Two years ago, we had our first ever afternoon tea to celebrate Mother’s Day and last month, we visited the Lyrath Estate in Kilkenny for the same occasion.
Admittedly, we didn’t get off to the best start. Upon arrival, we were informed that another party were at our table so they would have to seat us elsewhere. This was a bit confusing because we hadn’t booked a specific table — and the place was only about 70 per cent full. The hostess ended up pulling tables and chairs together to accommodate us. I had made the effort to book our table well in advance (and even phoned to confirm that week) so I was a bit annoyed that after arriving on time, we then had to wait for a table to be set up…especially when there was a number of empty tables already there!
Anyway moving on…We weren’t offered a list of different teas but the three of us were happy to opt for regular breakfast tea. The food arrived shortly afterwards — I did appreciate that there wasn’t a long wait for this as we’ve had before in other places.
As always, we started with the savouries. We had baked ham and tomato relish on brown bread, chicken Caesar wrap and smoked salmon on Guinness bread. There was also focaccia with goat’s cheese and a mini chicken and feta quiche. Honestly…I’d probably count these as the best savouries I’ve had on any afternoon tea. I just loved the variety and the flavours. They were the perfect size too. The focaccia was my favourite of this lot — it’s not really something you’d expect to see here but it fitted in so well!
Experience has taught me to skip straight to the sweets after the savouries. Having the scones next is all well and good until you realise that you’ve filled up and can’t really appreciate that all important top tier!
Again, there was so much variety here. We had frangipane tart, chocolate delice, homemade marshmallow, cherry meringue tart, chocolate marbled cake, strawberry mousse in a tiny chocolate teacup and pink lemonade. I have the biggest sweet tooth so you can imagine how happy this made me!
Even better? Everything tasted amazing. It was a perfectly balanced tier too with the fruity tarts and tart lemonade complementing the sweeter things. It’s almost impossible to say which was my favourite but if I really had to pick just one, I’d choose the chocolate delice. It was rich, creamy and delicate all at once and basically my dream dessert!
Once we finished the top tier and gave our stomachs time to settle, I loaded up a scone with butter, jam and cream and lots of anticipation. I have to say that I was surprised then that I didn’t actually like it at all. Even with all the toppings, it was quite dry and I only managed half. This was a bit of a disappointing end to an otherwise delicious stand.
Overall, I enjoyed this afternoon tea although I wouldn’t rate it as my favourite. While the savouries and sweets were definitely amongst the best I’ve had, I think the food is only part of the overall experience (obviously a significant part but still not everything).
The main let-down here had to be the setting. Afternoon tea in the Lyrath is served at the end of the lobby. While we were there, there was a constant stream of people passing by which meant it didn’t feel very private or intimate. As well as that, while the service was fine, it wasn’t particularly attentive. I had to flag someone down every time we wanted more tea — which was a number of times as we had only been given one teapot to share between three.
It was still a lovely experience overall and if you’re in the area, I would recommend trying it out. Also if you have the time, it could be worth stopping in the bar for a drink afterwards (I only had a coffee but the cocktail menu looks incredible!).