Where to Have a British-Style Tea Party in Fort Worth

Pinkies up for a fancy-pants tea party in the middle of Cowtown.

Tea time in Texas typically involves a tall glass, lots of ice, and perhaps a front porch. But not at Six 10 Grille at the Ashton Hotel, where traditional afternoon tea, with its multicourse menu of tea sandwiches, light bites, scones and mini desserts, is served most Saturdays between 2 and 4 p.m. (The $45 per person price includes valet parking, and reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance.) The semi-formal affair provides a glimpse of British culture in Cowtown, from the warm hand towels offered prior to service, down to the heirloom fine bone china made in England.

After a flute of bubbly Champagne, the tea party begins with, naturally, the tea. Selections range from ginger peach oolong and Earl Grey to white pomegranate and, the runaway favorite at our table, coconut Assam, a black tea from India. Selections are limited to one per person; however, upon the server’s recommendation, each party member ordered differently, and teapots were shared so more than one could be sampled.

Afternoon tea newbies should note: the elegant tea strainer positioned at each table setting is not just a prop. Place it over the teacup before pouring hot steeping tea from the tiny pot. Otherwise, tea leaves will fall into the cup, leaving potential for a not-so-smooth sipping experience.

The first course of the four-course menu, which changes seasonally, began with creamy English pea soup garnished with a drizzle of lemon crème fraiche served in a tiny cup. Savory, warm and with a hint of mushroom flavor, the delightful amuse-bouche set the tone for the courses to come.

Next arrived a three-tiered tea sandwich tower with a small smorgasbord of bite-sized noshables arranged in picture-perfect fashion on gold-rimmed plates. At the top was pancetta-wrapped asparagus garnished with thyme dressing followed by various open-face sandwiches, including tarragon chicken salad, honey ham with brie and sliced apples, and caprese salad on focaccia. At the bottom were mini salmon croquettes and pine nut-topped spinach and feta in crispy phyllo dough.

Portions were one bite per person, and all went quickly in between continual sips of warm tea. And while more of the delectable nibbles would have been welcome, afternoon tea and its tiny accompanying menu isn’t intended to replace a full meal. History says Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, established the tradition after requiring an afternoon snack before the late evening dinner, which typically took place around 8 p.m.

Courses three and four catered to those with a serious sweet tooth. A basket of strawberry scones were presented with tart lemon curd, blackberry preserves and Devonshire cream – also known as clotted cream. The latter was fluffy, tangy, slightly sweet and very addicting. The scones would have sufficed, but a tray of additional desserts included mini banana tartlets, tall shot glasses filled with rich chocolate mousse and white chocolate-covered strawberries. All were divine, but the larger-sized portions of the sugary selections seemed slightly lopsided compared to those that were savory.

While there is no lunch or dinner service at Six 10 Grille anymore, breakfast is served daily until 10:30 a.m. The elegant dining room is typically quiet, making it ideal for patrons looking to eat in peace or even solo with a laptop and coffee. Dishes are on the pricier side, with entrees ranging from the $13 huevos rancheros (there are better, more authentic versions in town for much less) to the $16 steak and eggs “Stockyard” special served with potatoes or fruit.

The Ashton Hotel is most certainly a downtown Fort Worth treasure. Listed on the National Register of Historical Places, the destination dates back to 1915 when it was built as the home of The Fort Worth Club. After multiple owners and occupants, the building was purchased and redeveloped into The Ashton Hotel in 2001.


Location: 610 Main St., Fort Worth 76102
For Info: 817-332-0100,
theashtonhotel.com
What We Liked: The hotel’s ambiance and special occasion feel, along with the entire Saturday afternoon tea experience.
What We Didn’t: Pricy breakfast dishes that didn’t quite impress.
Our Recommendations: Visit for Saturday afternoon tea and take someone who enjoys good conversation over a light yet lengthy meal. Make reservations well in advance. And bring your sweet tooth.

photography by Alex Lepe