Mary Jane enjoying her afternoon tea with prosecco.

Sweet and savory delights at the Oriel

There is something quite special and rather decadent about afternoon tea. There is a nice sense of occasion to popping on a nice outfit and heading out early to allow yourself to be wined and dined.

I had high hopes about doing it in one of Cork’s most reputable hotels. I always judge an eatery or hospitality experience on service first and from the moment of arrival, I knew I was in for a pleasant time as the staff were warm and friendly.

I was seated in the bistro and settled in at 3pm. The bar was buzzing with families celebrating occasions and couples enjoying a Saturday afternoon drink. It would seem that I was in the Ballincollig hotspot of celebration!

As we propped ourselves up on the cushions inside one of the restaurant’s booths, we began proceedings with a bubbling glass of prosecco, we ordered coffee and relaxed in the chilled atmosphere. As we were sipping our prosecco ( I added some juice to mine as it was mid-afternoon) and admiring the decor, our three tiers of delights arrived along with some coffee.

This vibrant selection of sweet and savoury treats tempted us, and my eyes already picked out my favourites – you do eat with your eyes first after all.

When having afternoon tea, I always opt for the savoury items first, so the divine chicken caesar wraps were a treat.

For fish lovers you had smoked salmon on brown bread and a selection of other freshly cut ones to take you fancy.

Next the mini scones with jam and cream ( I always do jam them cream) were indulgent but light and fluffy. There was also some moist banana bread and brownies.

Then we moved on to bitesize macarons and profiteroles. There were some divine cheesecakes and pastries too.

Everything was fresh and perfectly presented which adds to the sense of occasion. Are you seeing a theme here?

I think the fact that each item is dainty means that you can really indulge all of your senses and take your time to enjoy the experience as well as the sweetness. Great food never fails to bring me immense pleasure and I have to say that I couldn't finish it but luckily they have the option to take home anything you can’t and it tasted just as good the following day!

While I was there, I noticed a junior afternoon tea is available too which would be a lovely idea for a birthday. You need to prebook and you can do it from 2pm to 5pm.