Cuppa Comfort

Cuppa Comfort

Leopold’s of London at the beach, JBR, stirs up a heady cocktail of tea drinking-meets-gourmet food

By Janice Rodrigues (sub-editor/ Reporter)

Published: Fri 17 Apr 2015, 1:53 PM

Last updated: Fri 26 Jun 2015, 12:26 AM

Having moved to the UAE a year ago, I immediately made it a point to track down and haunt any restaurant or café that promised to brew up that special cuppa. And while a variety of places left me well-above satisfied, Leopold’s of London managed to stand out from the ever-growing crowd of café franchises, and the reason is quite simple. It doesn’t just hand you a beve-rage, personalised to the T (pun intended): instead, it makes tea drinking a whole new experience.

My dining companion and I checked in at 8pm on a weekday, and were greeted by a series of tempting-looking baked treats at the front counter. The interiors are grunge meets modern, with wooden flooring and black brick walls seamlessly merging with a sleek black staircase. The walls are decked with large frames giving out information about beverages, (should you want to catch up on your tea trivia!) and the overall effect is more than comforting. We chose to sit on the first floor terrace, and while the view isn’t astounding, the muted music coming from indoors and the dim lighting made it a great place for conversations — and a good, hot beverage!

This is where Leopold’s of London stands tall: upon hearing that we were confused about the choices on offer, we were whisked ind-oor to meet Archie Mendoza — or as he is popularly called, the Tea Doctor, who introduced — us to a counter stocked with 275 varieties of tea! Dressed in a lab coat, he then went on to enthusiastically explain the different types of tea (there’s black, green, yellow, white, Oolong, red, and even blue!) and let us have a whiff of the tea powder in order to help us pick out our orders. If coffee if your beverage of choice — fear not, Leopold’s also has what they call a Coffee Lab, where they grind their own coffee beans, to create a unique blend.

After sniffing away at the potpourri of tea powders, we finally opted for the Elderflower Cocktail, and we were pleasantly surprised to see our order arrive on an elaborate tea set, complete with a teapot, strainer, and (lest we let our tea powder soak too long) a set of hourglasses. As my dining partner pointed out, we weren’t just drinking our tea, we played a part in its making as well.

The drink was fruity and light, but I found myself craving something a bit stronger, and went on to order the Rooibos Chai. Stemming from South Africa, one could get the subtle flavour of spices (almost reminiscent to that of masala chai), and it went well with milk too. Quite perfect.

Having satisfied our tea cravings, we turned to the mains. I went for the Harrisa Grilled Chicken — succulent chicken served on a bed of couscous, and complemented by a burst of flavour from pomegranate seeds. My vegetarian dining companion, on the other hand, opted for a the Capricciosa Pizza, minus the turkey ham, and while it was thin crusted and warm, there was nothing quite spectacular about it. Vegetarians may want to take note that their options may be quite limited — we found only one veg entry in the appetiser and mains each, while the pizza had to be modified (although the attentive staff were happy to help).

Leopold’s has quite the variety of incredible-looking options for desserts, but after a quick scan of the menu, the Chocolate Lava Pudding won out. It took an additional 20 minutes to arrive, but was well worth the wait — served with hazelnut mousse, vanilla ice cream, toffee sauce and strawberries, the pudding disappeared rather quickly.

Reluctant to leave the comfort of the restaurant, my companion suggested one more cup of tea, and the Tea Doctor and I were only too happy to agree.

After serving us Emerald Green (a decaf tea), the Tea Doctor retreated, leaving us to a soothing cuppa and quiet conversation. There’s no better way to end an evening. 


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