Foodie Events / Restaurants

Dallas’ Chicest Holiday Tea — Bringing Back Memories at The Adolphus Hotel

New Chef, Old Charms and Gingerbread Galore

BY // 12.19.19

He said, she said, tea said. Well, that was the plan. Me and my partner-in-crime and fellow editor, Lisa Collins Shaddock, headed to holiday tea at The Adolphus Hotel for some chit chat and tasty treats to celebrate the season.

We also thought perhaps the tea leaves might predict what was in store for us in 2020. Cheers to Lisa being so chic in a black and white polka-dotted dress with Oscar de la Renta earrings (a recent purchase). I just looked like a slightly elevated Mr. Rogers in my Thom Browne blue cardigan with a blue button-up underneath.

First off, the old school Dallas hotel’s halls were literally decked with boughs of holly. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the massive gingerbread “house.” In this case, not a house, but rather a re-creation of the beautiful hotel, right down to the swimming pool level with deck chairs and umbrellas. The hotel’s pastry team, under the leadership of executive pastry chef Ruben Toraño, worked for months to build the glorious holiday treat.

It’s made from 5215 gingerbread bricks, 10 gallons of icing and 288 pounds of powdered sugar with dimensions of 6 feet long, 3 feet wide and 4 1/2 feet tall.

As we made our way to the famed French Room restaurant, we passed the well-appointed Christmas tree which has to stand at well over 20 feet. This has become a holiday tradition to decorate the hotel for the holidays and last year PaperCity Dallas’ former editor-in-chief, Christina Geyer, wrote a love letter to the 2018 concolor fir from Manton, Michigan.

This is the first year that the holiday tea is led by The French Room’s executive chef Diego Fernandez. Originally born in Mexico City, Fernandez brings more than 15 years of experience in the culinary world with stints at The Ritz Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes and Chicago’s three-star Michelin mecca, Alinea. He learned his passion early on from his father who was a long-time chef himself.

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The French Room went through a stunning makeover and reopened to glittering applause back in 2017. Lisa and I were ooh’ing and ah’ing over how perfect a space the room was for a sophisticated afternoon of tea and treats.

“It immediately brought back childhood memories of holiday tea at The Drake in Chicago with my grandmother, mother and sister,” Lisa said of our perfectly proper afternoon. “It was so sweet to see tables with multiple generations carrying on the tradition.”

The Adolphus Hotel holiday tea.
The Adolphus Hotel holiday tea.

During each sitting, guests can enjoy a three-course menu of tea sandwiches, scones and pastries paired with loose leaf teas from local purveyor Zakti, which creates a special tea blend just for The Adolphus. The tea the started our experience was the Risheehat super premium Muscatel, but my favorite of the two from the afternoon was the Adolphus holiday Chai blend. The scent alone brought me and Lisa to a happy place.

I will be completely frank — I generally overload my caffeinated beverages with sweetener. However, I wanted to be a proper tea drinker on this day and did without which was completely fine as both teas brought intense layers of flavors.

The tiered serving stand was delivered after we indulged in some Duché de Longueville sparkling non-alcoholic cider (we decided not to indulge in champagne as we had every intention to come back to the office to write). The four finger sandwiches were: cured and smoked salmon; yogurt coronation chicken; ratatouille and Devonshire cheddar; and finally, the main staple of any tea, delicate cucumber slices laid over cream cheese, mint and chives. All were fabulous, but Lisa and I both were mad for the coronation chicken. The curry with the hint of chutney on top seemed so perfect we actually inquired if we could get some to go (no such luck).

From there we went on to Adolphus’ seasonal scones that were accompanied by English double cream and preserves, my favorite being the orange marmalade (just call me an anglophile who is a purist). Finally on to the main attraction for many tea aficionados, the sweet treats. For the holidays,  guests are presented with spiked egg nog tartlets, candy cane macarons, iced gingerbread petit fours, dark chocolate cinnamon orbs and miniature fruit cakes.

This apparently has been the most popular holiday tea in recent years. The room was packed with every generation wanting to continue or create a new tradition. Get your reservation now as holiday teas only run through December 29.

The Adolphus Hotel, 1321 Commerce Street. Reservations for holiday tea can be made by calling the reservation hotline at 214.651.3615.

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