Thursday 2 January 2014

Lanvin ♥ Sevva Afternoon Tea @ Sevva

Happy 2014 everyone! :D As one of my new year resolutions is writing more on this blog, I think it'd be great to start this year with a brand new blog entry. :) I know I have promised to write about my tea experience in the UK, but after having tea at Sevva a few days earlier, I really can't wait to share my juicy story about it! 

The story began in mid-December, when we Evil Girls planned to celebrate Christmas with one of the hottest tea sets in town - Lanvin ♥ Sevva Afternoon Tea. Mindful of Sevva's no-reservation policy for afternoon tea and Kong Girls' obsession with branded tea sets, we decided to arrive at Sevva 45 minutes before tea time (3:00pm) to queue for a table. 

To our astonishment, a long line was already formed by 2:05pm on the day! :0 We could not get a table and had to move to Cafe Causette for tea in the end. While the afternoon with EGs was as enjoyable as always, I had difficulty letting go of our failure. I guess I was just mad at myself for not arriving at Sevva early enough! :( 

At the end of the day, I resolved to revisit Sevva 2 weeks later for Lanvin afternoon tea. I told myself that I ought to make it, no matter what it might take! It sounded absolutely crazy, but even crazier were Hellish and his friend FK, who were willing to do that with me!!! :0 I wouldn't be surprised if we were caught and sent to Castle Peak Hospital, cos we were indeed nothing but insane!

So here you go, a chronicle of our epic *Lanvin afternoon tea adventure*

[14/12 night] Fixed the date and time of our operation: 28/12 1:45pm. No pain, no gain.  

[27/12 night] Studied reviews of Lanvin afternoon tea on Openrice and prepared myself psychologically for rude treatment by Sevva staff. I had been a victim myself before, but it just wouldn't hurt to be better prepared for the abuse that was bound to happen. 

[28/12 12:00pm] Called Sevva. Was told that queuing time for Lanvin afternoon tea formally began at 2:15pm (no wonder there were already so many people by 2:05pm last time). Decided that meeting at 1:45pm would be safe. 

[1:30pm] Arrived earlier than planned at Prince Building. There was already a neat queue for afternoon tea in the lift lobby! :0 Understood it was not the official queue but joined it anyway. We were like the 3rd party in the queue. 

[2:00pm] Lift lobby chock-full of people. Security guards of Prince Building and Sevva staff tried to arrange the queue to alleviate the congestion. 

[2:12pm] The girls queuing in front of us seemed to think it's time and entered the lift. Although we were certain that it was too early, we did not know what to do other than following them. :0

[2:13pm] Lift arrived at 25/F Sevva. A stone-faced hostess stood right outside the lift and blocked our way. With a watch in her hand, she mercilessly announced that it was not yet 2:15pm and we should go back to the lift lobby first. 

[2:14-2:15pm] Lift carried the bunch of aggrieved people back to lift lobby. I was calm, though. Conclusion: psychological preparation works. 

[2:15pm] Lift stopped at G/F. "Sevva" and "Door Close" buttons were pressed as soon as the lift door opened.

[2:16pm] Lift stopped unexpectedly at 2/F. Panic swept over everyone as queuing time had started. A guy entered the lift.

[A few seconds to 2:17pm] Lift stopped at 3/F. Panic intensified. A woman entered. 

[2:17pm] As the lift was racing towards 25/F, it became apparent that the guy and the woman were also heading for Sevva. They had jumped the queue by squeezing themselves into the lift from other floors! :0 Resentment filled the lift while the free riders tried to pretend that they didn't sense the murderous stares.

[2:18pm] Lift finally arrived at 25/F. Everyone made a beeline for the freshly formed queue just outside Sevva - yes, some people had already reached Sevva as we wasted time on our lift journey. We successfully got into the new queue before the free riders did. I felt relieved as I was certain that FK would kill them brutally if they joined the queue more quickly than we did.

[2:23pm] Table assignment begun by stone-faced hostess. We secured a table!

[2:28pm] Queue was cut. I reckoned that only half of the people who queued in the lift lobby were given a table in the end. :( 

[3:03pm] WE WERE SEATED AT LAST! But I was too exhausted, both mentally and physically, to feel happy...

It's the first time I got seated in the indoor lounge area. We saw groups of people being escorted to the adjacent dining area even after the queue for afternoon tea had long gone. Then we had an epiphany: Sevva reserves tables for their VIPs; only mortals like us have to battle for tables. Indeed, the supply of tables for VIPs was far greater than the demand - the dining area was only half-full even at the busiest time. I felt sorry, if not angry, for those who were turned away by Sevva after queuing for so long. 

There were 3 of us but there were only 2 sets of cutlery on the table. The waiter who brought us to the table was completely oblivious to that until we asked for one more set. Well, THIS IS SEVVA

As each Lanvin tea set was designed for 2 persons, we ordered 1 tea set and a mini burger platter to share. I had a pot of Petal Tea by Penelope Sach, and it turned out be the first thing that went right at Sevva that day. It was a beautiful blend of rose petals, lemongrass, and other organic herbs. It had a calming herbal scent, which was what I needed after the straining queuing process. 

I had seen pictures of the Lanvin tea set beforehand, but still I was struck by its lovely presentation when it arrived before my eyes. The eye-catching pop colours matched nicely to the charming illustrations by Lanvin's artistic director Alber Elbaz, which could be found all over the special placemat and afternoon tea menu.

1st tier (clockwise from right): snowflakes coconut chiffon sponge, vanilla & cocoa macaroon with French vanilla crème, strawberry & pistachio macaroon with chocolate crème

View of 1st tier from another angle. The Santa decoration was so adorable!

2nd tier (clockwise from top): signature minced chicken sandwich, petite finger rolls of French ham & brie cheese, foie gras mousse & onion marmalade on savoury waffle, truffle scrambled eggs on toasted Poilâne, baby potato stuffed with smoked salmon, eggs & crème fraîche, ratatouille on cucumber

3rd tier (clockwise from bottom): pineapple crème gâteau; raspberry, rose petal jam & crème anglaise éclair; chocolate coated éclair with candy sprinkles; banana & strawberry crème; ♥ candy lollipop; Mont Blanc coupe; flower power espresso cheesecake

A better view of the Mont Blanc coupe and flower power espresso cheesecake. See the pic below for a full view of the ♥ candy lollipop!

We were reluctant to admit it, but... well, the food was, ahem, really good. I could not name a top pick because I had several favourites! The pineapple crème gâteau was light as a dream, the chicken sandwich juicy, the foie gras mousse lush and savoury. Even the espresso cheesecake, which is sloppily made in most restaurants, was prepared with care. Unlike those heavy cheesecakes that can become really icky in your mouth, it was so soft and creamy that it made me see cheesecakes in a new light. The only weakness, if I must name one, was that the macaron shells were too hard. But we were completely distracted from the problem because the macarons were generously loaded with luscious chocolate/vanilla crème... who cared about the shells? :9

A pretty gift card was given to guests per order of tea set. It could be exchanged for one special gift at the nearby Lanvin store. The guys were not interested in the gift at all so we did not have the problem of gift allocation. But what if 2 girls have the tea set together and both want the gift? Wouldn't that make the tea experience end on a sour note?

But my worry was unwarranted. Cos the gift was just an ugly Hello Kitty Lanvin mirror that I doubt anyone would be interested in. I definitely like the paper bag with Alber Elbaz's cute sketches more lor...

If gifts are supposed to make guests happy and promote a brand's image, Lanvin has failed utterly in this respect. I'd rather they offered no gift rather than giving people such a hea gift. Perhaps the other gift option, a Lanvin USB storage drive, was more attractive... it probably was because it was no longer available by the time we got to the shop. 

Ambience: A-

Service: U (U= unclassified. Does what they are doing, e.g. making their customers stand for more than an hour and being totally indifferent, rejecting potential customers when tables are actually available, etc., really qualify as SERVICE!?? In fact, there can only be one reason for Sevva not to take reservation for afternoon tea: to create in the lift lobby a super long queue, which visualizes their popularity and serves as their very best living advertisement! As I have remarked elsewhere, when a restaurant uses its customers as a publicity means, it's the customers who are actually providing SERVICE! How very shameless of Sevva to have charged 10% of our bill for service... I should have dialled 999 to report a case of robbery...)

Food: A- (food was fantastic, but still it's hard to justify the hefty price tag!)

Overall remarks: I have come up with the perfect slogan for Sevva: "Heavenly Food in Hell".  Being the antithesis of customer-centred business, they expect you to follow their rules if you want to play their game. Not happy? They can't care less. If you are really, really interested in giving Sevva a try, you may wish to read this post at least 5 times to enhance your mental toughness beforehand... but I will not be responsible for your post-traumatic stress symptoms after the visit. 

Special thanks to Hellish and FK: this tea adventure would not be possible without you!
FK: It's so nice of you to think about me when you read about the Lanvin afternoon tea! You are wonderful :)
Hellish: You are the most wonderful, of course! :P

Sevva (website)
25/F, Prince's Building, 10 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong
Afternoon tea: 2:30 - 6:00pm (Mon - Fri), 3:00-6:00pm (Sat)
* Lanvin ♥ Sevva Afternoon Tea was priced at $680 for 2 persons and available in December 2013 only.