It is not hard to find an afternoon tea option in most cities today. But rarely does one offer such an experience that truly sends you into another time altogether.
When dining at the Biltmore Arizona for an ‘Afternoon Grand Tea’, one’s experience delightfully hosted by Kevin Michael Doyle, is nothing short of spectacular as he takes you on a truly relaxing journey into the high tea indulgence of the 1800s.
The Biltmore Arizona is the perfect setting for such an experience.
Since 1929, the Biltmore has been a property steeped in architectural history and grandeur amongst the stunning Phoenix landscape; with its influence of Frank Lloyd Wright clearly on display. Known simply as the “Jewel of the Desert”, much has taken place at this very location.
Almost every American President has rested their heads on the pillows here; Irving Berlin penned the iconic “White Christmas” ballad here too. Hollywood royalty of the likes of Marilyn Monroe loved it so much she supposedly claimed the swimming pool here to be her favourite. If one wants to appreciate history, this is clearly the place to do so.
A Girl’s Day Out For Afternoon Tea
I was brought to this Afternoon Tea in June by my good friend, and relative newcomer to Phoenix, Vera. She has a real talent for finding the best foodie experiences no matter where we are. When she suggested we come to the Biltmore, I knew we’d be in for a treat – and I wasn’t wrong!
We had two dining options available to us at the Biltmore, Arizona:
- Afternoon Grand Tea at a cost of $40 USD
- Royal Tea at a cost of $50 USD (which included a glass of Prosecco)
We decided on the Afternoon Grand Tea and were not left disappointed. As tea lovers, we knew we’d enjoy whatever blends were offered to us; but we were left truly surprised by how many tea choices there actually were – and that we were able to try three types during our experience.
We arrived at the Biltmore on a scorching June day – when the long running heatwave of around 120 degrees (48 degrees Celsius) days were in full force. So we were clearly very happy to enjoy the cooler temperatures inside once we entered!
The Afternoon Grand Tea Experience
We were greeted at the dining area of the Biltmore lobby, and were to shown to our table by Kevin.
Our experience began the minute we sat down, as he delicately explained the entire menu to us. He spoke with such authority and love for what we were about to enjoy that afternoon: from the finger sandwiches we would eat, the pastries we would enjoy and of course the various desserts which would be the crowning glory of the afternoon. We didn’t have to see the food to know this was going to be delicious…the menu made this clear for us.
What separated this experience to others we have had, is that Kevin explained such intrinsic details about the menu, highlighting how much thought and consideration goes into planning what guests actually eat and how it pairs to certain teas more than others. We learned how certain menu items were made, what they consisted of and where they were sourced from – which made eating all of this that much more meaningful to us.
We weren’t the only diners for Afternoon Tea that day, as other ladies enjoyed an afternoon out just like us. There was a baby shower for one lady, and a bachelorette tea (with prosecco of course!) for another. The vibe here was complete elegance and perfect for those occasions.
Our Afternoon Grand Tea Menu
Our menu for the Afternoon Grand Tea consisted of the following items:
- Honey Chipotle Glazed Ham with Avocado Cilantro Crema Aioli
- Mama’s Deviled Egg Salad with Tiny Tomatoes on Pumpernickel Bread
- Shaved Roasted Chicken with Lemon & Lime Zest Aioli & Micro Cilantro
- Mint & Garlic Hummus with Grilled Zucchini & Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- Smoked Salmon & Shaved Cucumber with Chive & Caper Cream Cheese on Brioche.
- Pistachio Apricot Sable Cookie
- White Chocolate Kumquat Scones
*Served with Denvonshire Clotted Cream, Lemon Curd, Apricot and Raspberry Preserves.
- Blackberry White Cheesecake
- Fresh Fruit Tart
- Coconut Cream Tart
- Oven Roasted Pineapple over Cup Custard
- Kiwi White Chocolate Mousse Cup
So What Was Our Conclusion On Each Section?
The sandwiches were all delicious. There was nothing that we didn’t like and they were quite cute cut into delicate fingers. Even for a non-seafood eater like myself, the Smoked Salmon and Shaved Cucumber was actually really delicious. I would definitely eat it again. It was not an obvious seafood taste, but the smoked aspect really made me like it a lot.
Highlights for us were the Shaved Roasted Chicken Sandwich & Honey Chipotle Glazed Ham Sandwich. Though the traditional tea sandwich; Mama’s Devilled Egg Salad was also quite good.
I love scones. I love chocolate. Anytime I get to have scones with jam and cream (especially cream imported from England) it’s a winner in my book. The scones at the Biltmore were absolutely delicious, they were crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside – and white chocolate is always a treat for me.
The pleasant surprise was how amazing the Pistachio Apricot Sable Cookie was. I could have eaten more of those. Adding lemon curd to the cookie was also something which enhanced the pastry even more. Delicious!
Dessert is always hard to pick favourites. There are so many to choose from!
So where do I begin…how about just with them all?
The Blackberry White Cheesecake was really good! I am a cheesecake fanatic, so I know what I like and what I don’t. The blackberry gave it a real fruity taste and the blackberry on top cemented it even more.
Coconut Cream Tart’s sound like a little fluffy piece of heaven. And in this case, they were. The aspect that made this work was the crispiness of the base against the creamy coconut topping. I love coconut cream, and I could have eaten these forever.
Kiwi White Chocolate Mousse Cup was a bite-sized piece of deliciousness. The kiwi was well balanced against the mousse, but it was honestly the white chocolate cup that made this one to remember…biting into that cup and finding the contrast of the kiwi and mousse…wow is an understatement.
Oven Roasted Pineapple over Cup Custard I honestly wasn’t sure about what I would think of this one. I love both pineapple and custard. But would I like roasted pineapple and custard together? Yes, apparently I do. It was amazing. A very pleasant surprise!
Fresh Fruit Tart This was the crowing glory for Vera and myself. Like the coconut cream, the contrast of a crisp base with a creamy filling inside was lovely. But those tart raspberries covered lightly in pistachios took this to another level. It was an explosion of so many flavours that I am glad I ate the tart in 3 pieces – so I was able to fully enjoy each bite. I still think about this one months later. The raspberries truly made this dessert.
We drank our tea, using German made white porcelain made by Villeroy & Boch which was a nice touch to this afternoon. The white against the vibrant florals really gave us that high tea feeling. It felt pretty yet understated.
Kevin was really helpful as he assisted us with recommendations for our tea, which we drank over the 2-3 hours we were there.
We began our tea journey with a Blackcurrant Tea, which was an appropriately sweet black tea infused with blackcurrants and blackberry leaves.
Our second tea was the Swiss Apple, which was a Herbal tea and consisted of tastes of crisp apples, dark alpine chocolate and cinnamon.
Our final tea was one we tried on ice, rather than hot because it was so hot out, and because we ate all of our food by then…it was so delicious! Kevin brewed us the Green Mango Peach tea, which was a crisp green tea blended with honey bush, mango and peach, right at our table which he served in plastic travel cups over ice. We drank this as we explored the grounds of the Biltmore, and it made that so much more bearable and sweet!
It was a fabulous ending to our journey.
If you are looking for a nice afternoon in Phoenix, this is all you need. If you are celebrating a special occasion or just catching up with friends, this is an option that you will always remember.
I can’t wait to return to Phoenix so I can return to the Biltmore for another afternoon tea…and maybe next time we choose to stay there and get the full experience that this property has to offer. Our little snapshot here was just incredible.
If you are visiting Arizona, why not check out all the amazing things you can see in Page, Arizona?
If you love tea as much as I do, why not check out how much tea is part of the culture in Turkey?