My afternoon tea standards met! The Palm Court inside The Balmoral Hotel had bumped my second place winner of afternoon tea outside of the U.S. to third place. My recent second place was Le Maurice’s in Paris while the first has been afternoon tea at the Ritz in London. Both afternoon teas inside The Ritz in London and The Balmoral in Edinburgh have been experienced inside their Palm Courts. There are not many Palm Courts left in the world, which makes those tea experiences very special.
The Palm Court inside The Balmoral was majestic but comfortable. The calming color palate of creams and sage greens with the added palm trees infused a classic ambiance to afternoon tea. To add to the classic ambiance, there was a harpist on a little balcony over looking the Palm Court. Everything was exquisite; from the service, the attention to detail, the delicacies down to the people partaking in tea were beautiful- old and young a like.
—— On the Table —–
Before I start describing my afternoon tea experience, I have to thank my servers for both my tea and my food. Everyone was very kind and genuine. My tea server was wonderful with his long tea pours, show off! He was very personable as we chatted about Krakow where he was from and what I saw while visiting his hometown. My other servers who brought all my courses of afternoon tea were lovely and patient. Service, hospitality and ambiance in addition to food quality create for a magnificent dining experience! It is all those factors bundled up that make the experience special and what we crave in our human experiences.
— Champagne Cocktail —
I started off with their classic champagne cocktail with the fizzing sugar cube. If offered and if you enjoy champagne, I recommend ordering a glass before your afternoon tea experience. Higher end establishments will often offer a champagne afternoon tea which is a magnificent way to upgrade your experience.
— Peony Rose Tea —
Since I am fond of floral tastes, I decided on the Peony Rose Tea which I found a perfect match with the delectable flavors of my afternoon tea courses.
It was the simplest of things but I was amazed and impressed with my tea server and his long pour. It was very skilled and I have never seen anyone pour my tea like this before. He told me that he learned from the Palm Court that the long pour was the correct way to serve tea and it had something to do with the steeping. Well my mind was blown with that new knowledge!
— Amuse Bouche —
I have always enjoyed starting off a dining experience with an amuse-bouche. If you are not familiar with it, an amuse-bouche is a one or two bite course that is savory in nature. It is offered from the chef and is often presented to you with that intention in mind. Typically your host or server will say, “An amuse-bouche from the chef” or “A gift for you from the chef”, then they will describe the little dish given. It is a very hospitable way to welcome you.
Chef Jeff Bland’s Amuse-Bouche of Hazelnut, chives and celeriac
— First Course: Scones —
Served in the traditional and classic afternoon tea service, the scones made their appearance as the first course. The Balmoral’s scones were quite enjoyable especially when loaded with the clotted cream and preserves. I absolutely love clotted cream!
— Second Course: The Savories and Tea Sandwiches —
The second course in afternoon tea has always been my favorite. I am mad for the savories and tea sandwiches. I love how each chef in each corner of the world creates small bites according to their region. It is always a delightful experience!
The savories were offered on their own, plated on a classic tiered server. In truth, this is how I prefer afternoon tea served to me because I do not feel so overwhelmed. I can focus and enjoy what I am eating, one bite at a time. I will never rebuke afternoon tea that is served to me all at once, for the very reason that it is a different experience and how the restaurant wants to present it.
— Haggis Bon-Bon —
Haggis bon-bon with apricot puree | Mushroom and Brie Tart
My haggis experience! This was my second trip to Scotland and I had been wanting to try haggis although I did not want to order a whole dish of it. I had an internal debate prior to this visit about ordering and only taking a bite, then leaving dish. I actually researched on the best haggis representation in Edinburgh and still had that internal debate in my mind. Surprisingly and I thank the Universe for this, but my afternoon tea served a haggis bon-bon! This was the perfect way for me to try haggis although purest have told me that I really did not have the full haggis experience. Whatever. In my world, I tried the perfect bite of haggis which was fried and served on a posh toothpick.
— Tea Sandwiches —
Coronation chicken- free ranged chicken, little gem lettuce, sliced brown bread
Traditional Scotish Ham, Arran mustard, vine ripened tomato, white bread
The Balmoral smoked salmon, chive creme fraiche, wholemeal bread
Egg mayonnaise, mini brioche, mustard watercress
Cucumber and lemon cream cheese, cracked black pepper, soft white bread
A few of my favorite things in life are finger sandwiches or tea sandwiches. I love the delicate flavors and the softness of each bite. Then when sipped with tea it creates a euphoric calmness. Bite – sip – bite – sip – calm ….
–— Third Course: Tea Desserts —
The last course was the sweet pastries, just as in a normal dining experience this would be considered the dessert course. Although small in size these aesthetically pleasing pastries were both gorgeous and sweet. They were so very sweet that I had to pace myself and drink water or my tea in between each bite because things were starting to taste the same. I am not saying anything bad about the tastes, they were very delectable, it is just that I favor the savories
— Palate Cleanser —
When it came time for the bill, I was presented a sorbet on a little cone to cleanse my palate. After large meals with different flavors, having a palate cleanser is a common occurance. The palate cleanser offered may not always be as adorable as this little cone but it is always welcome.
— A Gift from The Balmoral —
Before I left, I was given little departing gifts from The Balmoral! The two other Palm Courts that I have been to in London and in New York also gave me tasteful Thank You Gifts. There is something very special when you treat yourself to places of luxury, they always thank you in the most delicious ways.
Afternoon tea at The Balmoral will always hold a special place in my heart. Not only for the delightful afternoon tea but for the elegant service, the luxurious Palm Court and how all of this created a file of elegance in my personal dining database!
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📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre