There are so many wonderful and special places to have afternoon tea in Dublin. I have made it my mission to try them all! I have spent wonderful afternoons tasting the delights in The Merrion Hotel, The Shelbourne Hotel and The Westin. They serve exquisite treats, in beautiful surroundings with attentive service. Their high standards are well known, and for me, they are places that I go to mark a special occasion.
However, sometimes with so many high profile places to indulge in afternoon tea, we neglect to seek out the hidden gems. What of all the other places to have an afternoon tea? Perhaps one that I can enjoy more regularly? Ones that offer a different type of charm?
I recently visited The Victorian Tearooms in Straffan. I went with my friend Cathy ( one half of the A Home Made By Committee blog). I suggested it as it was convenient for her (one must pander to the needs of a pregnant lady!) and because I had enjoyed a lunch there a few weeks previously. The afternoon tea needs to be booked ahead of time. This, to me, was a wonderful advantage as it guaranteed us a table on a busy Saturday afternoon in a small local café.
The café is positioned in a courtyard with a variety of antique and homeware shops (nice for a little wander). Inside it has a relaxed country feel without (in my opinion) having that trying too hard ‘quirky chic’ feeling. I have enjoyed quite a few cream teas in Devon and Cornwall (for research purposes of course!), and the setting here is reminiscent of the types of places where this type of dining truly belongs and originates in that part of the world.
The service is friendly and attentive, and I had that lovely feeling that I was visiting a relative (that I liked!) that was interested without being nosey! In other words, all our needs were met in an efficient, friendly and informal way.
Onto the food…well the drinks! There was a good range of teas, loose leaves, served in teapots with little strainers and teacups. I love that! It’s the little things in life that make me happy! In addition, the tea was unlimited…we got plenty of top ups during the afternoon.
Now, onto the food proper. The afternoon tea was served on a three tiered stand. One of the things I can find disappoin
ting about afternoon tea is that the savoury sandwiches layer can be too scant. Not in this case. The brown bread was warm and substantial. There were two types of sandwiches…a goats cheese with salad, and cheese and ham. This may not sound particularly special, but it was. As Cathy said, it was ‘proper’ cheese and ham. It was all fresh and delicious…the type of sandwich that is familiar but just a far better version than what you are used to!
The scones were light and crumbly, and had delicious flavour. The pear and almond scone had an interesting variety of textures while the orange and lemon scone was zingy and fresh. Both were served with jam and cream. They were a familiar addition to the afternoon tea trilogy, but with an interesting and tasty twist.
After that the sweet treats seemed endless! Warm chocolate brownies, lemon cake, two types of mini Bakewell tarts, coffee and chocolate éclairs….all perfectly topped off with a pile of fresh raspberries. All of the pastries and cakes were delicious. The brownie was dense and moist, the pastry base of the Bakewell tart was crumbly and buttery, and the fresh raspberries were the perfect tart edge to all the rich sweet treats. The amount of food was perfect for me…enough that I felt I had eaten a little too much (it is an indulgence after all) but not so much that I felt defeated by the layers. Not having too much food also meant that I could enjoy everything that was on offer, but I didn’t need a dinner later on that evening! It was a lot of high quality food and excellent value for E16.50 each. (Incidentally, any cakes we hadn’t eaten were packed up for us!)
So if you are looking for a tempting afternoon tea in a welcoming setting outside of Dublin city, I would recommend trying the Victorian Tearooms. It’s off the beaten track, but on a well worn path and it is certainly worth the trip.