“Is that it?”…
“No, that’s a big house!”…
My housemate and I were driving through the quiet streets of Ardmore and found ourselves at the bottom of the hill, not sure if we were going the right direction.
Expecting a big flashy hotel, we were surprised to see the understated Cliff House Hotel discreetly nested on the cliff.
Yet this luxurious hotel feels contemporary, with the outside made of dark granite stones. Once inside, the lobby is bright with big windows overlooking Ardmore Bay and little touches such as lamps and mirrors frames made with sea shells.
Afternoon tea takes place in the House restaurant on Sundays from 2 to 5pm at a price of €35 per person. However, it’s not on every single week so check dates on their website first.
We arrived earlier than our booking but were welcomed and brought to our table straight away. We were seated in the function room (just adjacent to the main room) with a beautiful fire place and chandelier. Our table was by the window, from where we had the most stunning view over the sea. Such a peaceful setting for an afternoon tea, we were very pleased and eagerly awaited our treats.
We were told that the price included a glass of prosecco and were shown the tea menu that features a great selection.
Soon after, two stands were placed on our table, one for savoury bites and the other full of small pastries and buttermilk scones with raspberry jam, lemon curd in smalls jars, with a bit of cream on the side.
The organic salmon finger sandwich was served with gem lettuce, horseradish sauce and cucumber. It was probably the least exciting part of the meal but still good.
Next up was a thick fennel bread filled with a cray fish salad, which was tastier and more substantial. A small Waterford blaa (the famous little bread roll from Waterford) was lovely with some delicious corned beef and a leek mayonnaise.
The highlight for me was the melted Milleens cheese on walnut bread with some pumpkin relish. The flavours worked so well together and the topping to bread ratio was just perfect.
The cakes were all very sweet but small enough so as not to feel like too much. My highlight was the fool, presented in a verrine with a thin chocolate disc on top: the vanilla crème was light and matched brilliantly with the rhubarb.
The lemon verbena cake had a zingy glaze and lovely green colour. The dark chocolate cake had an almost fudgy consistency with a melt-in-the-mouth chocolate glaze on top. Unfortunately the millionaire square wasn’t too remarkable in comparison to the rest. I loved the pistachio muffin, which came with some orange curd hidden in the middle, topped with a rosewater flavoured soft meringue.
Having tried a few afternoon teas in Dublin, the one served at the Cliff House Hotel is definitely very good value both in terms of food and service. I honestly doubt it’s possible to find an afternoon tea in Ireland with a better view.
I’ll certainly be back to try Martijn Kajuiter’s Michelin starred food some evening for what I’m sure must be a stellar dining experience.
The Cliff House Hotel