Many large cities throughout the world have a classy, wolrdclass hotel that serves high tea. In Buenos Aires, this place is the Hotel Alvear. Although high tea is not a common tradtion in Buenos Aires, a merienda with mate is. A merienda is basically a high tea, without the sandwhiches and scones. Sweets are served, the mate is passed around, and conversation is shared – it is a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
It is no surprise then, that restaurants serving an afternoon tea are not hard to find. However, if you are looking for the best, then the Alvear is the place to go (although one that is almost as good, and faaaar cheaper, can be found at Primafila). Of course, you pay the price – most recently, we were there for their high tea, and it cost $180 pesos per person.
The afternoon tea is served in the upstairs dining room, unless there is a special function going on. The upstairs dining room is quite something – classy, elegant, and very chic. Unfortunately, there was an event the day we were there, and the tea took place in one of the conference rooms below, a BIG downgrade from the dining room.
The food served is typical of any traditional high tea, English style. You are offered a selection of teas (earl grey, English breakfast, etc), and this if followed by a three-tiered tray with different finger foods. We were served both sandwiches de miga, and some sandwhiches in buns. There were also scones with cream and homemade jams. And finally, some small dainties.
The tea was excellent – we had earl grey, and it is the best earl grey I have had in Buenos Aires. It was a loose-leaf tea, a brand I did not recognize. The food was quite good, though nothing out of the ordinary, and I did expect something a little better. The scones and jams were probably the most noteworhy, although the sweets were also very good. Once finished the three-tiered tray of food, the dessert trolly passes by, from which you are allowed to select a dessert, which are mainly a selection of cakes. By this point, most people are totally stuffed, so you can order it to go. We ordered the forest cake and an apple crumble, both very very tasty.
Service was very professional, and quite good. However, the girl serving us only gave us 5 seconds to look at the dessert cart, before telling us to hurry up because it was the only cart and other guests were waiting. Ouch. That really bit into her tip, and Im sure it would have burned her manager’s ears. Nonetheless, it didn’t spoil the day, and all in all, we were quite happy with the event. It is certainly not something to do every weekend, but definitely worth doing at least once in Buenos Aires, just make sure it is served in the upstairs dining room.
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