Around a year ago, I “enjoyed” an afternoon tea at The Shard’s Aqua restaurant which was memorable for all the wrong reasons. This December I ventured back, with the same friend, to find out whether we would fare any better at Shangri-La’s TĪNG.
Located on Level 35 of one of the world’s most iconic buildings, TĪNG – which means “living room” – possesses stunning, 360-degree views which encompass the Thames, Tower Bridge, Greenwich, Canary Wharf and the counties of Kent, Surrey and Sussex. Unsurprisingly, we spent a fair amount of our time there gazing out of those 360-degree windows.
Back to our arrival, and we were greeted with a warmth that would put most restaurants to shame and shown to our table and (very comfy) armchairs. Settling in, we observed that, whilst the lounge was full, there was a palpable peacefulness: not for TĪNG the “Cram as many people in until you reach breaking point” mentality that afflicts Aqua Shard. Here, we were able to relax, peruse our menus – and hold a conversation.
TĪNG offers an interesting selection of loose leaf teas, including a variety of Shangri-La signature teas. Being a white tea lover, I opted for the White Tea Snow Buds, while Lynda went down a more traditional route, choosing the Signature Afternoon Blend (oolong & black tea). Just at that moment, an enticing appetiser arrived: the Atlantic Prawn ‘Cocktail’. Zingy and delectable, it validated my earlier decision to skip lunch.
What followed was a feast both for the eyes and for the senses. The finger sandwiches were a delight; as a non-meat-eater I revelled in the variety of interesting vegetarian options that were brought to our table, as well as the delicious fish sandwiches.
The sandwiches were just the beginning of our feast, though, as a plate of piping hot scones soon arrived. Fluffy, light and most definitely home-made, these beauties confirmed our suspicion that afternoon tea at TĪNG should be taken very seriously indeed. We revelled in their fluffy gorgeousness, loading them with Devonshire clotted cream and English strawberry jam: who cares about calories when Christmas is just around the corner?
The pièce de résistance of our afternoon tea was, undoubtedly, the cakes. As I’ve said in previous posts, my tastes have become more savoury as I’ve grown older, and these days I tuck into sandwiches with far more gusto than any sweeter concoctions. However, just look at the festive creations below. Who could resist this Christmassy assault upon the eyes?
Having shamelessly stuffed ourselves with sandwiches and scones (“It’s been a hectic week”), Lynda and I were now faced with the responsibility of consuming a Mulled Wine Pear Compote, a Mint Chocolate Ganache, a Coffee Bavarois and a Passion Fruit & Cardamom Mousse. Given that these had been preceded by mince pies and fruit cake, this was quite a challenge – but we heroically did our duty, returning empty plates to the kitchen.
Not a single element of this afternoon tea experience could be faulted. Every morsel of food was delicious – and together with the incredibly friendly service, elegant Christmas decorations and unmatchable views, this was a dining experience of the highest order – and one that I hope to repeat soon.
P.S. Should you still be in any doubt as just how well TĪNG looks after its guests, note this: the toilet seats in the ladies’ cloakroom are heated.
I rest my case.