Places for Teatime in Lima: Market 770

Places for Teatime in Lima: Market 770

Monique LoayzaAmidst the hustle and bustle of Lima’s business district, you can find a respite in Market 770’s tea hour.

(Photo: Monique Loayza/Living in Peru)
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Afternoon tea is a ritual most synonymous with the British culture – a throwback to an age of Victorian tea rooms, where you are served a selection of crustless finger sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, and cream cakes, all elegantly arranged on a tiered porcelain tray. Today it’s a treasured pastime popularly replicated throughout the world.

So how do Peruvians take their tea you ask? I will be doing the tough job of finding out by visiting several spots across Lima where tea hour is served. Contrary to the British custom, the ‘œtea hour’ in Peru is inclusive of an early evening supper, with many starting from 5:30 or 6 pm onwards. In a country where lunch is traditionally the most important, and robust meal of the day, a tea hour provides Peruvians the opportunity to nourish themselves with a warm beverage and a few bites, both savory and sweet. But similar to the British tradition, it also provides a social function – an opportunity to catch up with friends.

The first in my series of reviewing tea spots is Market 770 at the Westin Hotel in San Isidro. Market 770 offers a pleasant afternoon tea service as one would expect in a 5-star hotel. As you enter the modern and grand hotel, make your way past the glass revolving doors, and pass through the handsomely decorated reception area, you will enter into the brightly decorated oasis of Market 770.

Market 770’s tea hour appears to cater for the ‘œladies who lunch’ crowd where the goal is to enjoy a smorgasbord of tiny food in a contemporary yet elegant setting. For a fixed price, you have access to a buffet of savory and sweet foods, a complimentary cocktail, as well as unlimited refills of coffee and their tea of the day. Service is polite and attentive, and you’ll often have a bit of live music to add to the ambiance. Bossa Nova was the genre of choice the evening I went and respectably played by that night’s musician. But alas, I’m here to review the food, not music.

Desserts (Photo: Monique Loayza/Living in Peru)

And really, if you make it over to Market 770 you come here for the desserts. The sweets were by far the highlight here, with the most charming array of petit fours, cakes, and tarts occupying center display in the dining room – they would do Marie Antoinette proud. There should be a warning to anyone visiting who is lacking in self-restraint. I was drawn to the gorgeous red velvet cake and rightfully so. Although not normally my favorite, this one was spongy, moist and a well-executed version of what can often be a bland cake. A glazed apricot cake was almost too pretty to cut, but was mostly underwhelming – the gelatinous
mousse filling lacked any distinct flavor. Likewise, an apple pie beautifully topped with tiny meringues around the perimeter was passable – it lacked the buttery richness and wholesomeness that’s hard to replicate outside the home kitchen.

Overall, you will be better off with the petit fours – they are little regal gems that are ideal for sampling in small portions. I especially liked the cheesecake – it was simple, not overly sweet, and light as mousse. This may not sound complimentary, but count the number of times you’ve had sickeningly dense versions that are destined to give you indigestion and you’ll understand. I also enjoyed the tres leches cake, topped with fresh blueberries and aguaymanto – it had an appealing rich texture and a milky dewiness essential to any serious
take on this dessert.

As well as the desserts, you’ll also come for the complimentary beverages. A pisco cocktail filled with cubes of fresh fruit was delightful, if a bit sweet, and provided just enough of a buzz to warm up the evening. The tea of that day was a delicate herbal passion fruit infusion, served attentively by the staff.

You probably won’t come for the savory foods. They seem to get short shrift by being cast off towards the back of the room, and that’s, unfortunately, for good reason. The selection, from a menu that varies daily, was uneven and offered a mixed plate of breakfast goods (croissants, yogurts, fruit salads) and warm savory items (tequeños, anticuchos, tortillas). The mini sandwiches, probably the most palatable option, included items such as simple mini croissants filled with ham and cheese. While I appreciated the selection of colorful fruit juices, I second guessed how natural they were. It was all pleasant, inoffensive, but also uninspired – basically not a far cry from a hotel-style continental breakfast, just with a few more substantial offerings tossed in. But hey, it’s a buffet, so I guess the fact that you can fill up as many times as possible will be enough to please some folks.

Pisco Sour Cocktail (Photo: Monique Loayza/Living in Peru)

If you go, you will appreciate the warmth of the service and the surroundings – they create an elegant but still approachable ambiance. Approachable also sums up the food – there won’t be anything too exotic to offend the palate. Approachable doesn’t sum up the price, however – you’ll pay S/ 59 *for the service, which includes the complimentary beverages (1 cocktail and unlimited tea and coffee) and an unlimited amount of food. It depends on you. *If you’re looking quantity in a comfortable atmosphere, the tea hour at Market 770 will work for you. It’s also good for groups, as exemplified by a large table celebrating a birthday there one evening. But I can think of a number of patisseries and cafes in Lima where, for a fraction of the price, you might eat less, but you will indulge more, and more pleasurably and adventurously at that.

Price: S/ 59 – includes a complimentary cocktail, unlimited teas, coffee, and juice as well as access to the buffet stations.

Teatime Service: Monday-Friday 17:30-20:00

Market 770
The Westin Lima Hotel & Convention Center
Las Begonias 450, San Isidro, Lima

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