Published January 2020
We arrived at the Cordis Auckland hotel in downtown Auckland on a Saturday afternoon, and took a seat in the stylish Lobby Lounge where Cordis serves its version of afternoon tea—”High Tea by Cordis.”
A very friendly server greeted us with the menus, and the day’s first dilemma was to choose from one of the most extensive tea selections we have ever seen. After leafing through several pages with different types of white tea, yellow tea, green tea, oolong tea, black tea, dark tea, herbal infusions, and iced tea, we decided to go for black tea and iced tea. It turned out that only the classic iced tea was available, despite the fact that the menu contained several varieties. Fortunately, the classic type, with its deliciously refreshing and not too sweet flavor, did not let us down.
Shortly after we had been served the tea, the amuse-bouche was placed on the table in front of us. This appetizer consisted of fermented orange, whipped ricotta, walnut butter, and radicchio salad. It tasted fine but lacked that little something extra.
However, the somewhat bland start was immediately forgotten when an elegant three-tier stand filled with temptations of all shapes and flavors was brought out. The sight was so inviting, we couldn’t wait to have a taste.
We started with the mustard panna cotta with beetroot, goat cheese, and smoked lamb. The combination of the salty smoked lamb and the sweet beets was perfectly balanced, but the texture was a little confusing for our palates.
The next mouthful had the intriguing name “carrot explosion,” and it certainly lived up to it. The carrot flavor really stood out but was more “interesting” than delectable. The lemon pie with smoked salmon and crème fraiche, on the other hand, was a winner for both of us.
From the soft chairs in the Lobby Lounge, we had a good view of the hotel lobby. Since the lounge is adjacent to the reception, the surroundings here could easily have felt busy. But thanks to a live performance from a harpist (!), the place had a wonderful, lively atmosphere. The harpist played the most beautiful tunes, ranging from classic melodies to the music of the Harry Potter films.
We sat back and enjoyed the music for a while before turning our attention back to the food. At first glance, the finger sandwiches on the middle tier of the stand lacked a little in presentation compared to the rest of the treats, but they nevertheless tasted very good. The cucumber sandwich with lemon verbena mayonnaise, the ham sandwich and the milk roll with eggs and watercress were all fresh and tasted delicious.
While we let the food digest a little, we were offered more drinks. Although we usually like to do afternoon tea by the book, we decided to “cheat” a bit, and ordered a cappuccino and a cup of dark hot chocolate. The coffee was more than satisfying, but the hot chocolate brought out the real superlatives. It was so rich and flavorful that sipping it felt like drinking directly from a chocolate fountain!
Our well-trained server brought out the warm scones with perfect timing, and we could indulge in two different types: one with sea salt and rosemary, and one with vanilla and buttermilk. Our favorite was the savory variant—a perfect companion to the rhubarb jam with a hint of ginger. When we expressed our enthusiasm for the scones to the server, we were immediately offered second helpings. We politely declined the kind offer as we still had a whole tier of desserts left to try.
The sweets turned out to be the weakest part of the menu. The carrot cake had a strange texture, which made us leave most of it uneaten. Magnum “ice cream popsicle” with mango and coconut and the black forest cube with cherries and white chocolate mousse were both OK, but not particularly memorable. Finally, the dessert called “Snix” was obviously made for Snickers lovers, but despite the combination of peanut butter, chocolate, and caramel, it unfortunately also failed to impress.
The Lobby Lounge at the Cordis Auckland hotel delivered a solid afternoon tea with its concept of “High Tea by Cordis.” We were particularly delighted by the beautiful harp music, which went perfectly hand in hand with the elegant surroundings, as well as the fantastic hot chocolate. The slightly uneven tastes and textures were not enough to significantly pull the overall good impression down. Drinking High Tea at Cordis Auckland is thus something we can happily recommend.
Practical information and tips:
- Cordis Auckland is located in the center of Auckland, New Zealand.
- High Tea by Cordis is served daily at the following times:
- Monday–Saturday: 11:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
- Sunday: 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m.
- The prices when we visited were as follows:
- Monday–Friday: 59 NZD (82 NZD including a glass of champagne) for adults and 38 NZD for children.
- On Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays: 69 NZD (92 NZD including a glass of champagne) for adults and 48 NZD for children.
- High Tea by Cordis can also be served in gluten and dairy-free versions. A vegan menu is also available (this must be pre-ordered at least 24 hours in advance).
- Bookings are essential. We recommend enquiring when the harpist will be present—the evocative music was one of the things we most appreciated during our visit.
- Do try the delightful dark hot chocolate!