – when in South Africa, do as the South Africans do!
Next, a two-tier platter of savouries was brought to the table – cold on top and warm on the bottom. Of course there were classics like finger sandwiches filled with cucumber, roast beef, smoked salmon and egg salad. But I found the warm savouries to be more interesting. The mushroom empanada was crispy and delicious and the quiche and tart had a hint of Indian spices.
The star of the show, however, has to be the incredible dessert selection. A giant table laden with every kind of pastry and cake imaginable sits in the middle of the dining room. As I wander around the table, trying to make the impossible choice on which sweet treat to load my plate with, I am serenaded by the pianist behind the baby grand in the corner.
I am very restrained at the start, taking only four dainty morsels from the vast selection. The signature “melktert” or milk tart in front turns out to be a custard tart – delicious but not quite as life-changing as they made it sound. I am a little more heavy-handed in my second round, including a giant slab of chocolate cake that proves to be my undoing. The meal is rounded out by scones with all the trimmings.
By the time we finish, we are fit to burst and I feel the need to swear off sweets for at least one day. We head out into the grounds to try and walk off some of the sugar. The hotel is truly impressive in all its pink glory, especially considering that it is more than a hundred years old. To think that Rudyard Kipling and Winston Churchill would have dined in the same room!
So was it one of the best high teas in the world? Most definitely. The selection of teas is amazing and while the savouries are so-so, the range of desserts was mind blowing. The service was excellent as well, and the location and ambience second to none.
This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus.
Mount Nelson Hotel
76 Orange Street, Cape Town
+27 (0) 21 483 1000
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