The origins of the afternoon tea can be traced back to the 18th century and many believe it was thanks to Anna, Duchess of Bedford and lifelong friend of Queen Victoria, that this pleasurable occasion became popular. Her story is evoked on the first page of the afternoon tea menu at the InterContinental Dublin, one of Ireland’s finest five star hotels, and a wonderful place to experience the classic elegance of this ritual.
We arrived on a rather rainy Sunday and the plan was to celebrate a visit from a very special guest by sharing this iconic treat. A table for three was ready for myself, my husband and our nephew. We made our way, admiring the beautiful surroundings of The Lobby Lounge and Reading Room. Among us, tables filled with friends, families and couples were already enjoying their respective three-tiered towers of refreshments and sweets.
Presented with the menus, we took our time to choose from over two dozen varieties of tea. I appreciated the level of care and detail with which they were described. From the must-have classics such as Earl Grey or Irish Breakfast, to the subtle Silver Needle or Sencha Rose. We chose Vanilla Black, Wild Cherry and Jasmine Pearls. I didn’t resist the temptation of a glass of Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé, the house of choice for the Champagne afternoon tea.
As our waitress described what was included in the menu, she asked us if we had any request. I mentioned it would be ideal if one of the menus could have a low sugar alternative for the sweets and after checking in with the chef, she came back with a smile and a yes.
The atmosphere was luxurious but friendly, with piano softly playing in the background, bright natural light and of course, exquisite tableware.
Soon we were admiring our own three-tiered feast.
First, the finger sandwiches. The selection included the classic smoked Irish salmon and dill cream cheese, a zesty lemon scented chicken salad served on the softest brioche, egg paprika, and ham and cheese.
There were also two open sandwiches, roast Irish beef with creamed horseradish and crab salad. Fresh bread, local ingredients and attentive presentation were constant.
Moving to the second floor, we had two mini buttermilk scones each. They came accompanied by clotted cream, and delicious and plentiful homemade mango and raspberry preserves.
The scones were light and airy, fresh and baked to the right spot of golden.
Finally, we made it to the top-tier. At the peak, an assortment of colourful sweets was waiting for us. The pastries included a combination of fruity, floral and nutty flavours.
The white chocolate and cherry ganache was a bright and playful little basket of sweetness; the peanut butter and jelly marshmallow tart took the humble PBJ into patisserie terrority; the strawberry shortcake felt like something out of a super-cute Japanese animation; and my favourite of them all, the blueberry and lime mouse with lime shortbread biscuit, was a glossy, zesty, creamy quenelle of wow.
The low sugar alternative, which they kindly provided despite the short notice included a Crème Brûlée, chocolate posset, orange panacotta and assorted fruits.
We refilled our teapots (you can try a different tea if you wish to) and enjoyed our surroundings a little bit longer. The Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental Dublin was a great experience to share with the family; fitting to its royal beginnings, it was lavish and we felt completely looked after every second of it.
Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental Dublin is priced at €40 per person. You can include a glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut Champagne for €15 per person or Perrier-Jouët Blason Rose Champagne for €18 per person.
For more information or to book, call 016654000 or visit intercontinentaldublin.ie.
REVIEW BY GABY GUEDEZ