Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea at The Langham Chicago
For those who celebrate, Happy New Year and 恭喜發財!
When we were visiting Chicago two weeks ago, The Langham Chicago was intuitive enough to serve Chinese New Year afternoon tea. The menu is generally inspired by Chinese cuisine while still maintaining the familiar format of tiers of food, served in separate courses, and the pots of very good tea of choice.
Starting our tea on a high note, we opted for glasses of excellent Perrier-Jouët Brut Champagne. Fine, distinctive thread of bubbles. Elegant, complex, crisp and balanced wine features fine, persistent mouthfeel as well as lingering flavors of fresh apples, lemons and toast. Not too soon, our choice of teas arrived. I had the namesake Wedgewood Original tea and my friend had the Ginger Black tea. Both were fine black teas. The Wedgewood was a delicately sweet black tea while the ginger tea has a solid amount of warm, spicy flavors from the ginger.
The fresh baked scones arrived neatly tucked in a heavy linen napkin folded into a basket. The plain scone was delicious. It’s simple but not many places are able to accomplish the perfect texture of flaky, moist and have a great crisp exterior. The almond scone has the same textures with a strong whiff of marzipan-like aromas, possibly from almond extract. The spreads of vanilla cream, orange marmalade, blueberry compote, and Devonshire cream are all made in house and they are great with the scones.
We individually had a plate of four savory items:
Miso Marinated Tofu, Shaved Red Cabbage, Shitake Mushrooms, Snow Peas, Sprouts
Ahi Tuna Tartar, Avocado, Yuzu Lemon, Sesame Seeds
Moo Shu Duck Roll, Confit Duck Leg, Hoisin Sauce, Pickled Cucumbers
Char Siu, Charred Baby Corn, Watercress, Pineapple, Fried Shrimp Chip
Of the four, we liked the char siu (Cantonese style roast barbecue pork) on a shrimp chip the most. The miso marinated tofu was an intriguing combination and quite tasty for a vegetarian option. The tuna tartar was technically a sashimi cut but still good, nevertheless. The duck roll was good but served a little too cool for my preferences.
The desserts were (unsurprisingly) fantastic since it’s by Executive Chef Scott Green and his team. Chef Green was named Dessert Professional 2016’s Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America. The four desserts on this course consisted:
Green Tea Macaron – Almond Shell, Sencha Ganache
Black Sesame Entremet – Black Sesame Sponge Cake, Banana Cream, Vanilla Mousse
Ginger Tea Cake, Orange Cremeux, Mandarin Gel
Exotic Tart – Roasted Pineapple Compote, Coconut Custard, Rice Tuile
While most of these desserts are familiar to me (and they are very good) but the one that amazed and amused me the most was the black sesame entremet. I never thought and had the combination of black sesame and bananas together before until I sank my fork into that cake and ate it. It’s delicious and I am astounded that I haven’t thought of the flavor combinations when it makes sense.
This afternoon tea experience was great. The room is beautiful, especially with the shiny, suspended decorations that make the room look futuristic. The food is very good. The teas and Champagne was delicious. The staff is very accommodating and cordial to us and it’s a plus to have a live pianist performing.
For more photos, please CLICK HERE for the complete set or see below:
The Pavilion at The Langham Chicago
330 N Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 923-9988