Bar Dandolo – Hotel Danieli
Riva degli Schiavoni Castello 4196, 30122
Tel: +39 041 522 6480
The Dandolo English Afternoon Tea €42* (VAT included)
Served between 15:00 – 18:00
Many moons ago, a cinematic mantelpiece was born. Staring Dudley Moore, Byran Brown, Penelope Wilton and a host of other stars featured just long enough to humiliate themselves, the movie was, of course, Blame It On The Bellboy. No? Well, you weren’t missing much. However, as a child I remember having this inflicted on me along with a host of other atrocities my mother recorded off terrestial television onto a VHS cassette (Rhinestone; Staying Alive; Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot among the other monstrosities). What set this movie apart was its setting, and no amount of farce or forced slapstick shenanigans could taint the beauty of the Venice it depicted. In fact, this forgettable waste of celluloid might have been the trigger to my lifelong fascination with the city. What it also did was give me a specific landmark to head for. That was the Hotel Danieli, renamed Gabriella in the movie for reasons I don’t quite understand (maybe the Danieli didn’t want its name degraded by association with the film, though as its distinct interiors feature throughout we’ll put it down to tax and move on).
So, with the movie and the hotel forever imprinted on my frontal lobe, I set off to loll in its lounges, snuggle on its sofas and snaffle all of its scones. I chose well. Preparing for the kick off of carnival season the lobby is festooned with brightly coloured feathers, ornamental parrots and Venetian masks. I head for Bar Dandolo, where I had previously spent a pleasant two hours drinking green tea, eating Venetian biscuits and reading Jan Morris’s ‘Venice’ – the single greatest book about the city I have ever read – whilst surreptitiously charging various pieces of electrical equipment at a conveniently located socket. Afternoon tea is served between 15:00 – 18:00 daily without reservations being required in advance, and I think it is safe to say that I wasn’t expecting the carnival of colour and flavours that was laid before me.
The tea itself is Dammann Frères tisane chamomile which is again served with a large plate of complimentary Venetian biscuits and chocolates. On their own these are more than one person can comfortably handle in one sitting, a fact that the waiting staff seem to be aware of, as they were more than happy to pack these into a carton for me to take home (three days later I was still nibbling away on them as I drank my nightly cup of tea back in my hotel room).
Now, for the food. It seems to have been designed with two people in mind and is an absolute feast for the eyes and the tastebuds. I was flying solo on this occasion, though I knew that half of the goodies would be making their way home with me to share with my travelling companion later in the evening. However, the joy of each plate being laid out on the table as though I was a 18th century queen dining before her courtiers filled me with childlike excitement.
Meanwhile, the scones – looking rather like the tops of muffins that have been removed from their stumps – are warm, covered in a mountain of icing suger and served with four varieties of perserves: peach, strawberry, apricot and acacia honey, the latter of which was used to sweeten the many cups of chamomile I sipped when not snapping pictures of the tea from every conceivable angle.
Then comes the desserts. Positioned around a glass of the thickest, richest whipping cream imaginable, I am presented with a charming collection of macaroons, custard and chocolate profiteroles and delectable mini fruit tarts, all set out so strikingly that I found myself reluctant to eat them for fear of disturbing the beauty of the design. This is a tea of both exquisite style and great substance, and was truly one of the highlights of the entire trip.
Verdict: Bellissimo! 5/5 teacups
*Prices correct as of the 15.2.19
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