Good to know
7 Days a Week:
Winter: 8.30am - 6.00pm
Summer: 8.30am - 8.30pm
Loose Leaf Tea
Breakfast All Day €4.90-€8.90
Soup and brown soda bread
Afternoon Tea and Cream Teas a Speciality
Full Afternoon Tea €16-€29.50(2 people)
€7 - €13 (2 people)
Afternoon Tea sandwiches
€3.50 - €4.90
€3.50 - €4.50
Children’s Welcome: Yes
Number of Covers: 50
Wheelchair Facilities: Yes
About The Restaurant
The old fashioned Afternoon Tea is proving very popular in Killarney of late, thanks to the arrival of “Miss Courtney’s Tearooms” in the town. The custom of Afternoon Tea goes back to the early 19th century and is generally attributed to Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford who complained of “having that sinking feeling” during late afternoon. At that time it was usual for the upper classes to take only two main meals a day, breakfast and dinner at 8 p.m. The Duchess used take tea and a snack in her boudoir during the afternoon to see her through. Ere long the practice moved to the drawingroom with invitations for friends to come and join her before walking in the fields or taking a fashionable promenade in Hyde Park. Traditional Afternoon Tea is still serious business in hotels and big department stores in London. In top notch places like The Ritz Hotel, you are advised to book 12 weeks in advance, and it will set you back £38.00. The Dorchester charges £33.50 whilst Afternoon Tea for two in Harrods’ Georgian Restaurant is £55 – and you can take home a doggy bag of uneaten pastries! In the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin it costs €29.50. In Miss Courtney’s it is €16 for one, and €29.50 for two people. A pretty precise affair, Afternoon Tea traditionally commences with delicate brown and white finger sandwiches, not a crust in sight, filled perhaps egg, prawn, smoked salmon, chicken, and cucumber. Warm scones ensue with jam and clotted cream, and finally a variety of pretty luscious pastries and maybe fruit cake. You should also, of course, have a choice of loose leaf teas – from Assam to Earl Grey to Lapsang Souchong.
Miss Courtney’s Tearoom is the brainchild of mother of two, Sandra Dunlea
Sandra’s great-aunt, Miss Margaret Courtney, first opened the doors of her confectionery, tea and grocery shop at No. 8 College Street in 1909. On her demise, Sandra’s grandmother, Peg Fleming, and subsequently her mother, Yvonne Quill, ran a café and bakery in the premises until 1999. The business had always passed down through the female side of the family but, even up to 6 months before she opened, Sandra was adamant she wasn’t doing it!! What will be will be and, in 2008, the 4th female generation, Sandra, re-opened the doors of 8 College Street as Miss Courtney’s Tearooms. In July she had the immense satisfaction of holding a fantastic old fashioned tea dance with 1930’s swing and lindyhop to celebrate 100 years of the family “tea” business.
Miss Courtney’s Tearooms is pretty and interesting. The stripped floorboards are painted white, the tables are covered in the prettiest of vintage table cloths, and the place is awash with gorgeous china tea sets, teapots, and tiered afternoon tea stands, glistening under pretty chandeliers! Sandra’s grandfather was very big into photography so they also had a huge collection of fabulous black and white glamorous photos of family and friends at parties and events. Heretofore, these treasures were packed away, safe but unseen, now they adorn the walls for everyone to enjoy.
Sandra says her grandmother was very precise and ladylike and always used china cups – I suppose all our grannies did – but nowadays so many china teasets lie unused understairs and in attics which is such a shame. She likes using antique items generally and had quite a collection of old china tea pots, tea sets, hand embroidered table cloths, tea strainers, cake plates and fabrics – some of which she bought in London. Indeed, she even drives a vintage 1968 Mk 11 Jaguar car, which she adores, and which also takes two baby seats now that she also has new baby Jake. Since the opening of Miss Courtney’s, many people have brought in their china teasets and embroidered cloths, which all have a history, as they prefer to see them in use rather than gathering dust.
It is not just “Afternoon Tea” at Miss Courtney’s but light breakfasts such as eggs and soldiers, waffles, and Eggs Benedict, Eggs Florentine, Smoked salmon with a poached egg on wholemeal toast – I love that - in fact they do breakfast all day – how wise. Sandwiches, salads and soup, are at lunchtime, such as avocado and mature cheddar with appley chutney, mayonnaise, fresh green leaves and sundried tomato or Irish beef with red onion chutney, fresh green leaves and sundried tomato. Sandwiches can be had on country loaf or brown soda bread. Salads include roast chicken with tomatoes and avocado on green leaves with a warm chorizo dress, warm Tiger prawns with avocado on mixed seasonal leaves with chilli and lime dressing and, roast beetroot, avocado and feta cheese on mixed leaves with an orange and lemon dressing. Afternoon tea sandwiches include cucumber, egg mayonnaise, mature cheddar, beef, chicken and smoked salmon. As to cakes, you can have lemon drizzle cake, blueberry sponge, chocolate cake with with fresh cream, coffee cake with cream, Bakewell tart, Victoria sandwiche, frosted fairy cakes and the like.
Sandra and her mum do most of the cooking from old family recipes and, failing that, use Gran’s copy of Mrs. Beeton’s cookery book – what else! They also source cakes from independent home bakers, many focusing also on old family recipes and offering a real showcase of local home baking.
No doubt 5th generation, Anna, will learn it all at the knee of her mother and grandmother – and no she wasn’t named after the Duchess of Bedford.
By the way, they also tell you on the menu how to read the tealeaves – fascinating.
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