Afternoon Tea in Philadelphia | Mary Cassatt Tea Room at The Rittenhouse Hotel

Thursday, August 1, 2013 0 No tags Permalink 0

There are a number of afternoon tea services in Philadelphia (Lounge at the Four Seasons, XIX at the Hyatt). But if you only have time for one, make it the Mary Cassatt Tea Room at The Rittenhouse Hotel.

The hotel just completed a $10M renovation which involved a complete facelift of the tea salon. Super exciting! High ceilings, a harpist that plays on the weekends, and a clean, elegant room that opens onto the breezy courtyard. Full tea service is $49 a person, add $12 for a glass of Marquis de la Tour Brut.

Shall we begin?

There are 13 loose leaf teas on the menu, sourced from three vendors. Le Palais des Thés supplies the ‘Blue of London’ Earl Grey. Nini from Tay Tea does the Rittenhouse Signature Blend (Ceylon bergamot, rose petals, cardamom, and borage), and a few others. Tealeaves rounds out the rest of the collection with everything from Darjeeling to Sencha and organic peppermint and chamomile infusions. I started with the signature blend while Zach had Earl Grey. 

Afternoon tea service is presented in two rounds. First come the savory and scones on three tiers. Finish all that and then sweets/petit fours follow on a separate set of tiers.

Meet the savories, clockwise from top:

 – Crimini Mushrooms with sun-dried tomato ricotta

 – Egg Salad on white bread with bacon and chives

 – Chicken Salad on kalamata olive focaccia with grapes and mustard

 – Beef Carpaccio on crostini with parmesan and arugula (occasionally substituted with beef tartare)

 – Lobster Salad on brioche with chives and artichokes (occasionally substituted with tuna tartare)

 – Smoked Salmon with goat cheese, tarragon, and bagel tuile

These were textbook perfect currant scones…

…still warm with golden tops, crisp and breaking into a delicate, butter-rich crumb.

One scone a person, served with lemon curd, raspberry preserves and clotted cream. One dollop of each. Heaven

We took a little break and then switched to peppermint infusions and English Breakfast for the sweets.  

How beautiful are these?

Colorful and balanced (so important!) between textures and flavors. Clockwise from top:

 – Almond and Pistachio with almond cake, orange-lemon confit, and pistachio cream

 – Mocha Chocolate Cake with chocolate buttercream and coffee infusion

 – Gianduja Tart with michael chocolate ganache and hazelnut-chocolate

 – Verbena Raspberry Tart with fresh raspberries and verbena meringue

 – Chibouste over almond macaroon with confit of pears and strawberries

 – Panna Cotta with lilikoi/passion fruit and coconut streusel

Bottom tier of petit fours, a collection of lavender macarons, brown butter shortbreads, mini-madelines, and cannelés.

We’ll be back! Hopefully this autumn when it’s cool enough to dine in the courtyard ^_^ 

P.S. We made two other stops in Philly right before afternoon tea. The first was to Federal Donuts (I’m one of those never-hungry-but-always-ready-to-eat people) for…

chicken wings seasoned with “shabazzi” (blend of green chile, dried fennel, and sumac) and a half-chicken with honey-ginger glaze. For dessert, two honey donuts, hehe. 

We walked some of it off at the Rodin Museum

…and look at this super furry yellow caterpillar we found in Rittenhouse Square Park. Most precious!  

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