This may be hard to believe, but I’m not a very good Southern lady. I’ve never been to a debutante ball, my usual workday attire is jeans and a t-shirt and until last week, I had never been to afternoon tea. When Kelly and Jonathan from the Peabody invited me to join them for tea at Chez Philippe, I was excited to try something so classic.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I made my way to the Peabody Hotel for afternoon tea at Chez Philippe (one of the fanciest restaurants in town). In an effort to go all out, I dressed up (I even wore a very small string of vintage pearls).
Here’s how afternoon tea works. Make a reservation with Chez Philippe by 9 a.m. on the day you’d like to have tea. When you arrive, you order two kinds of tea, one to go with the sandwiches and one to go with dessert (I tried the very flavorful blackberry tea and the mint tea).
A tiered tray of mini-sandwiches is brought to the table. On the day I was there, the sandwiches were chicken salad, ham and apricot preserves, crab salad, salmon and cream cheese, and cucumber. I wasn’t quite sure how to eat the sandwiches. Was I supposed to pick them up and eat them with my fingers or transfer them to my plate, cut them up and eat them with my fork? I went for an awkward hybrid of the two methods that didn’t seem to offend anyone.
After we finished the miniature sandwiches, full-sized blueberry scones with marmalade and clotted cream were brought to the table. They’re not quite scones like you’d buy in a bakery. They’re a little more like biscuits.
Sometime between the sandwiches and the scones, the second cup of tea arrived. With it came a giant tiered tray full of shrunken desserts.
Let’s start at the top. There are chocolate dipped strawberries, red velvet cupcakes, chocolate boats filled with white chocolate mousse, orange and pistachio quiche things and raspberry lavender cheesecake. Everything on the tray was tasty, but I’m going to be dreaming about that raspberry lavender cheesecake for a long, long time. It was more like a mousse than a cheesecake and the lavender flavor was a perfect (and unassuming) complement to the raspberry.
Don’t let the tiny food fool you – afternoon tea will fill you up. I skipped lunch and still wound up taking some of the desserts home with me.
Afternoon Tea is definitely not an every day thing, but it’s great for special occasions. It would be a great mother’s day treat for your mom or grandma, a good afternoon meeting spot, or a great treat for a little girl. I would have loved afternoon tea as a kid (though, some of the food may be a bit sophisticated).
Are you a good Southern Lady or gent?
Wednesday – Saturday, 2 p.m – 3:30 p.m. $32.00 per person
149 Union Ave
Memphis, TN 38103