I’m recently returned from a few days in Ireland, primarily to visit my sister and the newest addition to our family, her newborn son. He is a gorgeous little fella and, so far at least, a very content baby. So content in fact that he allowed his mammy and his auntie two hours of peace to enjoy a wonderful afternoon tea in Dublin on the Saturday of my visit.
A while ago I was invited to try the afternoon tea at Inn on the Green, the bar of the Fitzwilliam Hotel on St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin city centre. In one of those rare, serendipitious occurrences, I was able to combine my day trip to Dublin with a visit to a cousin, a visit to an old friend and a day out with my sister and my nephew.
It worked out perfectly, with the late afternoon tea being an ideal way to round the day off and toast the new addition.
Tom, the beverage manager at the Fitzwilliam, and his bar men looked after us very well, explaining on our arrival that afternoon tea at the Fitzwilliam Hotel is a little different to the usual tea experience. The hotel is a modern one and, in keeping with that, so is the style of afternoon tea.
No drawing rooms or blazing log fires here. While they, of course have their charms, the ambience of the Fitzwilliam is more fitting to the city centre location, right next to the Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre. Writing this now, I can imagine popping in there for tea and staying for a few drinks on a girls’ weekend away.
Having made our selection from the tea menu (Irish Cream for me, Earl Grey for my sister), we browsed the list of canapes which would comprise the edible element of the afternoon tea. Asparagus, blue cheese, prawns, goats cheese, tuna and crab all featured on the savory selection. With such a range of savoury food on offer, I decided to go for the glass of Prosecco that was on the menu as an optional add-on.
Profiteroles, salty caramel, opera cake and macaroons made up the sweet element of the tea. There was a scone and jam too, for the traditionalists.
Before the food arrived we were impressed. Once we saw and tasted it, even more so. The presentation was beautiful, with a huge amount of attention to detail. Each dish featured twice – one per person – which I loved. There was none of the “You have it”, “No you, I insist” nonsense over the tastiest looking cakes.
We started at the top and worked our way down, taking our time and marvelling at the intensity of flavour packed into such small dishes. Everything was fresh and had the impression of being lovingly prepared.
Topping up our tea, we approached the bottom layer of the cake stand. It was hard to know what to try first. My favourite ended up being the least impressive looking of the lot – rhubarb compote with white chocolate mousse. It was perfection. I would never have thought of putting those two flavours together, but I will definitely be trying out that combination at home.
As we were finishing up the desserts, a waiter came to ask us about our choice of cocktail. Yes, a cocktail as a post dessert pick-me-up. If that’s not an ideal way to make the transition from afternoon to evening, I don’t know what is!
Given the choice of Nutella Martini or Cucumber Cup, we opted try both. The gin-based Cucumber Cup won. Fresh, zingy and tasting nicely of gin, this cocktail was refreshing and made a nice contrast to the dessert we had just had. The Nutella Martini was delicious for a sip or too, but too much for us after all we had eaten.
We left the hotel with a great impression of the staff, the food and the surroundings and a pledge to myself to add Cucumber Cup to the list of gin cocktails we make at home.
P.S. Booking is easy. Just look up the afternoon tea page on the hotel’s website.
[Disclaimer: We were invited as guests of The Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin to partake of afternoon tea for two in exchange for a fair and honest review. All pictures, thoughts and opinions are my own.]