Set in the lux surroundings of the Haddington House which overlooks Dún Laoghaire's foremost harbour, afternoon tea at this spot is well-worth repeating.
Why you should go?
With harbour-views, an interior rivalling the set of Moulin Rouge, and bites that are a challenger to a Michelin starred amuse-bouche offering there's a helluva lot of reasons to make a booking.
Who to book with?
Someone you need an overdue catchup with, or a close friend or family member that you don't mind spending time relaxing in each other's company with. It's a great shout for a pre-wedding breather, Mother's Day or even a birthday present.
Set the scene
Such is its size, walking towards The Haddington makes you feel like you are entering a principality in Dún Laoghaire. The place spans numbers 9-12 of Haddington Terrace. While it overlooks the sea, there's a couple of feet between the crush of the pier pavements and Haddington House. While one wing hosts the afternoon tea, the other is home to the excellent Italian restaurant and bar Oliveto, the rest houses a 40-bed boutique hotel. There's an amazing outdoor area in the walk-up, which is the ideal place for some Summer sundowners.
In 1954 several Victorian townhouses were restored and converted into the Kingston Hotel. In 2015 the people behind Oliveto took the space over and began an extensive refurb, which involved a repositioning of the layout. The name is a nod to the ladies finishing college which was once housed in the space and called "Haddington House".
The interior is one part Wes Anderson film set one part Moulin Rouge. It's lux, polished and mid-century in the finish, with some amazing flashings of eccentricity. Sometimes surroundings like this can make guests feel a little bit on edge with all the antiques and peacock feathers, but it's a really relaxing place to be.
All too often the food at afternoon tea can be woefully disappointing. Chefs sometimes take on a pastiche of what they think belongs on tiered plates, and create things like crust-less cucumber sandwiches, overly creamed profiteroles and scones that could knock you out with a gentle arm flex. That's what makes this afternoon tea at The Haddington House so special, you can tell it's been created by someone with an understanding of what people really want for tea, who realises that we want a hellova lot more from an afternoon. The food comes in three stages, the savoury plates are made up of little bite-sized mouthfuls with a lot of local ingredients that I think rivalled Chapter One's amuse-bouche selection. The second is a shortcrust scone that comes with cream and jam, the third a trio of desserts one more unctuous than the next.
The Afternoon tea kicks off with champagne, Granny and I were not drinking so we opted for a glass of non-alcoholic champagne called Kallonne, which was some of the best alcohol-free bubbles I've had in a long time. With the scones came the tea, which comes loose and strained into a China cup. There were some really interesting tea options available from the Queen of Cherry to Apple Crumble.
While the food is hard to match, the atmosphere was probably the highlight for me. It's a calming place, where you could very easily spend several hours admiring the view, the decor and lazily chatting. You emerge with an overwhelming restfulness and serenity, kind of akin to the feeling when you emerge from a spa treatment.
Serve was excellent, attentive, extremely personable and natural. My Granny who is in her 90s was extremely well catered for and looked after.
There is wheelchair access through one of the entrances, there are a couple of steps into the main entrance. My Granny was fine getting in and out, and there were staff on hand to hold the doors open.
There are vegan options available, alongside reusable napkins and menus, the menu also has a lot of locally sourced ingredients.
Warning: a trip to Haddington House will probably make you want to book a stay in the hotel and a reservation in Oliveto.
Where is it again?
Dún Laoghaire, 9-12 Haddington Terrace
How to keep up with them?
€50 per person which includes one glass of champagne or non-a champagne
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