This review is for the afternoon tea at the Taj. I've done the Taj tea twice, and my first experience was excellent. However, I went for my birthday in February, and was sorely disappointed.
They offer 2 and 4 pm seatings, and the 4 pm one (little late for tea, no?) was the only seating with availability, 2.5 weeks in advance. The Taj is great with decor and ambience, the tea room is what you'd imagine when you picture ladies-who-lunch going to tea 100 years ago. Lots of gilt, white linens, tufted chairs and of course, the violinist puts it right over the top (when I went the first time, they had a violinist AND a harpist, which was delightful).
Though we had a reservation, we still had to wait, and the staff seemed utterly confused as to what they were supposed to be doing. We were finally seated by an overly-enthused staff-person, then served our tea, sometime later. They offer four options, The Taj Royal, which includes tea sandwiches and profiteroles, the Duchess, which only includes tea and sweets, a Traditional Cheese Tasting, and a Children's Tea. Menu is available here: http://www.tajhotels.com/Luxury/City-Hotels/Taj-Boston-Boston/PDF/Afternoon-Tea-Menu.pdf. I ordered the Taj Royal.
The waitress plopped the teapots down willy-nilly, with no indication of to whom each pot corresponded, and we found ourselves rearranging the pot-warmers and pots trying to get them all in the right place. I have a shellfish-allergy, so asked them not to include the lobster profiterole in my serving, and replace it with another item from the tea. They took it upon themselves to also remove the salmon/caviar tea sandwich from my tea and not inform me, and it wasn't until later that I realized I'd been cheated (I would've complained at the time, had I known). The cucumber/cream cheese and egg salad sandwiches were ok, as was the pumpkin madeline and (very sticky) french macaroon. The opera torte was to-die-for, and chocolate-covered strawberries are always great!
Their major failing was the staff. My best friend had brought a cake and special candles for my birthday, and provided it to them, to bring out after our tea. Halfway into the tea, I see our over-enthused greeter emerging into the room with my lit cake, and the violinist began playing "Happy birthday." He walked 10 feet into the room, looked around confusedly, then turned and left. 20 minutes later he returned, with different candles (the others my friend had brought had melted down during his first attempt), another round of happy birthday from the violinist, and he walks right past our table where we're staring at him expectantly, places my cake on a table full of 12-13-year-old girls (with their mom, who said nothing!) next to us, and one of them blows out my candles! Great. Tween-spit all over my cake. My best friend summoned the greeter and inquired if they'd just given our cake to a table full of strangers. He looked mortified, went back to the girls' table and took the cake back JUST before they began cutting it, and took it back out of the room. Another round of violin "happy birthday," a new set of generic candles, and the cake finally made it to our table (brought by the greeter's replacement).
We all waited for a while for a staff member to come over and apologize, offer some sort of compensation, but nothing happened. Eventually, one of my guests went to talk to management, after which they brought our table complimentary glasses of champagne (I had a pregnant guest at my table, and several others who don't drink). I really would've preferred they offer us the value of our cake instead, or something all of my guests could enjoy. Sigh. I e-mailed The Lounge about my experience, which they ignored. The tea is very expensive ($38.00!/person) so I expect superior quality/service. I'll hesitate to go back to the Taj after this.