Tuesday, 11 October 2016

High Tea in Amsterdam - The Gartine (Part I)

My husband and I have this tradition of having high tea on our wedding anniversary. We like high tea, and we have tried many places in Sydney. From our experience, most well-known high tea places are over-rated or not worth what you're playing for. We rate our high tea based on the quality of two things; tea and food! Having a nice view is pleasant, but nice view is not hard to come by when you're in Australia! Just have a picnic in your local National Park instead if that's what you're into.

In our opinion, The Tea Room in the QVB is still our favourite; it has the best scones, very nice and delicious selection of tea, beautiful setting and decent pricing. We highly recommend it. You do have to pay extra for the 'Tea for Connoisseurs' option, or you'll get average tea bags. At least you have the option for better tea, which a lot of other places just don't offer.

The places that offer 'groupons' are cheaper but nothing special; they all have generic Twining's tea bags and some more fancy places have T2 tea bags. Whoopty doo, like we don't already have too many T2 containers at home!

The worst place is probably Bygone Beauty at Leura with their not so traditional tea, mini 'not-cupcake' scones, overpriced menu and crappy crowded setting! The most overpriced would be the Hydro Majestic! Ok, it is probably the most beautiful and scenic tea room you'll ever find in Australia, but $65 for some less than average high tea just cannot be justified!

Anyway, there are just too many places that offer high tea these days in Sydney. Keep in mind, I'm not rating the tea houses for their service and what not, that's a whole different story. We have also been to Adore Tea in Canberra, they have a very extensive tea selection to satisfy every a tea junkie. I would say they have the best tea, but we have not tried their high tea. Their regular food is also very nice, so I think it'd be worth going back one day.

Ok, I've talked too much about Australian high tea, I know you've been waiting for the Dutch high tea experience, and you're finally here! :P Sorry, I'm such a troll!

So it was only the 2nd weekend since we arrived in the Netherlands, our only source of info for decision making was Google and the web sites of the places. I pretty much picked 2 places that looked really pretty from their website and had decent reviews on Google; one was the Gartine cafe and the other was The Duchess hotel, both located in central Amsterdam. The Duchess did not specifically mention high tea on their menu, so we went with Gartine and were pleasantly surprised.

So, first thing is that this is not traditional English high tea; so no scones. We ordered the 'High Tea Large' set, which consisted of 3 courses; a soup starter, a pastries and sandwiches main, and a sweets/cakes dessert, and a pot of tea of course.

The soup was a creamy cauliflower and potato soup with truffle oil. Yes, the soup photo is missing, because I conveniently forgot to charge the camera the night before, and the lovely staff let me charge it at their counter so I could capture the rest for you guys.

The main was quiches with ingredients from the garden (zucchini), sourdough sandwiches with aged Amsterdam cheese, onion and green chutney, and choux pastries filled with a smoked salmon cream.
The desserts were oatmeal and cranberry biscuits, vanilla macarons, and their selection of cakes of the day.
Cakes left to right: Amaretto cheesecake, lemon meringue, smooth chocolate cake and coconut yoghurt cake! 
The ingredients are supposed to be freshly picked from their garden, I'm not sure if I could actually taste the freshness, but they were more than delicious! So nice that Graham willingly ate the cauliflower and zucchini in the dishes! The place smelled so good whenever they prepare a dish, and I had my eyes on the cakes long before they came out. There was more than enough food for 2 and we doggie-bagged the left over cakes! I think the cakes are their specialty, they were fantastic! So rich in flavour but not overpowering in any aspect, novel combination and great texture. I'll go there again just for the cakes!

Ok, the tea selection was decent, they came in nice silk bags. They were nice but not the best we've had, and quality and quantify of food made up for that tiny downfall. It is definitely the most delicious high tea we have ever had! 

Now onto the setting, because I really liked how cute it looked from their website. The place was smaller than I expected but I guess that's traditional Amsterdam houses. It was clean and tasteful. The staff were very pleasant and were prompt to change the used dishes between courses. The plates were all traditional Delftware, but nothing matched, not even our knives and forks! Lol, it was very entertaining for us to play the matching game while we waited. 
A bucket of fresh oranges next to my chair under the counter?! Why not.
Very pretty floral wall feature and chandelier - felt like the only source of light in this place. Lol!
The front of the Cafe, looks just as cute on the outside. 
So our overall experience with Gartine was extremely positive! So the next time anyone comes and visits me, let's go have cake there! :D It's a small place, so seats are limited and booking for high tea is essential. 

This post is getting too long, so I'm putting the next leg of our adventure in the next post. 

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