There’s something seriously comforting about the ritual of tea. From the ceremony of steeping and pouring to the feeling of extravagance that comes with a sweet treat alongside your favourite brew, enjoying a cuppa at home is one of my favourite parts of the day. So when I was invited by Titanic Belfast to bring a friend and enjoy the ceremony of their luxurious afternoon tea by the Grand Staircase, I jumped at the chance to experience afternoon tea as it’s meant to be enjoyed.
Trading in my over-sized Ikea mug for fine china reminiscent of that used aboard the Titanic and Sunday loungewear for my Sunday best, I entered the gorgeous Olympic Suite of Titanic Belfast to the hum of live jazz musicians performing in front of the backdrop of that famous staircase. At first I found it difficult getting my head around a high-class tea held in the same building as one of Belfast’s busiest tourist attractions, but the venue soon transported me to an era where tea was an event worth sharing.
Greeted at the door by a highly professional and vigilant team of wait staff and hosts, the team at Titanic made us feel like VIPs from the first greeting through to seating and a briefing on what to expect from our afternoon tea. After discussing the menu and order of service with our waiter, our first step was to choose our brew. We were presented with a number of blends to choose from including Earl Grey, Irish breakfast tea, Titanic luxury house tea, and some alternative options including green, peppermint and a berry blend herbal tea. Opting for the first class experience, we chose the signature Titanic luxury house tea, which boasts a blend of Assam tea (India) and Kenyan tea and is supplied by local brand Thompson’s Family Teas.
Following a ceremonious pour from Titanic staff suited in period uniforms, what can only be described as a tower of treats and sandwiches quickly arrived tableside. Overwhelmed by choice, we were presented with an assorted plate of finger sandwiches including: roast topside of beef and tarragon aioli with wild rocket, pickled cucumber with cream cheese and watercress, smoked Irish salmon and free range egg & dill salad, and – my personal favourite – honey baked Belfast ham with cheddar cheese and a tomato aubergine relish. Each sandwich was delicately assembled with just the right amount of filling and – of course – crust removed.
The next stage of our tea included three generous tiers of meticulously created sweets, from decadent miniature pistachio and coffee macarons to traditional scones with clotted cream and a jar of organic Armagh-made raspberry jam. My personal favourites featured on the three-layered cake stand included gateau Saint Honore, a lovely flaky cream puff filled with pistachio pastry cream and a pistachio caramel offering the perfect combination of crisp pastry, crunchy nuts and smooth cream for the perfect bite-sized treat.
Other sweets offered as an alternative to traditional high tea cakes are Titanic’s quirky take on an Oreo cookie, a whoopie pie consisting of crisp chocolate biscuits and a homemade vanilla cream centre for which I would happily make the return visit and a selection of layered mousses and custards served in translucent cups.
As if the endless tower of treats provided wasn’t enough, our afternoon concluded on a sweet note with a table-side cutting of a choice of three cakes including red velvet with cream cheese frosting, a chic take on banoffee in cake form, and a classic fruit cake. At this stage in the afternoon, starting to feel the sugar rush, I opted for the banana cake topped with caramel and crushed almonds, which was deliciously moist, and – thankfully – the icing was much less sweet than anticipated and offered a perfect ending to a gorgeous day at Titanic Belfast.
Because of the lovely details including intricate, uniform bites and a highly attentive and knowledgeable staff, I would highly recommend visiting Titanic Belfast for Afternoon Tea.
Starting at just £24 per person, the leisurely atmosphere and ambience including the world-famous staircase and incredibly talented house jazz band provide an atmosphere perfect for celebrating a special occasion or enjoying a long catch-up over nibbles. If, like myself, you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, the seemingly endless selection of cakes, mousses and scones can be a bit overwhelming, but by allowing yourself a leisurely afternoon, Titanic provides a perfect setting for a slow-paced, luxurious day out that acts as a reminder that tea is best enjoyed in good company and alongside some amazing nibbles.
Visit www.titanicbelfast.com for more information on Titanic Belfast’s Afternoon Teas.
By Brittany Breslin
Follow Brittany on her journey as a food reviewer for Belfast Times in her BBEats column.