If you gather a group of girlfriends together, chances are at
least a few of them are fans of Downton Abbey, PBS' popular period
Thankfully, for those of us who long to feel a bit more Lady
Mary than carpool lady, there's a chance to indulge in some
old-fashioned British fun - without a trip to Highclere
Every day, The Langham, Chicago offers a traditional afternoon
tea - Tiffin at The Langham - that brings to mind evening
gloves, parasols and meals cooked in faraway kitchens. While the
hotel's modern space couldn't be more different than Downton's
ornate hallways, the food echoes the delights Mrs. Patmore
regularly whips up on the show. And the wide variety of teas (try
the signature Langham Blend), served in sleek Wedgewood china,
transport you to the English countryside even while you're gazing
at a cityscape below.
Tea begins with a surprisingly delicious amuse-bouche to cleanse
your palate. Then it's time for the food, which ranges from sweet
to savory. Traditionalists will love Earl Grey raisin-soaked
scones, while more adventurous diners can try exotic smoked salmon
pinwheels topped with caviar or cucumber sandwiches garnished with
a bit of olive "soil." And everyone can agree that dessert's the
best part, with flavors that would please even the Dowager
The leisurely pace of the tea means there's lots of time for
gossip, and the comfortable plush seating invites elegant
relaxation. Groups of any size are welcome - we spied a
gathering of 10 - plus, as well as several smaller parties of
two or three.
The service is professional to a tee - Mr. Carson would be
proud - and every last server treats guests like the nobility
they aspire to be. It all makes for a fun British-flavored escape
for those of us who are more likely to don a baseball cap than a
tiara anytime soon.
Elizabeth Diffin is the senior editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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