The JW Marriott Marquis has always been great at packaging up their restaurant offerings to keep themselves relevant. One of the recent additions to their repertoire is the afternoon tea at Prime68, billed the Tea Party on 68th, which takes place every Saturday from 2:30pm to 5pm at the venue of Dubai’s favourite steakhouse, in the tallest hotel in the world.
On this particular day it was a bit hazy, so the view was not quite as impressive as normal. Neither does this photo do it justice. But let me tell you – this is one cracking view. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Dubai Marina. Today you can see the wide expanses of the Arabian Gulf, the construction of the new canal, the construction attached to the St. Regis, the construction of the new Bulgari Hotel… (I mean this is Dubai, after all!)
Prime68 is actually the perfect venue for an afternoon tea. One might think, why didn’t they think of it sooner? Civilised surroundings, stunning view, great food, and designer tea. This is the holy grail of afternoon tea-dom.
Or coffee, as it were.
There was clearly a lot of thought put into the concept and design of this afternoon tea. The tables are decorated with a zen garden feel. There are carefully-arranged stones on the table, mini potted plants with chocolates lollipops hidden inside, and a planter tray with macarons, truffles and cookie crumb dirt. The menu is already displayed on the table when you arrive providing full details of what is to come, as well as what you can add on to make your afternoon even more jolly. (Tea cocktail or espresso martini, anyone?)
Here’s the planter close up – how cute are those mint leaf plants peeking out?
For AED 185 per person or AED 350 per couple, you get a selection of appetisers and sandwiches, mini roasts, and desserts from the cheesecake trolley and the mysterious chocolate river.
The first food to arrive was the duck rillettes with muscatel jelly. The rillettes came in individual jars with crackers alongside. The sweet muscatel jelly was the perfect balance to the smooth duck paste, which was delicious enough to eat spread on a cracker or straight from the spoon.
You can’t have an afternoon tea without mini sandwiches. From left to right are the mini BLTs on brioche with iceberg, heirloom tomatoes and cecina beef, the roast beef in a mini Yorkshire pudding, and the smoked salmon with Jim Beam cream and fennel shaving on a brioche bun. Each was slightly different in taste and texture with the crunchy, the soft and the spongy.
The next course was an open-faced, corn-fed chicken salad with avocado and grapes on a mini baguette.
Afternoon teas are normally carb overloads, but, of course, you couldn’t have an afternoon tea at a steakhouse without meat. For the main course, you get a selection of “miniature roasts”, a cast-iron pan of afternoon-tea-sized pieces of meat – USDA striploin, Wagyu tenderloin and Australian lamb chops – served with a selection of mustards and sauces.
This is my plate of petite food. Unlike when you have dinner at Prime68, you don’t get to choose your knife. But we were asked if we wanted a repeat of the meats. Yes, please!
When we finished with our mains, it was time for the cheesecake trolley. Out comes the most decadent-looking desserts – Oreo cheesecake, carrot and walnut cheesecake, red velvet cheesecake and plain cheesecake, plus a few non-cheesecakes.
It was too hard to choose, so we settled on three.
But seriously, this Oreo cheesecake deserves a close-up.
Now, on to the great mystery of the afternoon. What is the chocolate river, you ask? The chocolate river is this Rube Goldberg-ian contraption that they wheel to your table. Less like a river and more like a watermill, it spews a hot chocolate reminiscent of the thick Spanish chocolate a la taza. The waiter adeptly turns the mill, fills the mug, and serves it to you with a side of dippable goodies.
Though I would have loved some hot crunchy churros to dip into my hot chocolate – I settled on a marshmallow. And then I drank the rest of it.
The afternoon is almost over and Mr. S starts saying something about the football? But since this is afternoon tea after all, it would be remiss of me not to have tea. Especially when they are serving fancy Tchaba designer teas made from whole leaves, herbs and fruit in biodegradable corn leaf sachets, artisan-crafted and hand-stitched with natural cotton strings. (So the Tchaba website says!)
Verdict: The afternoon tea at Prime68 is a fun and different way to enjoy Dubai’s favourite steakhouse.
Note to self: Think of a reason to have another tea party.
JW Marriott Marquis
Tel: 04 414 3000
Chow for now!