Set on a water-filled lobby and beside the hotel’s private marina, high tea at the Sofitel offers the experience of the French ‘art de vivre’ that is synonymous with the Sofitel name.
In between raindrops on an early spring afternoon High Tea Society had the pleasure of taking high tea at the Sofitel on Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour. Set on a water-filled lobby and beside the hotel’s private marina, high tea at the Sofitel offers the experience of the French ‘art de vivre’ that is synonymous with the Sofitel name.
Set beside a tranquil stone-bottomed pool fed by a cascading waterfall, high tea begins with a selection of premium loose-leaf tea or coffees. We chose the Fabulous Feijoa for something uniquely Kiwi and the more traditional Jasmine Princess. Both teas were delicately perfumed; the feijoa offering a distinct tang that paired nicely with the sweeter items on the menu. Accompanying this we had a lovely glass of Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut NV. Epernay served in flutes hand-painted with a delightful floral motif. Fresh and lively this French champagne was a great accompaniment to the first of the savoury items, a smoked salmon and cucumber blini with a zesty lemon crème fraiche.
Led by award-winning Executive Chef Nick Honeyman and Pastry Chef Richard Aboleda, recipient of the New Zealand Pastry Chef of the Year Award on more than one occasion, the culinary team at the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct pull out all the stops to deliver a fantastic high tea that lives up to the expectations of French hospitality in a magical Auckland setting. It is the patisserie that sets the Sofitel above the crowd; the buttery crust of the leek and mushroom quiche and the flaky decadence of the ham and gruyere croissant the stars of the savory tier.
Moving up a tier, the scones were slightly sweet and perfectly crumbly, served with a sweetened cream and jam, a nod to the English heritage of the high tea now enjoyed worldwide. The top tier, often the favourite, contains a selection of four sweet treats, each more intoxicating than the last. We began with a mango macaron filled with an intensely fruitful mango buttercream and a rich chocolate ganache. At first bite it seemed as though the chocolate might overpower the delicacy of the mango, but on second and third mouthfuls it was apparently that the two flavours were in perfect balance, conjuring up images of tropical beaches, a mere dream as the weather shifted from mild and sunny to heavy showers, so typical of a spring afternoon. The passionfruit mousse shooter echoed this tropical fantasy, but it was the hazelnut profiterole that won our hearts. A soft, fluffy pastry filled with a rich, but not overly sweet hazelnut ganache it was the perfect introduction to the decadent chocolate mud cake that was saved for last.
As the sun rippled off the lobby pool we reclined back in the opulent surroundings – which almost whisked us away to the court of Louis XVI in all its elegance. An imposing arrangement of lilies filled the lobby with beauty and a delightful fragrance, the traditional French Louis XVI-style chairs with floral upholstery completing the ambiance, a baby grand piano in the corner hinting at further luxury on occasion. A palette of blues and silvers reflects the waterfront location, a statue of a Maori guardian in the lobbyside pool firmly tying the space to its surroundings.
With a view over its private marina, high tea at the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion or to catch up with friends, preferably after a day shopping in the heart of the city, or after a relaxing morning at the on-site Spa. The Sofitel Auckland Viaduct offer high tea daily throughout the year with special events and menus to coincide with occasions such as Mother’s Day, Bastille Day and Melbourne Cup.