DECEMBER 2017 UPDATE:
UPDATE: The space that formerly housed 10 Arts Lounge is now Aqimero by Richard Sandoval. They no longer offer afternoon tea.
I think everybody needs to treat themselves to something out of the ordinary; something that breaks up the monotony of every day life, at least once a month. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something expensive or break the budget. It could be anything that allows us to pamper ourselves for the day or a short time. Something that takes us away from the stress and responsibilities that burden us daily. Whatever that is — it should leave us feeling spoiled, happy, and always refreshed.
Sometimes, as foodies, we might turn to an amazing meal at an acclaimed restaurant or travel to a destination that allows us to explore new culinary delights. It may also mean stocking up on gourmet goodies and just taking it easy at home. The possibilities are endless, especially here in Philadelphia.
If you’re looking for something fancy, but completely reasonable, that will leave you feeling indulgent and pampered, you must add Afternoon Tea at the Ritz Carlton to your list of ways to treat yourself and/or friend or family member.
While there are other fine establishments that offer afternoon tea in Philadelphia, the Ritz Carlton’s special tea experience promises to be luxurious and scrumptious from beginning to end; a truly splendid affair that will leave a lasting impression and create an extraordinary memory for you and anyone that joins you.
Last week, I accepted a generous invitation to preview the Afternoon Tea at the Ritz Carlton. Myself along with at least a dozen other local food writers and bloggers were offered the opportunity to experience it for ourselves before it officially launches in September so that we can tell you all about it. First some details:
- Every Saturday in September and October in 10 Arts Lounge.
- Two separate seatings at noon and 3 p.m. Reservations are required.
- Afternoon Tea is $43+ per guest which includes a glass of champagne.
- Royal Tea includes unlimited champagne and is $63+ per guest (highly recommended)
- Tax and gratuity are not included.
I’ve only been to the Ritz Carlton once before for a networking event many years ago, and sadly have not had the opportunity to return. Dining at 10 Arts Bistro has always been on my list. A shame I never got to try it when Eric Ripert and Jennifer Carroll were at the helm, alas.
When you first walk into the lobby of the Ritz Carlton, the Lounge area is straight ahead. The Bistro area is off to the left. The reception area is off to the right. The colors are warm, inviting and calming. Rich swaths of purple, orange and brown permeate elegance and refinement.
When I walked towards the Bistro area, I was immediately greeted by Jeffery Hattrick, who is the Afternoon Tea Specialist for The Ritz Carlton Hotel chain. He’s based out of Phoenix, but flew in to ensure that the preview went off without a hitch. He welcomed everybody in a charming, bubbly manner.
As foodies started to arrive, we were able to take a look at a table that displayed all of the savory and sweet comestibles we were going to sample that day. Of course everything is served on “good” China.
When I was seated, Jeffrey offered a glass of champagne which I accepted without hesitation. He kept it flowing, too. Bless you Jeffrey. They also had a list of suggested wines and cocktails, but I stuck with the champagne. Please note that wines & cocktails are extra. You can opt for the “Royal Tea” that includes unlimited champagne. I recommend this. *hic*
While sipping champagne, I perused the Afternoon Tea menu that included details about the selections of tea, savory and sweet edibles we were about to enjoy.
The tea menu offers a wide assortment including 4 robust black teas, 2 light green teas, 2 mild oolong teas, 2 caffeine-free botanical blend teas, and one each of subtle white and rich chai. The savory menu includes 6 bite-size delectable nibbles. The sweet menu consists of 2 flavors of scones and 6 types of pastries. The names of the pastries that are cut off from the image above are: Pistachio Opera Cake, Almond Financier, Chocolate Silk Tart and Coconut Macaroon.
Once everyone was seated, Jeffrey introduced himself to us, spoke about the Afternoon Tea program, and how the afternoon would work. He’s quite the showman; in fact if you read his bio, he’s also an entertainer and actor. It was fun to watch him speak about his work and what I’m sure is his “baby” for the Ritz Carlton corporation.
He also introduced us to a few key Ritz Carlton Philadelphia staff members — Catherine (Catie) Lamb, Afternoon Tea Maître d’ and Private Dining Event Planner, and Mohamed Ismail, Director of Food & Beverage. Afterwards, they would introduce themselves to us, help answer our questions and make sure that we had everything we needed.
We were allowed to select 2 teas from the tea menu. At first this seemed like a herculean task as they all sounded wonderful. I’m not a regular tea drinker, but I’m not a novice to the world of tea either.
My first tea selection was the Chocolate Chai. Absolutely delightful; just the hint of sweet and spice. I figured I would start with a “heavier” tea since the edible goodies would be coming soon. They describe the flavor as “decadent cacao and creamy sarsaparilla with rich coconut and bittersweet dandelion root.”
As I began sipping on the Chai tea, the Savory portion of the menu was delivered to our table.
I didn’t have lunch so I was eager to try these tasty darlings. I tried to eat them slowly so that I could truly savor and remember each one, but I wasn’t very successful. The three that stand out in my memory are: Crispy Prosciutto (with charred grapefruit & horseradish cream), Chicken Salad Profiterole (with toasted walnut & red grape) and Roasted Beet Tartar (with chevre on pumpernickel). Those were the ones I felt had the most flavor. Trust me, each one of these dainty tidbits were delish.
As I was noshing away on the hors d’oeuvres, Catie told me it was time to choose another tea. Upon reflection of the tea menu once more, I opted for the Orange Blossom Green Tea. Described as a “fruity green tea with aromatic lemongrass, lemon myrtle, and zesty citrus flavor,” this was a light, refreshing tea that complimented both the savory and sweet goodies I was tasked to nosh on.
The next course followed on the heels of the 2nd tea selection. At this point I was feeling a bit heady from the champagne and the delightful aromatic teas. But I was keen to try the scones: Whole Wheat Raisin and Cranberry.
I adore scones. They rank high on my list of favorite baked things. As is British custom, they are traditionally served with afternoon tea. So naturally they are in the afternoon tea line up at the Ritz Carlton. They are not easy to make but when they are made correctly, they are truly magnificent. These were of the magnificent variety – flaky, but not dry; sweet, but not sickeningly.
They were served with Devonshire cream, lemon curd and strawberry preserves. That were displayed in an edible hard chocolate cup. How quaint… and utterly sinful! And yes, I did the adult thing and ate both of them.
Pastry Chef Stephen Wilson came out to tell us more about the scones and the pastries. Since we were already following each other on Twitter and Instagram he came over to my table to say hello. I can tell he takes great pride in his work.
Once everyone had finished their scones, they brought out and presented the pastry course; elegantly displayed on a silver 3 tier platter (of course), it was the piece de resistance of the afternoon. All of it was heavenly; a perfect sweet bite in each scintillating morsel. The Pistachio Opera Cake, Almond Financier and Coconut Macaroons were my favorites.
This was an outstanding end to a phenomenal experience at the Ritz Carton in Philadelphia. I felt doted on every minute and everything was simply lovely. If you are looking for something fun and indulgent to do this Autumn, grab a few friends or family members and experience the Afternoon Tea at the Ritz Carlton Philadelphia for yourself. Of course, be sure to tell them that you read about my experience here and that I sent you!
Space is limited and reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance. For reservations or additional information please contact Catie Lamb at Catherine.Lamb@ritzcarlton.com.
If you’re already a fan of other afternoon tea events in the city, please go and let me know how it stacks up to the others and share your experience with us.
Here are some more pictures from the Ritz Carlton Afternoon Tea: