Lyrath Estate is just outside the lively town of Kilkenny.
Like so many other grand houses in Ireland, Lyrath has a colourful past going back to the 16th century.
To reach the hotel, you drive through well-maintained parkland with a pond and a stream.
Today only a small part of the original building remains (see image above) which is mainly used for wedding receptions.
A tasteful glass roof connects the old with the new part (see image below).
Afternoon Tea was served in the Atrium bar area.
It is not the cosiest spot in the hotel. All guests using the lifts pass through there which creates a slightly uneasy feeling.
The Atrium is just outside the main restaurant which would have been a much more appropriate and relaxing location.
The lack of atmosphere is compensated by the pleasant view over the lawn and fountain at the back of the hotel. Always try to get a table at the window.
The staff is attentive and was making sure we had no special dietary requirements.
The Afternoon Tea was served on a beautifully presented 3-tier stand (see image further down).
As usual, the savouries are at the bottom, with the scones above and the petit fours on top.
The sandwiches were all well prepared and tasty. Some of them (plain smoked salmon and cucumber) were not the most imaginative.
The little goat's cheese tarts and the focaccia bread stood out for me while my partner devoured both baked ham mini brioche burgers.
We turned our attention to the scones which came with raspberry preserve and clotted cream. Real creamy, smooth clotted cream.
You cannot beat a proper home baked scone with good jam and fresh cream.
The next tier provided no less than eight sweet treats. They all were excellent, but I particularly liked the passion fruit meringue pie and the caramel & chocolate tart.
You need a good appetite to be able to fit all the treats. They will exceed your daily sugar allowance, but this is the nature of an occasional treat.
For me, the petit fours and clotted cream were the highlights of the afternoon. The overall amount of food equals or even exceeds a lunch or dinner portion.
The first thing you notice about the tea menu is that it is well structured and balanced.
One of the better menus we have seen. This is most likely down to the supplier who probably provided the descriptions of the teas to make it more informative and attractive.
I ordered the white sweet pear and ginger while my partner asked for the classic Earl Grey.
The pyramid-shaped bag came individually packaged, presented on a small plate with a big pot of hot water.
It looks nice (see picture), but you have to question the necessity of the excessive packaging. It does nothing to the taste and is merely wasteful.
A pot of hot water for a black and a white tea is not the approach you want to see in a 5-star hotel. For the black tea, the water will be too cold while it might be too hot for the more delicate white Pai Mu Tan leaves.
Unfortunately, it is a common but infuriating habit to bring tea and water separately to the table for the customer to finish the job.
Nobody would serve tea like that at home why do they do it in hotels?
The content of the bag with the white tea was pleasant to drink. You get a vivid sweet pear taste with very subtle hints of ginger.
You cannot taste the more delicate Pai Mu Tan (Chinese type of white tea leaves - for more info see here) which is overpowered by the added pear aroma.
The amount of leaves in the bag is too much for just one cup. To avoid over brewing, I left them for 1-2 minutes in the water.
It works well with the short infusion time, and you get 3-4 flavoursome infusions with one bag.
Due to the colder water, the black Earl Grey lacked body and substance but was ok to drink.
With more attention to detail, it could have been a more enjoyable tea experience.
Like with all other reviews we did so far (including the ones not published) we see a pattern emerge.
A lot of work and attention goes into making and presenting the food part of Afternoon Teas. When it comes to the actual tea, the quality and the preparation does not match that of the food.
The price for the Afternoon Tea is €25 (with a glass Prosecco €36 or Champagne €42).
For the amount and the quality of savouries and sweets, this is entirely fair.
Lyrath is a 5-star hotel but having Afternoon Tea in the busy Atrium does not reflect this standard.
It feels a bit like an in-between solution, especially when there are better locations available.
The menu is very promising and offers a good selection of quality teas.
It is disheartening and annoying to see that the presentation of the teas is seemingly more important than the taste.
We would recommend ordering the green, white or herbal teas. They are much better suited to the hot water than the black teas which need boiling water to develop their full potential.
Would I recommend Lyrath for Afternoon Tea? Definitely.
The fair price and excellent food is an attractive package for a day out.
Despite the little snags we enjoyed our experience, the food and the view.
Get in there before the hotel management makes up their minds, move the Afternoon Tea into the stylish restaurant and hit you with a 5-star price.
House of Tea