Monday, May 25, 2015

Boston Eats: Afternoon Tea at the Athenaeum

After finding out that the housemasters were members of the Boston Athenaeum, I was hopeful that I'd be able to try out their members-only afternoon tea at some point.


And that day finally came in finals week, shortly after my defense.




Housed in a beautiful building that backs onto the first burying ground on the Freedom Trail, the Athenaeum is full of books and art.





Quite a charming setup!

Afternoon Tea at the Boston Athenaem

(offered to members only on a varied schedule, as of June 2015)

Ambiance - As is seen by the lack of photos, it wasn't a place where my camera was welcome or appropriate.  I was the youngest there by about 20 years, which isn't a bad thing, but it wasn't a place for the Instagram Generation.  However, it was for the most part a peaceful place to spend time, even though most guests didn't linger as long as I would have, given the choice.

Waitstaff - Mostly very nice, though there was one grouch.

Savory - All food was served buffet style, which I have mixed feelings about.  On one hand, I can have as many scones as I want.  On the other hand, it involved more walking in heels and trying not to drop things.  The stilton torte was a behemoth, and truly delicious.  The crudites were marvelous and varied, which is something that I also don't normally see at a tea, but they were such a nice addition.  Purple carrots, jicama, watermelon radishes...something new was appreciated.  The other two savory sandwiches were nice.  The butter and jam sandwich was a little odd to me, but maybe it's because I didn't grow up putting both between two slices of bread at the same time.

Sweet - The trifle was tasty and unexpected, but that was the only dessert option.

Scones, clotted cream, and jam - Clotted cream wasn't put out on the buffet until halfway through the meal, and the amount would have been appropriate for a single person!  The shmear I did taste on a scone was wonderful, though.  The scones were quite tasty, though only having ginger scones was a bit odd.  No jam to be seen, except on the jam sandwiches.

Tea quality -The tea was good and plentiful, but unlike every other tea that I've attended, I had to walk across the room to get it!  Walking back and forth with a nearly full cup of tea in heels every 20 minutes is not my idea of relaxing.  There were also only three varieties, which is much fewer than most other teas offered in Boston.

Cost - $75 per person

Overall - I'm so thankful the housemaster treated me to tea for a graduation gift - it was such a lovely afternoon!  But when I compare it to other teas where I'm able to just sit down and relax for a few hours, it does have a different feel.  I'll be honest: I like relaxing better.

The food was incredibly delicious, but missing a couple dessert options and clotted cream (the latter of which I judge a bit more harshly, in truth).  But, the variety of savory options and vegetables was most appreciated.

The atmosphere, and wandering around to look at art afterwards, and seeing the burying ground from the opposite side was fascinating.  If you ever have a chance to visit, I heartily recommend it!

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