I wouldn’t know fashion if it slapped me across the face.. But I do know and love my food. On Sunday afternoon I found myself amongst the labels district in Ginza – the likes of Chanel, Coach, Cartier, and Louis Vuitton. This month’s afternoon tea was at Bvlgari. Ha, and you thought they only sold bags (or watches, or whatever it is that they sell)! This particular afternoon tea venue warranted in taking the SLR camera out for the day, so enjoy the glossy HD pics. My first preference for this month’s afternoon was at a hotel (they name of which will remain undisclosed at this point in time), but, alas, they were all booked out when I tried booking about two weeks ago. So back to the spreadsheet to find an alternative venue. I decided on Bvlgari. In addition to their fashion label, they own hotel, resorts and dining establishments around the world. They have a few different restaurants around Tokyo. I got confused and had originally made reservations for afternoon tea at the Bvlgari café in Omotesando. I realised that wasn’t what I wanted. And what I wanted was at Bvlgari il Bar in Ginza, so I asked to change my reservation. The afternoon tea at Bvlgari is at il Bar in Ginza (and not the café in Omotesando – counterintuitive, I know), so that’s where you’ll need to go. So I asked to switch my reservation venue. Now, il Bar does not take reservations, but they kindly let me do so on this occasion because I technically had an existing reservation. Bvlgari service – impressive. And it got better. On the main fashion label road in Ginza just down on the next corner from the Ginza Apple Store, you’ll find Bvlgari on the corner. Turn down the side street and there’s a separate entrance to gain access to the Bvlgari restaurant and Bar. We made our way to level 10 where you’ll find the Bar. Greeting service was excellent. And we were ushered to our (presumably Italian-leather) seats.
I had been really looking forward to the Afternoon Tea at Bvlgari. I had seen pictures and I was suitably impressed. The drawcard here is the presentation and gourmet food – Italian influenced. My favourite cuisine. The Afternoon Tea here isn’t served on three tiers. It’s served in little boxes. Way cool! Our reservation was for 2pm, so our little posse sat down to check out the menu,. We all got a bit worried because afternoon tea wasn’t on the menu! Oh no, had I mistaken the venue again? Should we have gone to the cafe in Omotesando? Was I at the wrong Bvlgari place? The only thing on the menu was brunch. We asked for the afternoon tea menu and discovered that afternoon tea doesn’t start until 3pm. Ahhh. Bvlgari exceptional service to the rescue again. They allowed us to order it early, and told us it would take about 25 minutes to prepare for the four of us. No problem at all. An opportune moment to order cocktails whilst we wait. Make that a Cosmopolitan.
Group photo with fellow gastronomads. (I would be the rather tanned-looking gal)
Not long after our cocktails were brought out, our Afternoon Tea boxes arrived. Wow. Speedy service. And the Afternoon Tea boxes were amazing! Ingenius. So clever and creative. And the food was divine. Gotta love the Italians for their love of food.
The first box was the savoury appetizers.
Delectable morsels of food. Totally sapid (my new word for the day).
Mini capsicum stuffed with a risotto, cheese wrapped in smoked salmon, a zucchini and Italian meat sandwich, pancetta and a mini hamburger was a great way to ease into the afternoon.
This mini hamburger was so tasty from such a tiny little thing. Anything miniature is cool. A fleck of gold to touch. It ain’t Italian without some bling!
The second box was like our own little bread box! With a scone, croissant, quiche and a biscotti.
Desserts – another delightful treasure chest of sweets.
There was the tiramisu macron…
Because it was difficult to take photos of the food inside the boxes, you’ll notice that I was balancing the food on the edge of the boxes. (Yep, unleashing the inner food stylist in me.) In the beautiful egg-shaped shot glass was a passionfruit and banana cream pannacotta with white chocolate on top. So smoothly delicious. And the remaining square was for the condiments. Cream and jam for the scone and croissant. A jam trolley was brought out to us, and we were able to choose our jams from a selection. – honey, apricot jam, strawberry jam, or chocolate. We were then handed a small bowl of our selected jam to complete the set.
Each of the four squares (boxes) make up one big square. Such playful presentation. Oh, and the boxes were stackable.
It made for one very crowded table.
The food was amazing. Uber delicious. Beautifully portioned and presented. Belissimo. There is a nice selection of teas and coffees to choose from. I was suitably impressed by the selection – the usual favourites made their appearance (Afternoon tea blend, Assam, Darjeeling, herbal teas) along with some unusual blends too. Or coffee/hot chocolate if you prefer. I chose the Imperial Orange Pekoe Tea (which is a type of Ceylon UVA blend, I think).
No room on the table for our teapots so they had them lined up on a counter. The teapots offered quite the generous serving, which they will top up with hot water refills. (No tea sampling, but that was fine by me.) Tea supplier if you’re interested was Qi Botanical (Canada).
Oversized tea strainer…loved it.
The one flaw, the only flaw that caught my discerning eye was the packet sugar. They went to such lengths in quality everywhere else but the sugar must have been overlooked. They plonked down a container of packet sugar. You’d think they’d use sugar cubes or sugar granules. I don’t take sugar with my tea but still this was a small detail which stood out (in my eyes) amongst the decadence of everything else. (There’s a photo in the slideshow below). Can’t forget the obligatory photo of the scone with jam and cream.
The thing I saved for last was the Bvlgari Bvlgari signature chocolate token. Made with shochu and matsutake (a famous Japanese mushroom…I guess kinda like a truffle perhaps). It was super rich. I struggled to get through it. This single chocolate alone sells for about 1000yen (around 10buks).
The Afternoon Tea Box Set at il Bar (Bvlgari in Ginza) is superbly priced for excellent quality food and impressive service at 3600yen. (A champagne option is also available at champagne prices). Cocktails ranged from 1500-2500 yen. Generous serves. A great place for a leisurely decadent afternoon tea. We spent about 4 hours here. Let’s just say that the Bvlgari Box Afternoon Tea Set ticked all my boxes – great location (the heart of Ginza), delicious food (compliments to the chef), wonderful services (super attentive, polite, all English speaking too right down from the email reservation to even taking our orders and explaining the dishes in English – really considerate gesture even though they didn’t need to. There were 2 Japanese amongst us, plus me (Japanese competent)), and exceptional value. They totally deserved the little inadequate thank-you email I sent them. Here are some photos of the atmosphere and decor at il Bar. Even though it’s a Bar, by day it functions more as a cafe-lounge. They do a Brunch Box Set which I am also keen to try. It was crowded pretty much the whole time we were there. I took most of these photos once a lot of people had left. At night, it’s more a bar. They do drinks, cocktails, as well as dinner.
View over Ginza….
Glasses (one of every shape) on the Bar counter. I thought this was cool.
They don’t take reservations at il Bar….so good luck in getting a spot. Afternoon tea menu is from 3pm – 6pm. Brunch available during the daytime. On the floor below is the Bvlgari il ristorante. Impressive. Here are some shots looking down into the dining area from the Bar.
The Bvlgari building in Ginza – shop on street level.
Bvlgari Tokyo restaurants website can be found here. Afternoon Tea is offered at il Bar. You can download the menu sample there. If the il Bar Afternoon Tea Box set is too much, you can try the smaller version at their cafe in Omotesando. It consists of one of the small box squares only rather than the full set. It includes tea and coffee. Don’t get confused between the Ginza and the Omotesando venues. You can read the Bvlgari il Bar reviews on Tabelog as well (Japanese). Bvlgari il Bar in Ginza is in the heart of Ginza. Closest station exit is Ginza subway line, Ginza station – exit 12. It’s right next door to the Matsuya department store, opposite Chanel. From il Bar, we could see across into the Chanel restaurant. Who knew that all these high fashion labels did food as well. That restaurant looked fancy too. My tagline for this afternoon tea would be: “Bvlgari Afternoon Tea: Food over Fashion.” Really, I must stop outdoing myself on finding outstanding places to do afternoon tea in Tokyo. Enjoy the complete photo slideshow.