We recently took a trip to Belfast city centre and to the popular Europa Hotel for some afternoon tea. It is believed that the tradition of afternoon tea dates back to the early 19th century when Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford was left feeling hungry in late afternoon, and so she had bread & butter and cakes to help tie her over until the normal evening meal time of 8pm – 9pm. Afternoon tea has continued to grow in popularity and has become a British institution in recent years. Indeed, many tourists flock to parts of the UK to enjoy afternoon tea, in the same way that many go to Spain to enjoy a delicious serving of tapas. Afternoon tea in Northern Ireland has become an extremely lucrative business in recent years, no more so than in our capital city Belfast. With so many hotels and restaurants competing to entertain guests with afternoon tea, we thought we’d check out the offering at the popular Europa Hotel which is a member of the Hastings Hotel Group.
Europa Belfast Afternoon Tea:
Afternoon tea at the Europa Hotel is served every day from 2pm – 5pm with a resident pianist every Saturday. You can also enjoy a glass of sparkling wine or champagne with your afternoon tea, but as we had a trip back to Newcastle, it was tea and coffee for us, unfortunately 🙁
Afternoon tea in the Europa is served in the stunning Piano Lounge and if you’re lucky like we were, you may get a seat by the window overlooking Belfast’s Great Victoria Street. We went to the Europa on a Sunday for afternoon tea and it was relatively quiet which was good, and this ensured the service we received was simply perfect! We had been informed that the previous day had over 200 servings for afternoon tea, so if you’re looking for a quieter dining experience, it may be best to avoid visiting on a Saturday.
The tea and coffee:
After being seated we had a quick look through the menu and selected our tea and coffee. The great thing about afternoon tea at the Europa, and something that you won’t get in many hotels in Belfast is that you get free refills of tea and coffee. This allows you to really enjoy the relaxed environment that comes with the afternoon dining experience. Our drink of choice was a latte and a Florida Fruits tea. The Florida Fruit tea was extremely refreshing and was a blend of orange, apple, papaya and rose bud seeds. It was an explosion of flavours and was enjoyable either warm or cold. Would certainly recommend trying this if you are a fan of fruit teas and plan to visit the Europa for afternoon tea in the future.
The sandwiches and scones:
The afternoon tea was served relatively quick, and as there was only one warm thing on the platter, you wouldn’t really expect to have to wait too long to start dining. The sandwiches included spring onion, egg and rocket; Ballybrie with roasted red pepper and a caramelised onion marmalade; thyme roasted chicken with a lemon mayonnaise and a honey roast ham with cress and truffle aioli. There was also a smoked salmon, cream cheese and pickled cucumber sandwich which we decided not to take as neither of us are fans of salmon. The sandwiches certainly set the meal up nicely although we weren’t that fond of the truffle aioli that accompanied the roast ham. There were also two very tasty small savoury puffs which accompanied the sandwiches.
After the sandwiches we moved onto the scones which included a warm cherry and toasted coconut scone; and a sultana and apricot scone. This was accompanied by a homemade beetroot and sun-dried cranberry cake with a zesty lemon frosting. The scones were quite warm and each table had jam, butter and cream, to serve with the scones. This was the highlight of the afternoon tea for us, as both the cake and scones were delicious, and expertly baked.
A selection of pastries to complete the meal:
The final part of any afternoon tea serving is the pastry section, and having worked our way through the sandwiches and scones we couldn’t wait to get tucked into the sweet pastries. The selection of pastries included a toasted coconut bon bon; a queen of puddings; a mini Victoria sponge; and a chocolate and orange cake. This was a great way to finish the afternoon tea and while the chocolate and orange cake may be quite rich for some people, the Victoria sponge and queen of puddings were a perfectly crowning way to finish the meal.
This was certainly an experience we enjoyed, and at only £22 per person, was well worth the money. You can view the Europa afternoon tea menu here.
We look forward to our next dining experience in the Europa, and also trying out some of Belfast’s other popular hangouts for afternoon tea.
Have you any recommendations?
Have you enjoyed a memorable afternoon tea experience anywhere in Northern Ireland? We’d love to hear your recommendations of places to visit to try out their afternoon tea menu. Let us know your favourites by commenting below or sharing with us on Facebook and Twitter.