L’espalier is an expensive, fine-dining experience during the week, but in addition to their wine sommeliers, they also employ a tea sommelier! On the weekends they serve afternoon teas, featuring their own blends as well as other fine teas (some premium teas cost extra).
Although L’espalier is a pricey restaurant, their afternoon tea prices are fairly standard for tea service, with price points at $27 (served with cakes), $30 (served with cheese), $36 (served with cakes and sandwiches), and $50 (special tasting menus, themes vary).
We went for a “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.” The restaurant had a few small displays of vintage Alice in Wonderland decorations, and there were playing cards on the tables. Some tables had children, and it seemed like they were given hats. We were first served “drink me” bottles with freshly-made ginger ale (very spicy) and fruity iced tea. Then, we were brought glass goblets and flowering white tea balls to watch unfold. There were six teas to choose from, and we were able to try them all over the course of the meal— it is served one cup at a time, not from a pot, so that you can try more teas. Also this stops the common problem with tea service, that the pot gets totally overbrewed.
We each had five bite-sized sandwiches— salmon, cucumber, lobster (soo good), crab, and foie gras with black truffle. Next, we were each brought a plate with pastries, which included a candle and a small present for “a very happy unbirthday” (continuing the Mad Hatter theme). The sweets were an “eat me” lingonberry frangipane cake, lavendar panna cotta, chocolate cake with matcha sable, a cream puff swan filled with espresso Chantilly cream, a chocolate and apple mousse trifle, a merengue tea cup filled with bergamont Chantilly, and two small scones. Everything was great, especially the bergamont creme tea cup. Everything was just a few bites, but it was so rich that we were very full and satisfied by the end. On your way out, the staff give you a little treat from the pastry chef (homemade marshmallows, today) and a coupon for your next lunch visit.
Our favorite tea was the L’Espalier Afternoon Blend, which is a blend of black and green teas with jasmine, bergamont, and grapefruit. The sommelier says it’s the favorite of most people, and it will soon be renamed as the Anniversary Tea.