Fully aware of my love of food, and particularly my adoration of chocolate, as my leaving present from AsiaSpa, the lovely girls gave me a voucher for afternoon tea at the Ritz-Carlton’s Chocolate Library. I’m sure you can imagine my excitement at receiving this, an excitement that was intensified when I had actually made the booking, months in advance, for tea a couple of Sundays ago.
I have been to Ozone, the bar at the top of the Ritz, a couple of times and had always been intrigued by the sound of The Chocolate Library. Just this once I will admit that I have been known to be a bit of a geek regarding my love of reading and of books in general, so the idea that this place was home to both chocolate and books, and perhaps even books about chocolate, certainly tickled my fancy.
Though not quite as high up as Ozone, The Chocolate Library is perched on the 103rd floor of the ICC, so if you choose to visit on a beautiful day rather than a nasty overcast day, the view of the skyline is spectacular. I unfortunately didn’t have this luxury as Typhoon Nalgae was still lingering nearby.
The set menu for afternoon tea includes coffee, tea or their signature hot chocolate. I couldn’t resist the latter but after a few sips I wished that I had. Richer than anything you have ever tasted before, this intensely chocolatey drink would be fine on its own, but knowing you have a whole feast of chocolate treats to get through, it is more than a little overwhelming and I couldn’t even finish it – something you can imagine does not happen often for me.
In place of the regular three-tiered plate on which afternoon tea is usually served, tea at The Chocolate Library is carried over to your table in a large box, opened to unveil what looks like a mini bookcase. Of course.
Moving upwards from the bottom of the bookcase, we started with the savoury treats: smoked salmon on mint bread, rosemary ham on curry bread and foie gras on chocolate bread. Whilst the salmon was pleasant, it wasn’t particularly special, as you couldn’t even taste the mint bread. The ham on curry bread however was delicious – a great contrast between the bitterness of the rosemary and the zing of the curry. The foie gras was too salty for my liking although the sweet chocolate bread offered some relief.
Onto the next level, the white chocolate berries shot did not appeal to me at all when I read it on the menu, as I am rather adverse to mixing fruit with chocolate (unless it is banana, I think fruit should be kept with fruit and chocolate kept with chocolate. Chocolate is too special on its own to be tainted by mixing it with fruit). However, I think I have found an exception to the rule as here the sickly sweetness of the white chocolate (my least favourite type of chocolate) was perfectly balanced with the sharpness of the berries to provide a rather pleasing little dish.
The chocolate framboise tart was terrible as it is not an exception to the rule. It started promisingly, but moving further into the centre, the delicious chocolate was ruined by the raspberry goo. But I will not judge those who do appreciate tainted chocolate.
I think the marble cheesecake was my favourite and needs no further description.
Moving onto the next and final level of the bookcase, our stomachs were starting to beg us not to fill them any more and our palates were starting to crave something a little less sweet. Ignoring them however, we took a bite of the chocolate orange confit macaroon. A perfect macaroon which could almost rival Chef Que of TBLS’ macaroon masterpieces…. until you hit the middle and encounter something not too dissimilar to the inside of a Jaffa Cake, perhaps my least favourite biscuit (cake?) in the world. In my opinion, combining chocolate with orange should be the eighth deadly sin.
The chocolate Madeleine was just as it should be – soft, simple and comforting.
I couldn’t handle more than a small spoonful of the white coffee and chocolate tart, not merely because of the strength of the coffee but also due to the overpowering sweetness of the chocolate. I definitely have a sweet tooth, but this took it just a little too far.
Finally, the chocolate mille-feuille, though by no means a mille-feuille as we know it, was a delightful end to this chocolate feast, although I wish I had attempted to eat it before my taste buds began to suffer from an overload of sugar. A layer of brownie under a layer of hazelnut mousse under a layer of chocolate mousse – wow.
Service is very good (something which can certainly not be said about Ozone) and afternoon tea for two will set you back $438, not an outrageous price for the amazing treats and incredible view.
I do have a few pieces of advice for you should you ever venture to The Chocolate Library for afternoon tea: go hungry, drink lots of water and take it very, very slowly, for this is an afternoon tea like no other.
The Chocolate Library
103/F International Commerce Centre
1 Austin Road West
Tel: +852 2263 2263
Date visited: Sunday 2nd October 2011