Foreign Tearoom Delights No.1: Dubai

Browsing through computer files today, I was reminded of taking tea in some rather nice places outwith Scotland. After Scotland, England is the place I’ve taken tea most, but I’ve also had some more far flung tearoom delights.

I’ve changed laptops three times in recent years, and during all these changes appear to have mislaid quite a lot of photos. I daresay they’re somewhere on SD cards or discs, but from amongst those readily available I found a batch from Dubai.

I worked in a Dubai shipyard for a few months in 2010, in the middle of summer, which was almost unbearably hot. We didn’t get much time off, but on one occasion I went into town with a friend and discovered a marvellous tearoom called Shakespeare & Co.

We hopped out of a taxi in the city under burning skies, in desperate need of some refreshment, and saw a place that looked like it might meet our requirements. From the outside I had no expectation of what we’d find inside. When I walked in and saw the cakes on display, I was quite astonished.

Next to the cakes there was an equally overwhelming display of sweets and biscuits:

The whole place was very beautiful, and if I were writing a guide to taking tea in Dubai, this place would certainly be in it.

In the next picture, note the Arab gentleman seated on the sofa wearing the traditional headdress. The design of this headdress is centuries old, unlike the mobile phone he’s checking.

They had the most beautiful paper placemats on the tables:

And the chairs had delightful tassels hanging down from the seats:

It was late morning when we got there and I opted for a mini cheesecake, while my friend had a cooked breakfast. We both had Darjeeling tea.

My cheesecake was soft and fluffy and topped with raspberry jam, a fresh raspberry dusted with icing sugar, a slice of strawberry and two thin sticks of dark chocolate:

The cooked breakfast came with a basket of toast, and butter pressed into a ceramic dish covered with a shiny domed lid:

There was also a selection of preserves. I took the honey back to my apartment and enjoyed it for a few days afterwards:

There was a very smiley chef visible through a hatch next to the dining area and he looked so happy that I asked if I could take his photo. He cheerfully said yes and then promptly put on a serious face for the camera. I tried to cajole him into beaming his lovely smile again for the shot, but he was having none of it. I expect he wanted to look like an earnest fellow sincere about his work.

On our way out I noticed a freezer full of lemon sorbets and other frozen desserts:

A beautiful gift shop:

And a very impressive cellophaned cone of macaroons:


36 thoughts on “Foreign Tearoom Delights No.1: Dubai

  1. This place is exquisite! My brother-in-law used to spend quite a bit of time in Dubai. I will have to ask him if he ever visited this place. Thank you so much for sharing. I really enjoyed this post. 🙂

    • Thank you very much! I believe they’ve recently opened another branch in Dubai. I think I went to the original one when I was there, and I would certainly recommend the experience to anyone visiting or staying in Dubai.

  2. Wow what a wonderful find! What’s Dubai like? Sounds like you didn’t have a lot of free time to really enjoy the city. At least you found this delightful spot.

    • Thank you, I didn’t have a lot of free time but I did get to see a bit of the place. I saw the dusty views from the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and the indoor ski slope (with real snow – insane in a country that hot!). I also went go-carting a couple of times on an outdoor track which was hideously hot, but a lot of fun. It’s a strange place, extremely lavish and outrageously decadent in some ways but also home to some very poor immigrants who make the whole city work. It left me feeling a bit uncomfortable, and not just because of the heat.

  3. Decadent mightn’t become to describe the gift shop but I do believe retail therapy is the key to all things in moderation. That and a healthy appetites for the good stuff (and Maltesers!)

      • A friend got one from there. And I’ve passed by it a few times. I like that place. I’ve had fresh tarts from there also. They’re so light and crisp. And by the evening, I was told the stock finishes!

        • I’m not surprised they sell out of their delicious cakes and tarts. If you worked there you would hope there would be leftovers that you could take home but perhaps that doesn’t happen very often.

    • Thanks Jo. So much of Dubai is on a grand scale, and standards in upmarket eateries are very high. I wasn’t expecting anything quite like this when I walked through the door though, so it was a very pleasant surprise.

  4. I guess the good thing would be the heat would dampen your appetite so you wouldn’t overeat because you would need that! lol

    • I’m trying to remember if the heat did dampen my appetite, you would think it might have done, but I seem to remember eating quite a lot while I was there, especially chocolate, which helped me to get through the gruelling temperatures.

  5. That is simply amazing! If you hadn’t said where it was, I would have assumed some very chi-chi place on the Right Bank in Paris.

    Some friends of ours lived in Dubai for a few years and like you they found the army of immigrant workers made them feel uncomfortable. They said there appeared to be no health & safety measures for the many construction workers.

    • You’re right, it does look very French.

      I’m sorry to say it’s true about the immigrants. There were about 10,000 of them – mostly Indians and Bangladeshis – working in the shipyard for next-to-nothing. When you’re in direct sunlight inside a great steel hull, in very high humidity and temperatures exceeding 45C in the shade, it’s no joke. I, at least, had an air-conditioned office I could retreat to when it got too much (as it frequently did), but the immigrants had no such luxury. The ships I was working on were originally going to be built in Norway, but it’s so much cheaper in Dubai, and someone has to pay the price for that. The Saudi royal family are amongst the richest people in the world so the contrast between the immigrants and the well off may well be greater here than anywhere else in the world.

  6. That tea shop is so pretty! One of my daughters was there a few years back, but she said they mostly ate Middle Eastern food. I wonder if all Middle Eastern restaurants have those tall flower arrangements. Every one I’ve ever been in does.

    • Thank you, I was quite excited about going to Dubai, but it was just too hot for me, even in early summer. I prefer colder, more northern, climes which aren’t nearly so exotic!

  7. Hello Lorna, that’s some place. If you’d posted the pictures and said ‘Guess where’ I don’t think I’d have thought of Dubai. I particularly like the look of that raspberry atop your cheescake in picture number 7.

    What work were you doing there? It must be unusual to find girls working in a Dubai shipyard.

    • Hi Finn, I liked the raspberry too, I expect it may have been what sold the cheesecake to me because I’m very fond of raspberries.

      It is unusual to find girls there, I was the only one in my company most of the time, but there were a few others now and then. I think I saw about 7 girls in total in the dockyard while I was there but there may have been more hiding away somewhere. I was there to assist with rigging a new build vessel – running cables, installing equipment and suchlike. It was the first time I’d done anything like that and it was a very interesting experience.

      • Wow, what a cool job. I come from a family of seafarers and engineers on the Danish side. My grandfather built ships in a small town on the island of Fyn and two of my uncles sailed them. I’m fascinated by ships and how on earth one goes about designing and building something as enormous as that. Awesome.

        • Do you sail yourself? They are amazing things and I feel very privileged whenever I’m on one. I feel even more in awe now that I’ve seen how they’re put together behind all the shiny nice bits you see when they’re finished. I have no idea how many miles of cable are run from top to bottom to power the staggering number of appliances and bits of kit, but it certainly is a lot.

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