The Old Course is a globally-renowned hotel, regarded for excellence and its most grand location overlooking the world-famous 'Old Course'; the "Home of Golf". Throughout my time at university, I had the pleasure of having Afternoon Tea at The Old Course, becoming particularly fond of their fabulously sensuous 'Vanilla Sensation' tea. The service was seamless and on more quiet days, one could set the experience at as leisurely a pace as one pleased.
I was therefore surprised by my final 'Graduation Tea' experience, where we were greeted the almost snobbish insistence that we had not booked Afternoon Tea for that day. Having made our way down to the hotel in heavy rain and high spirits, we were surprised by the waiter's response and demand for proof of our booking. Although we could see how busy the tearoom was, we were taken aback and attempted to check our booking online to no avail. There was no signal in that part of the hotel. Their response lacked empathy and only with insistence on our part did the waiter check his own booking system. It seemed we had booked for the day after, and although we ackowledged our responsibility for the confusion; we also knew that this would be our last opportunity to celebrate as a group. With reluctance (and having checked with the kitchen that another table could be catered for), the waiter offered to set us up in the adjacent library. The change over of waiters from there-on did not bypass our attention.
Our second waiter was extremely attentive but evidently nervous about serving us, making the experience a departure from previous Afternoon Tea services at The Old Course. However, as the service gained momentum, the waiter became more confident and we settled into the experience. The library had a snug feel to it, which on a cold, wet day in St Andrews felt comforting and luxurious. The three-tiered Afternoon Tea, complete with finger sandwiches, warm scones, and patisseries lived up to our expectations.
The sandwiches upheld traditional British flavours of cucumber, beef and horseradish and smoked salmon with cream cheese without being heavy, as well as being presented with a delicate finesse. The scones were served warm, and they crumbled lightly as you cut them open to layer on the deliciously fruity homemade jam and clotted cream, or vice-versa as one so chooses. The Old Course traditionally presents their scones on top of small Scotch pancakes which are lightly flavoured with lemon. Aside from showing another patisserie skill, I am not sure what the pancakes add to the Afternoon Tea experience which is already enticingly diverse. Finally, the selection of cakes, tarts and macaroons atop of the porcelain tier offer new flavours and textures; a chance for the patisserie chefs to show off their skills and explore new combinations. Although I am often full of sweet treats by the time I get to sample these delights, I am often tantalised by the selection and ask for a box to take them home.
The Old Course Afternoon Tea is evidently freshly prepared and served with professionalism daily by the hotel. The Traditional Afternoon Tea is not immodest, but if you are like me and cannot eat too much of a good thing, one can easily be shared and you can ask for an extra pot of tea for a small premium, and I would highly recommend it for a special treat on visiting St Andrews.