In our continuing quest for the best gluten-free high tea in Auckland, my girls and I fetched up at the Stamford Hotel a couple of weeks ago. When we booked, we noted that we had one gluten-free person. We arrived a few minutes early on a freezing cold winter’s day and were seated in the afternoon tea area, which is a raised floor behind the lobby area.
Service was very efficient with our afternoon tea arriving before the last member of our party! On placing our tea order, we were a little disappointed that of their four black teas, two were unavailable, leaving a choice of English Breakfast or Earl Grey. They did have an excellent range of green and herbal teas.
The high teas looked great. The ones containing gluten had the normal suspects – scones, salmon bagels, sandwiches and a selection of cakes. Amazingly, the cakes were the same on my platter! My platter also had three sandwiches, some beef and chicken kebabs and some marscapone cream and jam. I asked whether I would be having a scone or not, and the waiter very patiently explained to me (in a slightly confused tone) that scones were made of flour, and flour contained gluten and that this was a gluten-free high tea. I asked why I had been given cream and jam (to put on the kebabs perhaps?) but this just received a very blank look and the waiter retreated.
The kebabs were delicious. The sandwiches weren’t too bad, although the bread was a little dry. The cakes were great, and I was very impressed with the idea of having the SAME cakes on both platters. Top marks for this part of the high tea.
The negatives? The lack of any attempt at a scone, and the response to my question about it. Yes, the kebabs were great, and there is an argument to be made for doing something really well rather than something else poorly. But it was high tea and I think that there is an expectation that there will be some scone type product. The low availability of teas was definitely a negative, and the tea cups were the small plain cups which you often see at conferences or large events. There was no ambiance to the environment or the dishes, aside from the very cool serving platters. The serving staff were extremely efficient. The high tea wasn’t bad, it was just a bit average.
My tasting panel and I gave the Stamford Hotel a solid 7 out of 10, slotting somewhere between the Kiosk at Cornwall Park on the low end and Nostalgia on the high end. I had higher expectations for the Stamford, I must admit. Here’s hoping Hectors, which we’re going to in a few months, will prove to be better.