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…
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!
For the packaging obsessed (and I know there are many of you)…
Meet the holiday ladybugs. The green ones are filled with spiced (nutmeg and cinnamon!) caramel and the red bugs have crunchy almond and hazelnut praline.
They’re also doing Magical Mushrooms with maple caramel. Devour with care, the caramel is dangerously loose, decadent, and easy flowing.
The Enchanted Holiday! These seriously belong in another universe.
Fluttering butterflies with fresh mint ganache, more maple caramel mushrooms, and red wildflowers with vanilla-infused dark chocolate. So imaginative. For more wild ideas, check out the brandy-laced Magic Apples and Chocolate Oranges with Cointreau. I want to live in this world.
P.S. The ginger used in their signature chocolate collection comes from Molokai. Go Hawai’i!
The bus leaving back to NYC was scheduled to leave at 1pm and we woke up just before 12pm. And we were hungry. With no time for a proper breakfast, but with the much appreciated guidance of John, we headed to nearby White Dog Cafe to pick up morning pastries, and then next door for coffee.
Sorry, this post won’t be exciting as the last few :) I’m drained on the energy end with a few (positive!) changes in life, but I should be back up to speed by tomorrow! Maybe I’ll have chocolate cake for breakfast heheheh.
Hot coffee for all. And then a short bus ride back to NYC. It feel awesome to dash off for a weekend, but the feeling of returning to the city simply cannot be topped – it’s nothing short of exhilarating.
Thanks again to John for being a super, super amazing host :)
White Dog Cafe
3420 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
3426 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104