One of the markers of a great restaurant is its ability to adjust to the dietary constraints of its patrons with seemingly little effort and without, as is unfortunately often the case, deviating from the level of sophistication reached by the listed menu dishes.
Kiran’s doesn’t need my commendation to be called a “great restaurant,” but I will nevertheless add my praise to its extensive history of well-deserved accolades for the amazing high tea I experienced on a recent weekend.
A dear friend from out of town was visiting, and we decided to continue our tradition of seeking out decadent high tea options. In the past, our travels together have given us the privilege of daintily sipping Earl Grey and nibbling on biscuits in such fancy-schmancy digs as the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong and the Waldorf-Astoria in Rome. In pursuit of continuing our bougie streak, I booked a reservation at Kiran’s, which serves afternoon tea at 2 p.m. every Friday and Saturday.
My friend is a pescetarian who's also lactose-intolerant but otherwise is an adventurous eater and skilled home cook. Her friend (me) eats like a goat and forgot to tell Kiran’s in advance about her dietary restrictions. Oops.
Although our server didn’t blink twice when we mentioned this issue, I had my doubts. High tea at Kiran’s is a multi-course affair that commences with your choice of a boldly brewed black tea or a milder masala chai (we both opted for the former). Next is an artful platter of savories; my (carnivorous) version included sandwiches of thinly sliced crisp cucumber on white bread, smoked salmon with a tangy, earthy lemon-caper cream cheese, slightly smoky melted swiss, and cherry mustard on toast, plus a truffled deviled egg, and a delightfully crispy baby samosa stuffed with mushroom and feta cheese.
With regards to execution and diversity in flavor, I couldn’t have been more satisfied, though my friend’s pescetarian version definitely inspired a bit of envy. She, too, received a samosa but sans feta and a smoked salmon sandwich (minus the cream cheese). In addition, she received a terrific small salad of multi-colored pickled beets and a lightly-fried potato patty, well-spiced with cumin and garlic. The only misstep in the construction of her plate was the inclusion of some smoked meat on one open-faced sandwich, but this oversight was easily forgivable in light of the other wonderful substitutions.
Following this round of snacks, we each received a still-hot cranberry-orange scone, whose fragrant citrus and berry notes were wonderfully complemented by sides of jam and (for me) clotted cream. If tea had finished on that sweet coda, we would have been more than satisfied. However, our server then dropped another sugar bomb: “Feel free, ladies,” he remarked casually as he cleared our plates, “to help yourself at your leisure to the dessert buffet.” Buffet? The menu listed “dessert and petit fours” as the final course, not the all-you-can-eat extravaganza of dainties we encountered upon adjoining to a small room off of the larger main dining area.
Well, there’s nothing like a help-yourself spread of sweets to cause this food writer to shed all pretenses of refined austerity and load up her plate.
I left Kiran’s very full, obviously, but also so appreciative of their its flexibility, which prevented a total #hostessfail by enabling my out-of-town guest a fashionable high tea comparable, if not slightly more special, than mine.