Afternoon tea is a light meal typically eaten at 4 o'clock and traditionally includes loose tea served in a teapot along with various tea sandwiches, scones and other cakes and pastries. It is possibly my favorite kind of afternoon activity. Therefore, I have made it my mission to try out all the afternoon tea spots in Boston before finishing graduate school. A lofty goal, I know, but I'm willing to make the attempt.
The first location was the tea room at the Ritz Carlton (now the Taj). The room was filled with comfortable armchairs and cozy couches, and tea was served on small round tables by tall windows overlooking Newbury Street or on low coffee tables more interior. A harpist offered additional old world ambience. The food, in a word, was FABULOUS. Everything was served to perfection from the lobster profiteroles to the tiny little tea cakes. Tea was served in ceramic teapots heated over tealights and an attentive waiter came by periodically to refill the cups. For a classy, but light afternoon tea experience, this is the place to be.
Next on the list was the Mother's Day tea at L'Espalier. Here the food was PHENOMENAL. Unlike at the Ritz, the focus was on the savory fingerfood. My personal favorite was the Toasted Niman Ranch ham and Comté with currant chutney. Following the vast array of sandwiches came the dessert plate. This was less impressive than the desserts at the Ritz, but after all the savory bites, I could barely finish the sweets! Still, the Tarragon Madeleines and chocolate covered strawberry were particularly good. L'Espalier provided the best tea sandwiches I have ever had, although the dining room does not have the same lovely ambience as that at the Ritz.
Most recently I tried out tea at Intrigue in the Boston Harbor Hotel. Although the food was not on par with L'Espalier or the Ritz, the waterfront location more than made up for the difference. In summer there is outdoor seating right along the harbour and on cooler, rainy days the indoor seats afford a view of the water through tall windows. And for the surprisingly affordable price - it was definitely worth the trip!
If, in the off chance you cannot make it out for afternon tea, why not have it at home? A Whittard of Chelsea just opened up on Newbury Street. Stop by to peruse their tea selection while you sample freshly brewed teas along with scones, cookies and madeleines. Perhaps you'll find a special bone china teacup to call your own!
À tout à l'heure,