Not one to play with dolls or dream of ponies (seriously, girls, the horsey fantasies are sick), I preferred to play war games with my best boy buds and climb trees as a child. But despite being a tomboy, I did fancy breaking out the tea set every once in a while to serve my stuffed animals a proper, if but imaginary, afternoon tea.
If you were once a little girl (are there any boys out there who played tea?), you can live out your childhood right in downtown Wilmington in Hotel du Pont's Lobby Lounge. That's right! The stodgy and elegant, rich-grandparent-approved Hotel du Pont serves up afternoon tea and little girl fantasies on weekend afternoons. You don't even know how giddy I was to finally make a reservation for a proper afternoon tea and strike though an item that's been on my to-do list for years.
Afternoon tea with dainty tea sandwiches, scones, petit fours, and, lets not forget, tea is such a simple nicety that everyone - stuffed animals, little girls, women, old dames, and even boys and men - should take the time to enjoy it's frivolity.
We selected the cheapest ($18 per person) of the three tea services which include tea, tea sandwiches, scones, and petit fours. The two other services are identical to the service we chose, but include champagne and chambord (I believe priced at $23 and $28 per person).
After choosing one of a selection of loose leaf teas printed on the menu, a tea pot filled with tea leaves and hot water is brought to your table. You then place the strainer over the cup and pour yourself some tea. The very attentive servers will refill your tea pot as you drink it down.
There is no specifying of which tea sandwiches are brought to your table, but the servers kindly removed the chicken salad sandwich from our plates (tables of three or more have their tea sandwiches brought to the table on a tiered stand), and returned with a few repeats of tea sandwiches. On our plates were smoked salmon sandwiches, watercress and Boursin cheese sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, and roasted pepper sandwiches. Man, do I love tea sandwiches. So simple, yet so classy!After polishing off the teas sandwiches, a basket with two different scones arrived with a tee-tiny pot of strawberry preserves and a small plate of Devonshire clotted cream and lemon clotted cream. The larger dried apricot and walnut scone was sweeter than the small currant scone, and the clotted cream was an indulgence that I would never eat alone at home.
Believe it or not, at this point we were actually stuffed. Afternoon tea is quite filling, so big boys don't shy away if you think the servings are dainty. Finally, we got the tiered stand! Presentation is everything. Little cones filled with cream and topped with a blueberry, the tiniest madelines you've ever seen, lemon jam tarts topped with strawberry mousse, towers of chocolate and chocolate mousse, strawberry jam tarts topped with strawberry mousse, and chocolate dipped almond macaroons - we ate everything!
I then died and went to little girl heaven.
Best part - other than revisiting a childhood fantasy - was watching a darling little girl slathering gobs of preserves and cream on a scone while exclaiming to her grandmother,"I want to live here forrreeeever...because it's fancy." Me too, me too.
Afternoon tea is served on Saturday and Sunday at 3:00, 3:30, and 4:00 in the Lobby Lounge. This means you need a reservation, but I have no idea how anyone on the reservation list actually got their reservation. We called on three separate days at many different times of the day and could never get anyone to pick up the phone when we were redirected to wherever it is you're redirected to make reservations. We finally told the general operator our troubles, and the operator took down our info and promised to walk our reservation over. Someone dropped the ball somewhere, and when we arrived we did not have a table. But the excellent wait staff prepared us a table lickity-split. This frazzled the wait staff a little because they only prepare so many tables and make so many sandwiches, so any unexpected guests throw a cog in the wheel. Make a reservation, but good luck!
And I'm sure you've heard of the coats-required dress code of Hotel du Pont's more formal dining room, The Green Room. Tomboys and haters of formal wear will be glad to know that the Lobby Lounge only recommends business casual attire.
Afternoon Tea in the Lobby Lounge at Hotel du Pont
11th and Market Streets, Wilmington, DE, 19801
Sat. and Sun.: 3:00, 3:30, and 4:00 p.m.
business casual attire