Dec 01, 2015 04:15PM
● By Dia
Amid the hustle and bustle of Cowtown at Christmastime is a quiet, cozy spot to enjoy a cup of tea. But not just any tea: afternoon tea, the English custom that began in the 1840s. You can find this ideal spot in the heart of downtown Ft. Worth tucked inside The Ashton Hotel, known as the jewel on Main Street. Here, guests are in- vited to take a respite from the busyness of the season and take part in a sweet and civilized pas- time.
Housed inside the The Ashton’s upscale res- taurant, SIX 10 Grille, is a charming, intimate Tea Room. It’s truly the perfect setting for afternoon tea with classical music drifting through the air and fine bone china from England resting atop each linen-bedecked table. A fireplace crackling in the corner creates a warm, cozy ambience. We think settling in for a cup of tea is just the way to relax after doing a little holiday shopping in Sundance Square.
The Ashton has hosted afternoon tea since the 39-room boutique hotel opened its doors a century ago. It offers Fall Tea on Saturday after- noons along with a special Teddy Bear Tea for children under 12, but we suggest partaking in the Holiday Tea.
It runs from 2 to 4 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from November 27 through Decem- ber 27. Whether a formal tea is already part of your family’s holiday tradition or you’re looking to do something special this year, you’re in for a treat at The Ashton.
The four-course feast includes the requisite assortment of crustless finger sandwiches, an ar- ray of scones and yuletide sweets plus a selection of some of Ft. Worth’s finest loose-leaf teas. This isn’t meant to be a quick break in your day; this is a ceremonious experience.
The Holiday Tea begins with a flute of festive champagne cocktail and the first course: Roasted Chestnut Soup with Sweet Potato Ribbons. When pureed, chestnuts become rich and creamy with a subtle but distinctive flavor. The sweet potato gives this sooth- ing bowl of seasonal comfort food just the right balance of savory and sweet.
With appetites officially warmed up, it’s time for the second course. The menu selections are many, ranging from Christmas tea sandwiches such as Smoked Salmon and Capered Mascarpone to Baked Brie and Lobster Bouchée. Each dainty, two-bite sandwich is soft and freshly baked. Although these sandwiches are small, they’re satisfying.
Part of the fun of tea time is the presentation, and at The Ash- ton, everything is served with all the pomp and circumstance you’d expect for English royalty. Food isn’t just brought out and placed in front of you; a server grandly presents a three-tiered cake stand. On this graceful culinary accouterment are china plates topped with delicate tea sandwiches. Bread and ingredients have never looked so dignified.
While savoring the bites, you have your choice of teas to sip. Options include White Pomegranate, Orange Blossom Oolong and Cherry Sencha among others, but the most-requested teas are the Coconut Assam and Vanilla Rose.
The Coconut Assam tea is robust and uplifting, a balance of bold black tea and subtly sweet coconut. It’s amazing on its own but particularly delicious when sweetened and combined with milk.
The Vanilla Rose tea will have you feeling warm and content. Rich and flavorful, it’s as invigorating as it is relaxing. Each cup is nicely brewed without any bitterness.
Because this is a feast, the experience continues with a third course of Buttermilk and Raspberry Scones. They’re delicate, freshly baked and served with Devonshire cream, lemon curd and strawberry preserves. The scones are warm and perfect- ly portioned. Every single bite is delicious.
The fourth course and final component of the Holiday Tea is a fanciful display of confections including Eggnog Truffles, Pistachio Macaroons and Chocolate Bon Bons. The most-favored sweets, though, are the Raspberry and Choco- late-Filled Shortbreads. These tasty gems consist of buttery shortbread stuffed with rich chocolate ganache. They’re an indulgence, but they’re worth it.
If a visit to The Ashton’s Holiday Tea feels like a fancy urban escape, it’s because it is. Ft. Worth definitely shows its refined side with this tea time. We recommend making reservations early (spots fill up fast) and savoring the magic of the season with a spot of tea. Pinkies up!