Tuesday 28 October 2014

Afternoon Tea at The Shelbourne Hotel

Mr. FFID's mammy is the typical Irish Mammy. She managed to join us in New Zealand for three weeks while we were half-way through our round the world trip in 2010, yep she's like that. She also ran an intensive voting campaign at her workplace to get all her colleagues to vote for my blog at the Image.ie Blog Awards, as if I were her own daughter. She looked after her grandchildren our cats while we were away this summer and was the most enthusiastic volunteer at my French Food Fair a few weeks ago. Last but not least she recently completed a Master degree while working full-time at the age of 53. So did she deserve a special treat? Most definitely.

None of use had tried afternoon tea at the Shelbourne Hotel so Mr. FFID and I treated the Irish Mammy to it, to thank her for everything and celebrate her academic success. 

Booking a table seems to be essential as the room was packed and we had to queue to get in, even with a reservation. The Lord Mayor's Afternoon tea is available all week with the classic priced at €34.95 and the champagne option at €46.95 from Monday to Thursday. From Friday to Sunday it's an additional €2 but you might be lucky enough to hear a classical piano being played on these days (sadly we didn't).

The afternoon tea takes place in the Lord's Mayor Lounge which is a bright elegant room with a fire place, piano and lovely armchairs all around. The room isn't very large but nicely laid-out as you don't hear people's conversations (if you're not too nosy).

We were brought the menus and asked our choice of hot drinks. I was eyeing the display of Mo√ęt champagne right next to me and we couldn't say no to the Irish Mammy when she asked if we should get champagne. So Champagne afternoon tea it was, feck it, you only live once.

We kicked-off with a glass of bubbly and waited quite a while before our plates of sandwiches arrived. They were busy but in fairness we were in no rush, soaking up the luxury surroundings. 

The savoury plate included four different sandwiches: turf smoked salmon on brown wheat soda bread, braised Waterford ham with shallot bound and mayonnaise on sourdough baguette, cherry vine tomato with St Tola Goat cheese on pumpkin and turmeric bread and egg & chicory on low GI bread.

The salmon and the ham sandwiches were the highlights for me but all sandwiches were good, fresh and using quality ingredients with decent breads. 

The first thing that struck me when the cake tray was brought to use was the size of the cakes, they were not small. 

The lower tray included delicious small warm buttermilk scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam and also a nice thick slice of Irish tea brack. 

We had a conical shaped coffee and praline, chocolate vanilla crunch dessert. This was my favourite, the coffee flavour was quite subtle, the mousse texture was light and the crunch brought a nice contrast. It was a proper, elegant afternoon tea treat.

The carrot cake was lovely and moist, topped with a vanilla cheese cake topping that might have been  a little heavier for me.

There was a caramelised banana and coconut macaron, I liked the flavour combination and the softness of the banana filling however it was very sweet.

Now if there's one thing you'll never make me eat it's trifle: it's not an appealing dessert for me. I'm just not a fan of the jelly texture and I think the use of hundreds & thousands looks cheap, so I didn't eat it. That's said, my French palate is totally subjective and I admit being picky when it comes to cakes.

We were initially given a table for 90 minutes but stayed a bit longer and weren't rushed in any way. The room emptied for the second service, which was great as I could take pictures with no one around. We didn't manage to finish the food and asked to bring everything away in a little doggie bag.

Overall I thought it was one of the best afternoon teas I've had in Dublin, the service was very polite and professional and the settings just beautiful. The savoury plate was spot on, the desserts a little too rich but the selection changes regularly so the evil trifle might not be there all the time and my two Irish afternoon tea companions seemed to have enjoyed the desserts more than me.

At the end of the day the Irish Mammy was over the moon, mission accomplished.

The Shelbourne Hotel
27 St Stephen's Green
Dublin 2