October 2016 update: The Jozi Four Seasons has stopped offering afternoon tea. I’m outraged!
Joburgers love high tea. I know this because the last high tea post I wrote, High Tea in Jozi, is one of my most popular blog posts of all time.
I wrote that post back in October 2013, when the legendary Westcliff Hotel was closed for renovations. Up until that point the Westcliff had been the go-to high tea venue for Joburg’s ladies who lunch, and I figured my readers would appreciate a post about some of the other high tea options around the city. I figured right.
I never had the opportunity to have high tea at the old Westcliff before it closed in 2013. (I tried several times during the first few years I lived here but it was always booked when I wanted it.) So I waited eagerly for the hotel to reopen, which it did last summer as the glorious Four Seasons Hotel the Westcliff. (I stayed at the hotel several months ago and wrote a blog post about it.) However, the new Four Seasons did not begin offering high tea right away. According to the PR folks I spoke to, the hospitality team wanted to make sure that their new restaurants were firmly established and into a routine before re-introducing this wildly popular tradition to the hotel.
But now, that day has come. The Four Seasons Westcliff has officially re-introduced hight tea and I got to try it out a couple of weeks ago.
I’ll keep this short and sweet. (Pardon the pun.)
The Four Seasons high tea is served at the hotel’s most high-end restaurant, the View, which true to its name offers a spectacular view of Joburg. Unfortunately it was raining on the day I went so I don’t have a spectacular view photo, but trust me on this.
The Four Seasons high tea is currently served only during the week: Monday through Thursday from 2:30-5:00 p.m.
The menu includes tea and a bite-sized combination of sweet and savory creations for R395 per person. Guest have a choice of “The Savoury Stand”, which has six savory items and three sweet items per person, or “The Sweet Stand”, which has six sweet items and three savory items per person. The food is served on the traditional three-tiered high tea stands, with a modern twist.
I love exotic tea and the Four Seasons menu offers a great selection from TWG. I tried the “African Ball” blue tea, which is herbal and apparently falls somewhere in between black and green tea. I’d never had it before and found it delicious without any sugar or milk.
Four Seasons describes the View’s cuisine as avant-garde and the high tea menu definitely skews in that direction, with various mousses and zests and fancy macarons and caramelized things. My table had a mix of all the savory and sweet items; there were a few scones and traditional cucumber sandwiches, as well as concoctions you wouldn’t expect on a high tea tray, like cauliflower mousseline and fried prawns. I tried everything and found a couple of truly delicious items, many very good ones, and one or two that I could take or leave.
This is by far the best location in Joburg for high tea (or any meal, for that matter), the service is great, and the price is comparable to other high-end teas around the city. I loved the exotic tea selection and the different combinations of savory and sweet, and there were a couple of dishes in each category that really stood out.
My only complaint is that I would have liked fewer macarons and mousses and more scones and sandwiches. In other words, less fancy avant-garde stuff and more traditional high tea stuff. But that’s just me — I’m a high-tea purist.
Space and time are limited at the Four Seasons high tea, so if you want to go soon I recommend booking ASAP. Book online at www.viewrestaurant.co.za.
My high tea was provided courtesy of the Four Seasons Hotel the Westcliff. Opinions expressed are my own.