Holiday Afternoon Tea at L’Espalier (Boston, MA)

Entrance to L'Espalier Interior of dining room
The legendary cheese cart
Entrance to L’Espalier; Interior of main dining room; the legendary cheese cart

Steps away from the luxurious hotel I stayed in Boston, The Mandarin Oriental, is the equally elegant, AAA Five-Diamond awarded restaurant (and James Beard Award to Chef Frank McClelland), L’Espalier. This restaurant is actually one floor above a bank. You would walk through the doors and be checked in with a host, then you get whisked up viewing the stately bank while riding up to the elegant dining room.

I had to have afternoon tea with them to see and taste how a fine dining restaurant would serve tea. I can tell you, their refined atmosphere with highly trained, professional staff does make it much different than what hotels serve. The food certainly is much more different as the kitchen plates these items à la minute and the flavor combinations are more interesting. Diners tend to be of the upper class, power elite, and the academia.

Hand-sewn green tea blossom Tea Nog & Blooming tea
Pouring Chef's Blend tea My cup of Chef's Blend tea
Tray of Holiday crackers
Presented with a pod of hand-sewn green tea blossom; my glass of Tea Nog and the bloomed hand-sewn tea; presented with a tray of holiday crackers

Holiday afternoon tea ($55 per adult; $35 per child) includes their holiday Tea Nog, along with a few of their seasonal inspired food. The tea nog is a gently spiced, holiday tea blend infused tea that has a little bit of rum to keep in the festive mood. Also, each guest receives a festive holiday cracker filled with little trinkets. My pot of tea I chose was a naturally sweet, earthy, fruity Chef’s Blend tea made of a blend of black teas from China, Sri Lanka and India.

Also, I was presented with a hand-sewn green tea blossom and a glass of hot water. The waiter instructed me to take my tea bundle and drop it into my glass and I would see the tea bloom within a few minutes. I ended up having is a beautiful and delicately flavored marigold, jasmine and Silver Needle green tea.

My savory course for afternoon tea with a flute of Tea Nog in the center

The food is presented as courses instead of tiers of treats in L’Espalier. The first plate contains savory items:

House smoked salmon with “everything” cream cheese on dill bread

English cucumber with watercress cheese on citrus bread

Lobster salad with “ocean persillade” in an Apple Street Farm deviled egg

Foie gras-quince and parsnip muffin

Warm ham and cheese croissant

The savory food were tasty. My favorites was the foie gras-quince parsnip muffin. The creamy foie gras, tart quince jelly and the warm, moist tender muffin was sublime. The deviled egg was great, especially the fact it’s dotted with deliciously briny caviar with the sweet lobster salad.

Dessert course of afternoon tea Pâte à choux swan with espresso Chantilly cream

The dessert plate was thoughtfully plated since portions weren’t too large and all the sweets weren’t too sweet. What was offered were:

Chocolate decadence with Oreo crumbs

Cinnamon raisin scone

Cranberry white-chocolate scone

Panna cotta

Pâte à choux swan with espresso Chantilly cream

Apricot frangipane cake

Vanilla-maple chantilly, chocolate-gingerbread crumbs, cherries

The panna cotta was arguably the best panna cotta I’ve had in the longest time, as the texture wasn’t too firm that I could enjoy its creaminess. The pâte à choux swan easily would get the attention since looks elegant and the choux was perfectly baked and the cream played up the light texture of the pastry. The scones were served warm and I liked the crisp edges. I’s great with the homemade apricot preserves, honey and clotted cream. If you want intense chocolate bites, the chocolate decadence cake is it. It almost tasted like pure dark chocolate mousse in a shape of a rectangular bonbon and crunchy chocolate crumbs.

If you want to have afternoon tea in a polished atmosphere, slightly ambitious fare, and where service is professional yet friendly, L’Espalier is it.

To view more photos of these visit, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE):

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774 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02199
Phone: (617) 262-3023


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.