Sandwiches, Scones, & Choux, Oh My! Fancy Afternoon Tea At Dromoland Castle (Co. Clare, Ireland)
To me, one of the ultimate “fancy schmancy” experiences in certain countries is to do an afternoon tea. There’s something so charming and relaxing about the quiet clink of china, fragrant steam of perfectly-steeped tea, murmured conversations, and a mouthful of fluffy jam-topped scones.
So when planning my most recent Ireland roadtrip, I made sure to book a solo luxury afternoon tea at Dromoland Castle!
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Afternoon tea was once a social occasion for the upper classes, bridging lunch and (very late) dinner. At a typical afternoon tea you’ll be served fancy light sandwiches, patisserie, and scones with cream and jam. And, of course, tea. You can read more about why it’s afternoon tea, not “high tea” here.
Many people might think about booking this type of thing in London, but might not have thought about afternoon tea in Ireland (and I’m here to tell you that you definitely should).
So ladies and gentlemen, PINKIES OUT, and let’s talk about Dromoland Castle’s afternoon tea experience!
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What to expect from Dromoland Castle afternoon tea
I’ve done a much deeper post on Dromoland, because I also stayed one night there and absolutely loved it. I arrived a little later than I’d hoped, right when my tea time was scheduled. The staff greeted me warmly and whisked me in to get checked in so they could take my luggage and car.
I was able to freshen up in my room for a minute before finding my way to the Earl of Thomond restaurant. The décor is very beautiful and quite formal. I loved this little table they tucked me into, framed by this slightly unsure gentleman’s portrait and a cute little fireplace.
There were one or two other small parties doing the tea service, and then two larger parties (it was Communion weekend or something?). Pretty chill all around. One thing to consider, Dromoland does offer a champagne afternoon tea as well, if that’s up your alley (I believe it’s around €65 vs. €45 for the regular afternoon tea, as of 2022).
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Overall my experience was lovely, and the staff at Dromoland was great and very welcoming, including all the food service staff. The only weird thing in my afternoon tea experience was that I waited over 45 minutes before they served me anything but water and a little gazpacho amuse bouche.
It was quite strange, they told me at one point that my service would be ready in a few minutes (it ended up being almost 30 more), and the serving staff didn’t really say anything about it or why it was further delayed every time they came to fill up my water. I’m chalking it up to just an odd anomaly because everything else there was great, but it was a bummer because I hadn’t eaten all day and was starving.
Once we did get things kicked off, I ordered the wild cherry Ceylon tea. It was delicate and fragrant and absolutely lovely. And my tower of deliciousness finally came out, so I was able to dig in!
Years ago I emphatically stated that scones are life, and I stand by that statement!
The scones at Dromoland did not disappoint…they were SO soft and fluffy, almost melting in my mouth. It took all my willpower to eat the sandwiches and pastries, because I honestly could have just sat there and eaten like…18 scones.
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I knew I needed some *actual* sustenance, so made sure to try one of every sandwich they brought me. I’d made sure to note in my booking that I couldn’t eat pork or shellfish, and they were able to accommodate me.
There were several finger sandwich options, from egg salad to roast beef with pickles, a chicken caesar wrap to the smoked salmon on brown bread (and some kind of chicken sandwich I can’t recall). All were pretty good, though none blew my mind. I was thankful that for once, there wasn’t a cucumber sandwich!
But let’s be honest, I was here for the scones 🙂
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And then there’s the pastries! This is really the showpiece of any fancy afternoon tea, where the pastry chef gets to show off their skills. Traditionally there are many different elements, and they each show off multiple ingredients, flavors, and techniques.
The challenge with patisserie is that it often looks amazing, but the taste and texture are just okay (to me). I feel this way about a lot of French baking, to be honest.
In this case, the passion fruit or mango mousse (that red thing in the pic below) was a winner, as was the panna cotta (which didn’t have a panna cotta texture but was still delicious). The fruit tart was pretty good too. The presentation on the pastries was beautiful, but a lot of them were sweeter than I prefer.
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And now I just want some more scones…you won’t be surprised to hear that I didn’t make dinner reservations that night! I ended up having a salad with chicken around 8:00pm and called it a night.
You can see more about Dromoland’s afternoon tea at their website, including prices and availability. If you’re planning a stay at the castle (read my review here!), or will be in the vicinity of Co. Clare, the afternoon tea at Dromoland is a great experience and I highly recommend it!
Other splurge-y gourmet experiences you’ll love:
- A Fancy Afternoon Tea at London’s The Langham Hotel
- Lunch with a View: Vinum in Vila Nova de Gaia (Porto), Portugal
- Exploring Argentina’s Wine Country in Mendoza
- Devouring the Food of Istanbul’s Asian Side
- An Amazing Lunch At the Douro Valley’s Castas e Pratos
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