Editor’s note: Bella Supiana is working with JJ Kavanagh & Sons on a new series called ‘Tastes of Ireland’. She’ll be travelling to our destinations around Ireland and scouting out the best places to eat for hungry travellers. In this post she visits Athenaeum House Hotel, in Waterford.
This is the perfect Mother Day’s gift and with 13 bus services daily to Waterford City you can have some well deserved glasses of bubbly together 🙂
Athenaeum House Hotel, a 5 minute drive from Waterford City across the picturesque River Suir, offers magical weddings, superb food and gorgeous boutique rooms to rest yourself after an exciting day exploring Waterford. I heard they offered a smashing afternoon tea and I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend the middle of the day than sampling both sweet and savoury bites with a steamy cup of tea and a glass of bubbly prosecco!
Hotel manager, Kelly Power opened up the front door as we walked up the steps and into the glass walled porch. Welcomed with such warmth, I knew this was going to be a fantastic experience. Through the long high ceiling foyer, passing a table stand topped with granite and a black grand piano, the decor is elegant with charm just as a country house would be.
Michelle, our very attentive and knowledgeable waitress was awaiting us by the bar as we entered the long conservatory like dining room. The work of Mailo Power, artist and proprietor of Athenaeum was hanging on the walls with such cheerful vibrancy. I particularly took to the flow of the young girl in the red dress. The light was absolutely beautiful and the views of the vibrant green garden was truly Irish! With a sneak peak through the bushy trees and gentle moving river, I could see the multi coloured buildings dotted along the harbour.
Our coats were kindly taken off our shoulders and we were ushered to sit back and relax. Prosecco was popped open, glasses were filled and the table was graced with warming cups of tea and coffee along with a drooling array of afternoon classics. The selection of savoury sandwiches was highly impressive – slow roast chicken and Morteau sausage stuffing on brown bread, pulled pork with caramelised red onion relish and melted cheddar on a crisp baguette like round roll, Duncannon oak smoked salmon with lettuce and a ribbon of sliced cucumber on a rectangle of brown sliced pan and finally my favorite of house baked ham with mustard mayonnaise topped with a fresh sprig of parsley on a crusty white yeasted bread. Fresh and delicious… I bet if you were vegetarian, they would rustle up something just as tasty!
If you’re not already enthused, then their naughty array of six different sweet treats is out of this world! Creme brulee with a layer of caramel so crackingly good it puts Amelies Cafe des 2 Moulins to shame, an apple tart twist of stewed apple sandwiched between two layers of vanilla sponge, miniature spring like vanilla lemon cheesecake, knock-out chocolate brownie heaven, decadent chocolate mousse pots and pretty little swirls of meringue, kissed with fresh cream and fruit… Note to the reader, if I go missing, I’m probably in a corner of Athenaeum hotel, greedily devouring an afternoon tea for two… Just in case you’re wondering!
Their scones were absolutely flawless – crumbly on the outside and seriously fluffy on the inside, they were sprinkled with the perfect amount of icing sugar. Sous chef Deirdre, spoke about the time they spent perfecting their scone recipe as they know the importance of the simple pleasures in life. She expressed a sheer sense of pride in the food she puts her name to. A restaurant will always be successful if they have such passion driven chefs in the kitchen and that they seem graced with here in this house hotel.
In Greek mythology, Athenaeum is also known as ‘a place of excellence’ – and by god, they are serving up nothing less than outstanding, right here in the heart of southern Ireland. The service is absolutely superb. Attentive yet not too stuffy, fun and delivered with a sense of pride and passion. For an afternoon well spent, Athenaeum House Hotel is the place to be. A regular afternoon tea costs 15euro per person and for a more boozy treat, their sparkly afternoon tea is superb value at just 21euro.