Gaia High Tea: First Impressions
I don’t vouch for Gaia as the best Japanese restaurant in town. I mean it’s good but it’s more about the frills than the food, in my by-no-means static view. But I do believe the launch of the Gaia Lounge in the basement has brought a new, more dynamic energy to the place. With this launch came a momentous question for the management: How do we keep this place packed day in, day out? Gaia’s High Tea can help.
- Have the desserts, and just the desserts
- Get a fancy-ass cup of tea- it’s good
- Biscotti is second to none
I’ve only seen the basement at night prior to my High Tea experience. After-hours bring a cult following through the doors, and discretion seems key as people coo away over candlelit tables. I did not know that the loosely divided room had light fixtures installed onsite, before I walked in last week to a brightly but warmly lit gathering. Cool wood, slate, and metal contrast with this warmth to bring you an edgy, dare I say almost Zuma vibe? Don’t sue me.
Pink Pistachio, an all-around-desserts-place, on speed dial for most foodies, now collaborates with Gaia to give you an assortment of sweet and savory food that would awe your out-of-town guests and business partners during the off-peak hours of the afternoon. Gaia hosts a good high tea, and it’s not just because of the tea.
On the menu you’ll find traditional nibbles and teas that go hand-in-hand with British High Tea, and unconventional additions that fall in line with the Gaia fusion philosophy.
The teas are unlike any other you’ll find in the city, and perhaps the entire country; ranging from Amazonian Goji, to South African Rooibos, to a very British Earl Grey special, you’ll get an acute case of wanderlust by simply sifting through the menu. I’m not a tea guy myself, but this compilation deserves credit for curation and uniqueness. I did not get the chance to try the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, but I’d imagine it would taste like it sounds, strong, complex, and heady. White gloved waiters materialize behind you to silently top your cup up and I can’t help but think that this is the definition of bougie. Don’t get me wrong, I like the flair.
Gaia has two set menus for High Tea. There’s a slightly cheaper ‘standard’ option, rivaled by a more expensive ‘premium’ offering. But when you’re dishing out, you’re dishing out, and I can’t imagine many people ordering the standard fare in exchange for the more extravagant one.
The standard menu includes pastries like eclairs, the famous chocolate torte, and tarts, whereas the premium one adds macaroons and biscotti to the mix. There’s plain and raisin scones, and scones with clotted cream and jam, sandwiches with cucumber and chicken, and sandwiches with smoked salmon. ‘Savories’ include crispy Thai beef, teriyaki tofu, and chicken katsu- with the premium add-ons like beef canopies with truffle sauce and shogun kakiyage.
I think here’s where Gaia takes a backseat and Pink Pistachio takes the wheel. Gaia’s own kitchen adds no real value to the menu, relying on greasy, deep-fried items to appeal to the average Pakistani customer. The platter looked crowded, oily, and failed to tickle my fancy. This doesn’t sit well with me; if you’re appealing to a bougie crowd, see the food bit through properly! If Gaia had just let Pink Pistachio do its thing without much interference, I don’t think anyone would have missed out. Pink Pistachio takes the cake with handmade desserts, and the floral cutlery just works!
The cookies, macaroons, and eclairs are beautiful without trying too hard, complex without muddling too much up, and delicate without being flimsy. I was amazed at the execution of these desserts, and the layered plates that housed said desserts were a nice touch of class. Where Gaia failed to deliver, Pink Pistachio stepped up the game.
Overall it was a pleasant change of ambiance and a foolproof way for the restaurant to capitalize on its newly built lounge. I found the service to be prompt and warm, the arrangements to be nothing short of spectacular, and the desserts to be the unique selling point. The ‘savories,’ however, require a major face-lift. And before I say too much more, I think you should try it for yourself. Peace.