Insider's Hot Spots: Tempo Tea, Four Seasons
Our weekly pick of the country's coolest watering holes and eateries by Vicki Notaro
Tempo Tea, Four Seasons
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
When you think Afternoon Tea, you normally think miniature cakes and crustless eggs and cress sambos arranged on a china three-tier cake stand, right? Well when it comes to the Four Seasons brand new take on an age old concept, it's time to think again.
The five star hotel is committed to challenging expectations, and with that in mind has created its Tempo Tea menu, available daily from 2.30-5.30pm. Inspired by a piece in their courtyard, 'Tempo rubato II' by Irish artist Michael Warren, the hotel's chef wanted to create something different.
You can choose just tea (from a wide menu), €36, add a cocktail for €45 and spruce it up with champagne for €50. I went for the champers option. The dining area has recently been revamped, and it's pretty chilled out - all opulent carpets and dark wood, but with sufficient bling to know you're in a luxury hotel. We ventured in on a rainy Saturday afternoon, only to find Kings of Leon having a drink two tables away - not too shabby.
The presentation of the food is very cool - a wooden stand divided into seven sections holds colourful creations but - much to my dismay - there's not a proper sambo in sight. The fare on offer is quite avant garde - from a foie gras and chocolate concoction to a mini cornetto filled with chicken mayo, this is not your standard lunch. Some of it I found deliciously weird, while other bits I just wasn't into. I did find myself longing for an ordinary old ham sangwich, or even just some more savoury options, but perhaps I'm just too used to the traditional, carb-heavy afternoon tea favourites.
The scones were mouthwatering, served with cream, jam and lemon curd, and the tea blends delicious - my companion was in raptures about his minty green variety. The champagne went down a treat too, in case you're wondering.
Overall, Tempo Tea is an interesting concept, and it's nice to see an old Dublin institution trying something a little different. It's reasonably enough priced considering the surroundings, and you might spot a celeb or two. However, I think it's something to try if you're feeling adventurous, rather than craving the familiar. As in, if you know your granny will be desperate for some cucumber sambos on her birthday, this isn't the place for her. A cool hen party though? Definitely.
What you would expect of a five star hotel
Faaaabulous, darling. Ornate, inviting, comfy chairs in the ladies and all.
Friendly and attentive, but I would have like to know a bit more about what I was eating - it wasn't explained as well as I would have liked.
Tea, cocktails or champers - the availability of cocktails was a nice twist.
In the 'hood
Bellamy's pub down the road in Ballsbridge is a well known Dublin haunt, and always full of American tourists as well as its regulars. Nice for a birra contrast!