The Culloden have nailed the ritual of afternoon tea. From the service to the freshness and variety of the food on offer. Forget the usual offering of soggy sandwiches made during the breakfast service; there are a few interesting twists and turns that turn this feast into an unforgettable experience. Typically served in the Drawing Room, we had ours in two wing chairs because we couldn’t get enough of the view of the Lough.
We had no idea what to expect until the award-winning Thompson’s Finest tea trolley rolled into sight, followed by an explanation of the impressive array of teas.
In fact, you can drink whatever you like with this tea, from a glass of fizz to the Shortcross Gin experience. For those who are gluten intolerant, they’ve thought of you too, and there’s a special menu so those following a special diet can indulge too.
So what was on the three-tiers that arrived. Where to start?
On the top plate, all things dainty and sweet.
The glazed fruit boat was beautifully crisp, with a rich crème patisserie which disappeared in two bites. A salted caramel and banana cupcake was moist with caramel frosting. The chocolate and pistachio Madeleine was light with a buttercream filling and the small shot glasses were stuffed with sharp apple and tart blackberry jelly layers. A sail tuile sat on top.
On the next plate were the warmed buttermilk scones – cherry, fruit and plain. Served with butter and freshly whipped cream and local raspberry jam.
On the last plate were the savoury offerings which included an egg and spring onion roll on a soft, white bap. Ewing’s smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese on fresh granary bread. Savoury tarts are always a winner for me, and these were no exception. Fivemiletown Creamery Goats Cheese is mixed with sundried tomato and basil. James Givan’s ham is paired with a delicate tarragon mayonnaise on a white Irish batch loaf.
It was a real shame it had to come to an end, but as the saying goes, all good things do. If you struggle, you can remove any leftovers in the delicate box they’ll provide.
The tea is £29 per person. There’s also a Gluten Free tea available and an afternoon tea with a Shortcross Gin cocktail £35 per person.
Culloden Estate and Spa, Bangor Road, Holywood, Belfast, BT18 OEX
028 9042 1066