This weekend, a girlfriend's holiday outing at the Townsend Hotel for afternoon tea turned into a delightful Christmas treat. Taking a break from the flurry of activity that comes with the season, tea time at the Birmingham hotel is a great way to slow down and indulge in the restorative powers of sweets and savories served in an elegant setting.
On Sunday, I took part in this wonderful afternoon tea along with my daughter, Rachel, and good friend, Joni. Upon arrival at the Townsend, we were escorted to the hotel’s tea lobby, which is decorated for the season with lighted garland and floral arrangements in hues of red and green. This room is permanently furnished with a glittering, crystal chandelier, velvety, plush couches and a working fireplace. On a chilly afternoon, the latter was as welcoming and warming as the tea.
But, even with all the grand amenities, the tea takes front and center stage and managed expertly under the supervision of Tea Director, Laura Klein. Laura showed us to our seats (right next to the fireplace!) and we shared her excitement as she introduced the new menu for the holidays.
We started the meal with orange cranberry scones served with marscapone cheese and lemon curd. Holiday tea offerings included a spice tea and an herbal berry, but when asked if we could begin with Earl Grey, our server, Ginger, did not hesitate to fulfill our request. Townsend serves Harney teas and freshly brews and decants the loose tea in bottomless pots.
The tea sandwich selection included poached pear and ricotta as well as the traditional cucumber and watercress. Rachel’s favorite was the smoked chicken salad sandwich on a mini roll. Although difficult to choose, I especially liked the smoked salmon as well as the asparagus with boursin mousse. The latter was simply delicious and the texture of the asparagus was perfect, prepared to be easily eaten on a bite-size portion.
With such grandeur to follow, the dessert menu held its own. The sweets plate offered a key lime tart, passion fruit mousse dome, a raspberry cheesecake pyramid and, the table favorite, a chocolate mousse in a miniature chocolate tea cup.
The price is $36.00 per person, which includes tax and gratuity. We considered it a true value; a scrumptious meal in elegant surroundings, warmed by the fireplace and the never ending supply of tea. An early Christmas present to us, but, happily, there’s even more to be enjoyed in the new year. Tea Director, Laura Klein, has a special tea event planned for every month in 2014. Keep watching the website, Townsend Hotel, for upcoming teas and The Detroit Tea Examiner for more information.