Afternoon tea is definitely one of the most dainty, indulgent first world activities that I enjoy participating in! I have been to some of the big hitters in Dublin city center and cannot fault the Westin’s ‘to die for’ buttermilk scones or the delicious sandwich platter and tea menu from the Westbury. The decadent, dining room in the Lord Mayor’s Lounge at the Shelbourne is a treat. I’ve loved people watching with a flower shaped, cress and seafood paste sandwich as far afield as the Jumeriah in Abu Dhabi. It’s fair to say that afternoon tea and I have a thing for each other!
I have wanted to visit Carton House ever since I heard my favorite actress, Julie Andrews, talk about filming Darling Lili there. They do an afternoon tea for €29.50 each and that price is so very affordable and at only 30 minutes drive outside the city, why the devil not!?
Carton House is one of those great houses from bygone days of elegance and wealth, not entirely out of place in a Downton Abbey-esque series. An example of Georgian era parkland, it sits on 1,100 acres. In 2000 it was redeveloped as a golf and hotel resort.
Golf does not interest me in the slightest so if you are hunting for some facts about the two golf courses on the grounds, I fear I am not the bearer of any information. Might I direct you to Wikipedia for that!
I was far more interested in the mini treats offered on dainty crockery. #notsorry
A short drive out the N4 from Dublin to exit 6 and then all you need to do is keep an eye out on your right for the large stone entrance which I managed to miss the first time around. I blame the subtle sign postage. By subtle I mean almost non existent!
I would highly recommend booking your afternoon ahead of time as it would be frightfully disappointing to have your heart set on mini waffle baskets of savory treats, only to be told there was no availability.
Saturday was First Holy Communion day so there were plenty of families milling about with their sproglets dressed in their Sunday best and only a hint of chocolate ice-cream smeared on their new blazers and cardis betrayed how well behaved they had been instructed to be all day!
While I must admit that the room itself was rather underwhelming and felt a little small, it is the former kitchen and stewards room of the old house so it is to be expected. The harpist who played lifted the ambience and is a regular feature at the weekends. I love harp music and admire how a harpist’s fingertips must be made of metal to endure the constant plucking on such rigid strings!
Our attentive waitress offered us a choice of teas before bringing out the three-tiered tower of tasties. From freshly baked scones served with clotted cream (has to be done) to duck liver pate tartlets and berry macarons you are certainly not left wanting. Check out the menu for yourself here.
If you fancy getting out of the city and don’t want to spend a fortune on afternoon tea, might I recommend Carton House. Areas of the grounds allow for a stroll afterwards and that is highly necessary after an afternoon of indulgence. Watch out for swans. There are a few out by the lake and who knows why those unpredictable cygnines take a dislike to anyone. Just watch out! Combine afternoon tea with a visit to the many cultural and historical areas of interest nearby if you don’t want your day of fun to end, just yet!
Tea is served from 13:00-16:30 every day and prices range from €20 Mon-Fri to €29.50 on weekends.