Afternoon tea at The Langham Hotels & Resorts means taking in the experience of over a hundred years of tradition. It harks back to Palm Court at The Langham London, where their English afternoon tea was first served in 1865 and has since become a hallmark embedded within the hotel’s numerous properties across the world.
The newly opened The Langham Jakarta in District 8, the first in Southeast Asia, brings in this afternoon tea tradition and culture with a modern twist through ALICE, a grand café set in the corner of the hotel’s lobby.
While it drew inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s classic tale, Alice is far from being a themed café; the novel’s jolly elements are instead shown through the cafe’s charming crockery with card symbols on them, which somehow fit with the rest of the establishment’s Art Deco glamour interiors—not forgetting the hotel’s signature pink rose laid down on every table.
Between the clinking of silverware and servers with sterling service, a well-dressed crowd of mom and daughter having quality time to businessmen indulging in afternoon break, Alice is probably what you would imagine of a proper afternoon tea setting. But brush aside that refined image and one would be more impressed with its servings of handcrafted confectionery and pastries that balance both tradition and modern influences.
The afternoon tea, which goes from 1.30 pm to 6 pm, usually starts with two types of scones, rose pistachio and the traditional English (the latter uses the original recipe from the London kitchen), served with homemade jams and marmalade. The tea set is also prepared, where one can choose between the classic Langham or the modern Alice collection, with options ranging from earl grey and the citrusy rooibos tea to green and jasmine tea blends.
The server then brings in the birdcage tiered tray to introduce the savoury and sweet delights developed by executive pastry chef, Serhat Mizrakli. It’s generally understood that you work your way up from the bottom of the tray, which is where the savoury bits are. There’s the smoked salmon vol au vent, a French appetiser that combines Norwegian oak smoked salmon, green apple and Japanese cucumber with a buttery puff pastry, and a hybrid take of the lobster doughnut, which mixes Batik lobster with mayonnaise and mustard to go with the fluffy bun.
Balance these flavours with the top and middle tier, from the raspberry tartlet with créme patissiere, made using vanilla beans and custard from Flores and fresh raspberry layered with sugar crust, to the sweet Turkish dessert of baklava, inspired by the executive chef’s mother’s recipe, where the layered pastry is filled with rose pudding filling and chopped nuts, then topped with pistachio and rose flakes.
Although there’s a known decorum in this tradition, Alice gives the impression that it relaxes with the etiquette, in turn making the guests more carefree in sampling the afternoon tea experience. It is after all a dining establishment where brunch and dinner are served. But for certain hours, Alice goes back to the hotel’s roots to celebrate a British tradition like this one, and that in itself is worth the experience.