When the winds are blowing and the rain is pouring, there’s only one place to take shelter: the Palm Court at the Balmoral.
Waking up on one such dreich day, my friend immediately agreed to scratch our previous plans and book a table. As we entered in from the storm outside, we were immediately greeted into a calm oasis.
Time seems to stop as you take your seat, engulfed in lush velvet pillows and soft lighting. The air floats with hushed conversations and soft notes from the harpist on the balcony. It’s truly heaven on earth.
We ordered one afternoon tea tray to split between us, as trying to finish one off on our own usually leaves us waddling out afterwards.
The Palm Court has expanded their tea list since the last time I was there, including a lot more regional blends. We ordered the Balmoral Blend to start and switched halfway through to the smoked white tea, which had a wonderful peaty finish to it that I’ve never experienced in a tea before. If you go, be sure to try it!
Every season the menu changes, and this time we were greeted with an amuse bouche of butternut squash soup topped with roasted pumpkin seeds.
It was wonderfully creamy, perfectly spiced as to let the natural flavour of the squash shine through.
As soon as we finished licking the bowls, our main tray arrived.
The savoury tray at the Palm Court skews rather traditional. First up was a quiche lorraine and haggis bon bon, which were so delicious I had to order two more of!
Below were perfectly crisp cucumber and egg sandwiches, the latter in a fluffy brioche bun.
Lastly there was a trio of Scottish smoked salmon, chicken tikka, and bacon sandwiches. The tikka was a particular hit, gently spiced and not overly creamy.
Then, of course the scones. I opted for a fruit scone while my friend got the plain. Both were still warm from the oven, and served with homemade raspberry preserves and clotted cream.
…can you tell she liked it?
Finally, we were greeted with a trio of desserts.
The first was a dark chocolate and caramel tarte, topped with a fleck of edible gold leaf. It tasted like the best millionaire shortbread I’ve ever had. The second was a simple vanilla cake topped with raspberries and creme. And last, a pistachio cake filled with raspberry jam, which we agreed was hands down our favorite.
Those who have indulged in the afternoon tea at the Balmoral’s Palm Court are also given a special gift upon departure – a beautiful little tin of their Balmoral Blend and a pack of caramels.
If you’re ever in Edinburgh, this is the one place you truly cannot miss. While the sticker price is a bit of a shock, you can always share a tray between two people and leave feeling totally full. Every time I go here, I’m always amazed at how perfect everything is, from the service to the food and decor.
We sat for a while longer finishing our tea and catching up before heading back out into the windy streets, but left feeling totally rejuvenated, as cheesy as that may sound. For us, it was totally worth a little splurge for this every day luxury.