I’m not sure when afternoon tea had such a resurgance but a resurgance it has certainly had! Everywhere I go, I see offers for afternoon tea. From fancy hotels to garden centres, everyone is getting in on the act.
I have sampled a fair few it has to be said now consider myself to be quite a good judge of what works and just isn’t up to scratch.
With this in mind, I was looking for a special venue for afternoon tea as a belated birthday celebration. My best friend, Rachel was flying in for a speedy visit and I thought that we should do something extra nice to treat ourselves.
After much consideration, I decided on the Merchant Hotel in Belfast City Centre. It’s a stunning venue in a great location. I normally go there for cocktails but had heard great things about their afternoon tea options.
If you haven’t been to the Merchant yet, you really should give it a visit. It used to be the HQ of Ulster bank and is now a 5 star hotel. The decor is a mix of Victorian grandeur and Art Deco and it certainly impresses.
There are many bars and restaurants to choose from but the afternoon tea is served in the Great room, which was originally the main banking hall. A domed ceiling and Corinthian columns with plump cherubs looking down, all add to the sense of occasion!
There are a few options for afternoon tea. The basic version costs £22.50 but has a massive hike to £29.50 on Saturday and Sunday. While there are definitely cheaper versions to be found elsewhere, the Merchant does excel in quality of service, food, style, choice and quantity. Make no mistake, this is a feast and a half and is not to be rushed!
The waiting staff were most attentive and offered to change anything that wasn’t to our liking. I can’t bear egg sandwiches (a sin for a chicken keeper I know!) so they simply served another sandwich in its place. The choice for afternoon tea includes the following:
- Chicken with rocket and pesto butter
- Goat’s cheese and roasted red pepper
- Ham, mustard and maple butter
- Smoked trout, horseradish, dill and lime cream cheese
- Free range eggs with crème fraiche and chive
- Raspberry and coconut cake
- Banana bread
- Freshly baked plain and fruit scone, Devonshire clotted cream, strawberry preserve
An assortment of cakes and pastries including:
- Milk chocolate and cherry crèmeux
- Bramley apple and butterscotch meringue tartlet
- Yuzu crèmeux choux pastry
- Caramel and chocolate gateau
- Honey and pain d’epices macaroon
Everything I tasted was delicious. I’m not a fan of macaroons so I left those, and a few items we shared just to get a taste. I defy you to finish this as it really is a lot of food. Thankfully they offer a “doggy box” to take home any leftovers.
As we were there on a Saturday, there was a Jazz group playing who were fabulous and really added to the ambience.
If you have a special occasion, or simply want to spoil yourself, book this experience. I definitely want to go back!