There is a special charm in the experience of an afternoon tea. Its delicate nature and assortment of small surprises invites socialising and sharing, and one can’t help but feel indulged as a tower of treats arrives at the table.
The new Sunday afternoon tea at Ferrycarrig Hotel in Wexford offers a classic and inviting take of the mid-day favourite, which guests and visitors can enjoy in the elegant surroundings of the multi-award winning Reeds Restaurant.
We arrived eagerly at two o’clock and were the first ones in, although not for long. Even before we had had a look at the menus, the stunning views of the River Slaney were already a great start.
We were promptly greeted and our tea order was taken — loose Darjeeling for my guest and decaf black for myself. The porcelain set in which it arrived was ornate and refined, and as the experience properly began, so did the live piano music selected to enhance the occasion.
For those wishing to add some bubbles to the occasion, there’s Prosecco, Crémant Rosé and Champagne to choose from, as well as an in-house twist of the popular Bellini cocktail, with Earl Grey and grapefruit. We tried this last one, and agreed on how the bitter kick of both ingredients contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the usual Bellini.
As glasses were clinking, food was making its way. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve done afternoon tea, it is always a wow moment when I feel like Belle and sing Disney’s Be Our Guest in my head. Our server kindly described all the treats presented and left us to make our way through the collection.
First stop, savoury station. This featured five tasty and distinctive little sandwiches: Truffle chicken mayonnaise in brioche bun, Ballyhack smoked salmon with pickled cucumber on Guinness bread, egg and chive mayonnaise on white bread, cooked ham with tomato relish, and a warm Irish pork and sausage roll.
They all had their charm, from the simple yet comforting ham mini-sambo or the eggs and chive, to the more upscale quenelle of smoked salmon, each bite understood the assignment. If I had to pick a favourite, however, I’d go with the pork and apple sausage roll, unexpected on an afternoon tea, yet flavourful and with a perfectly flaky pastry. My guest’s top pick was the chicken on a brioche bun.
And then there were the sweets. A colourful parade of contrasting flavours and textures set to pamper your sweet tooth as well as your eyes. I believe that the first cake one bites on an afternoon tea says a little bit about one’s personality. Do you go for the brightest and most colourful treat first, or do you instinctively start with a familiar favourite? Citrus first or straight into the chocolate?
I went for the Battenberg cake first. It was so neatly put together and pretty that it almost looked like a toy. Yes, sometimes I eat with my eyes first. Then came the praline chocolate and hazelnut truffle, think of it as the handmade answer to a Ferrero Rocher. So. Crunchy. Then I was compelled to go for the big red button, or should I say, the mirror strawberry cheesecake. A glossy, vibrant, creamy surprise as I’m not usually a cheesecake person, but in this small format and with such a lovely texture, it ended up being one of my favourites.
The next one was my all-time favourite dessert, so expectations had built up. It was a lemon curd tart with white chocolate and berry mousse. The base was delicate and with the right crumble, the curd was on point, neither too sweet nor too sour and smooth as jazz. I loved it.
Because it promised to be the strongest flavour, I saved the triple chocolate and hazelnut brownie for last. If this had been a rock concert, this treat would have been the sweet, loud, emotional power ballad at the end where fans hold up their lighters.
And after that of course, comes the encore. Mind you, these portions look small but as an ensemble they are filling. So after a conversation-filled break, we went back to the homemade scones, served with whipped cream and Wexford preserve.
The Sunday Afternoon Tea at Ferrycarrig Hotel is served weekly between 2:00 to 4:00pm and you can book it as part of your stay, or on its own. Besides their main menu, they offer a gluten-free and a vegan variation, with bespoke dishes.
Ferrycarrig Hotel is a quick five-minute drive from Wexford, yet its green surroundings and river views will make you feel in a bubble of tranquillity, so it is convenient to get there yet it feels like a proper break. If you go for their afternoon tea, expect a warm and friendly atmosphere that is refined and lively, with music and a view. And of course, a delicious variety of flavours.
At a very reasonable €25 per person, Sunday Afternoon Tea at Ferrycarrig not only offers excellent quality, but it is also one of the best value afternoon tea experiences in Ireland, if not the best.
Wexford, Co. Wexford
WRITTEN BY GABY GUEDEZ