There’s something so regal about Afternoon Tea, so much so that you likely read about it in a novel or play long before experiencing it for yourself.
Indeed, my first introduction to the idea of high tea came from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and Lady Bracknell’s famed cucumber sandwiches.
But Oscar Wilde’s cucumber sandwiches possibly belong to a bygone age, so what would the modern Lady Bracknell seek out in Afternoon Tea? The answer is simple – chocolate.
A love of chocolate and a desire to release my inner lady brought me to Brown Thomas on Grafton Street in Dublin, where The Restaurant by Johnnie Cooke is currently serving a delectable Godiva Chocolate Afternoon Tea.
Given that it’s January and I, like many other good-natured souls, was trying to live a healthier life following excessive binging over Christmas, the thought of indulging in chocolate afternoon tea on a Thursday seemed almost inconceivable.
But here I was admiring the Vera Wang Wedgwood plates and feeling positively regal as I tried to narrow down my choice of tea from the vast selection available in the restaurant.
I decided on the Ginger Orange Chai after remembering that orange and chocolate are always a winning combination, while Darina elected to sample the Yunnan Black Mao Feng tea, looking forward to the sweet and malty taste with touches of caramel and cocoa to further enhance her chocolate experience.
Something that didn’t require much agonising over was the champagne. The fantastic glass of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label bubbly immediately upped our Afternoon Tea game.
This wasn’t my first time in The Restaurant by Johnnie Cooke, nor was it my first time sampling some of the chef’s creations. But despite this, I’m not sure I had thoroughly prepared myself for what was about to come.
Johnnie Cooke has been referred to as the canapé king of Dublin, a title that would never be questioned as soon as that incredible tray of freshly prepared nibbles arrived at our table.
With not one, but two trays of sweet treats, our eyes grew wide with anticipation. There wasn’t a cucumber sandwich in site in the savoury section, with the bread-less presentation designed purely for the modern lady (though I’m sure Lady Godiva would approve).
When we were chatting to Johnnie later, he explained his reasoning for abandoning the traditional bread-based sandwiches. He said that the bread was just filler and he wanted to cut straight to the flavour instead. And we couldn’t argue there, the flavour was really something else.
Turning to the savoury section, we kicked things off with the Avocado and Shrimp Bruschetta in Cos Lettuce and a Cocktail Sauce.
This was a wonderful start to our Afternoon Tea as we realised that absolutely everything, even down to the ripeness of the avocado, was perfect.
A surprising favourite in the savoury section was the Quail Egg Nest on Kataifi Pastry with Green Goddess Mayonnaise and Espelette Pepper.
An egg mayonnaise sandwich for more modern times, the creative presentation immediately drew me in, while the textured pastry worked incredibly well with the herb mayonnasise and petite egg. The subtle heat of the espelette pepper made this canapé a winner.
The Medjool Date was another highly appreciated taste at our table, with the Crozier Blue Goat’s Cheese upgrading this sweet energy bite into a deeply pungent and innovative savoury treat.
A little strong for my own personal taste buds, Darina loved this intelligently crafted piece, citing Crozier Blue as one of her favourite Irish cheeses.
Cleansing our palates after the blue cheese, we turned next to the Caprese Tomato. As I tucked into the salad on a skewer, the burst of the creamy Mozzarella was most welcome.
Though this simple dish contained no trace of chocolate, the melting Mozzarella very much resembled indulgent melted chocolate.
Finally, the undisputed highlight of the savoury section was the Godiva Milk Chocolate, Raspberry and Duck Liver Mousse Macaron.
A genius canapé, it seemed more suited to a fine dining restaurant than the elegant tray I plucked it from in the middle of Brown Thomas.
Before we dove head first into the sweet selection, we took a moment to appreciate the Godiva Chocolate Chip Scones in front of us.
Scones are a traditional staple when it comes to Afternoon Tea, but these guys definitely got the chocolate upgrade we’ve been secretly hoping for our whole lives.
As the main bread-based item on the menu, they had a lot to live up to. Perfectly crisp on the outside and pillow soft on the inside, these scones were just delicious. I couldn’t help but wonder why we didn’t all switch out raisins for chocolate chips long ago.
With a variety of sweet treats to suit all palates, and especially those craving chocolate (after all, that’s why we’re here), we didn’t quite know where to begin on the desserts.
Knowing it contained treasured pistachio, I was unable to resist the shimmering pearl. Covered in lustre dust, the soft Godiva White Chocolate and Pistachio Pearl was a pleasurable hit of nutty sweetness.
The fact they served it in a real pearl shell made the experience all the better. The attention given to the presentation of this Afternoon Tea cannot be faulted.
Next, we sampled (devoured) the Chocolate Coffee Verrine. A moist sponge cake, topped with a creamy dark chocolate Chantilly cream, milk chocolate jelly and coffee creameux. It was positively sinful and I loved every moment of it.
Not usually a major fan of mousse, mainly due to the texture, the layered approach and conflicting textures of this dessert were beautifullly thought out and made for an exciting chocolate experience. There wasn’t a speck left in the jar after a few minutes.
Needing a break from the rich chocolate, we sampled the Lemon Meringue Tartlet and White Chocolate Crème Brulèe, as well as the simple, yet irresistible chocolate covered strawberry.
Finally, it was time for what we both agreed was our favourite sweet treat on the tray – the Godiva Chocolate and Raspberry Truffles.
As everything is prepared fresh for the Afternoon Tea, the unassuming truffles were still wonderfully melted and well worth the mess when eating.
The ultimate chocolate lovers dream, the chocolate melted in my mouth while the intense flavour of the dried raspberry perfectly paired with the rich, indulgent treat. I’m not ashamed to admit that we both scraped what was left of the truffle from the tray – it was that good!
Lady Godiva was passionate about what she believed in, just as Johnnie Cooke passionately created this inventive and incredibe Afternoon Tea. In his words, the Godiva Chocolate Afternoon Tea is “no filler, all flavour”.
And while I’m a fan of Oscar Wilde and classical things, some modern twists aren’t bad and this Afternoon Tea certainly proves that point – it is an unmissable experience for all chocoholics.
This indulgent Godiva Chocolate Afternoon Tea experience available for a limited time only. It is priced at €35pp without Champagne and €47.50pp with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label.
The Restaurant by Johnnie Cooke
88-95 Grafton Street,
T: (01) 605 6701
Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.
Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.
A big people person, especially when it comes to hearing other people’s stories, Sarah loves interviewing chefs, food producers and more.