Afternoon Tea at the Garden View Lounge

First some background information…I first had tea with my daughter at the Garden View about 10 years ago.  We enjoyed the experience so much that it became a must-do tradition on each and every trip we took to Disney World.  However, with all of the changes that had occurred in recent years, I had not been to tea here since December 2013.  Changes such as no longer allowing you to order items a la carte and a 40% price increase since 2013 in their standard 3 course tea package had kept me away.  And to add insult to injury, they no longer accept Tables in Wonderland for a 20% discount.  But my friends (Niki, Mike, Sally, Hunter, and Paula) all wanted to have Afternoon Tea so I decided to go with the flow and give it a try.

So Niki, Mike, Sally and I met up with Paula and Hunter in the lobby of the Grand Floridian and we checked in about 10 or 15 minutes early for our 2:30 reservation.  Our reservation was for a party of 5 but they said it would not be a problem to add Sally to our group.  So some of us found a seat in a comfy chair in the lobby to wait for our name to be called.  Others went to check out the nearby lobby shop.  Our 2:30 reservation time came and went, as did 2:45, and 3:00.  I thought maybe they had forgotten about us, but found that was not the case when checking in again at the desk.  Finally at about 3:15 (after we had been waiting for about an hour) we were seated, with little or no acknowledgement of our unusually long wait by the manager who seated us.  And our server, rather than welcoming us at the table, started out by informing us (in a not particularly nice manner) that they no longer accepted Tables in Wonderland.  This was not new information for us (as we keep tabs on most everything Disney dining related), but if it had been news then as a TIW member I would have appreciated a heads up when I checked in for my reservation…before waiting for an hour to be seated!

So we were not getting off to a great start here.  But all of that would be forgiven if the food was as good as it had been in the past.  So would  the theme of this tea now become “All’s well that ends well” or more like “What begins badly, ends badly?”  Read on to find out.

So here are photos of the menu we were presented when finally seated…

 

 

 

I believe most of us chose the Bedfordshire Tea, which includes 3 courses plus one pot of tea for $35.  I know though that Sally upgraded to the Derbyshire Tea and received a glass of champagne for an extra $15.

We all made our tea choices and were served our individual pots of tea covered with a pretty, velvet cozy to help keep our tea hot…

 

I chose one of the flavored black teas, the Enchanted Forest…

I enjoyed the fruity flavors of this tea (raspberry, strawberry, and blueberry), as well as a hint of vanilla.

Hunter demonstrated the proper “pinkie up” method for drinking his “special” tea (aka a Johnny Walker Black Label scotch on the rocks)…

He was even able to do a two-fisted pinkies up with his scotch in one hand and tea in the other…

Such talent!!! :thumbsup2

– Pinkie photos courtesy of Paula –

Now on to our food, which began with our first course of tea sandwiches…

 

 

This was described in the menu as a medley of finger sandwiches accompanied with berries, cheese and lavosh.  The finger sandwiches consisted of four small sandwiches: egg salad, curried chicken salad, cucumber and Boursin cheese, and an open-faced one with goat cheese and thin slices of yellow beets.  I liked all of the sandwich fillings except for the beet slices but the bread seemed a bit dried out…like the sandwiches had been sitting out for a long time.  In addition to the four sandwiches there was also fruit (red grapes and a couple of raspberries and blueberries) and two kinds of cheese (Sage Derby and Tillamook Cheddar) served with a lavosh cracker.  I didn’t really care for the sage derby but the cheddar was good.  I would have traded it though for a good English Stilton, which is what I was kind of expecting to be served here.  Probably my favorite thing on this plate though was the sweet onion tartlet.  These are like eating candy.  But overall, the first course was for me just okay.

The second and third courses were then served together on a tower…

This tower was shared by Paula and Niki since they both ordered the strawberries and creme for their third course.  [Thanks Paula for the photo, as I completely forgot to take any tower photos.]   As for the rest of us, Sally and I both chose the pastries so we shared a tower and Hunter and Mike also chose pastries and shared a tower.

So here was Course #2, which was the same for all of us except Paula, who requested a second scone in place of the jam tart…

Course #2 was a Strawberry Jam Tart and a Scone accompanied by lemon curd, apricot jam, and my favorite, Devonshire clotted cream.  As always, I enjoyed this course very much.

My third course and Sally’s were served together on one plate…

 

From this plate, Sally and I each got one Swan Cream Puff filled with white chocolate mousse, which was delicious…

 

We also each got one tasty Chocolate-covered Strawberry…

 

And two of these four Macarons, which were just okay…

 

The other two choices that we had for the third course were Strawberries & Creme or English Trifle (the flavor of which changes seasonally).  I don’t recall what the flavor of the trifle was that we were offered but it seems none of us were interested.

Paula and Niki chose the Strawberries & Creme though so I do have photos of that option…

I’ve had the fresh strawberries topped with whipped cream here several times and it’s always been good.  I don’t recall hearing any complaints from Niki or Paula, so I believe they enjoyed this.

However, although most of the food was pretty good, it wasn’t good enough to offset our hour long wait to be seated or warrant a 40% price increase and no discounts.  Therefore, Paula, Hunter, and I agreed that we have no need to return for Afternoon Tea on our next trip to Disney World.  I might give it another try in a few years, but sadly it’s been permanently retired from my Must-Do List.

 

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