Jacqueline Monahan



By Jacqueline Monahan

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Afternoon Tea at Rí Rá Irish Pub at Mandalay Place

Rí Rá Irish Pub is full of dark wood furniture, and some pieces, like the bar, were custom-made with salvaged materials, restored in Ireland and shipped to Las Vegas.  Live music, an enormous drink list, and pub cuisine (yes, there’s fish and chips) add to the friendly atmosphere.

The pub’s name comes from the phrase "Rí Rá agus Ruaile Buaile", translating roughly as good fun, or any sociable activity that improves with fine food and a pint (Guinness, preferably, but don’t forget the whiskey).

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And don’t forget the tea.  You heard me.

There are few things more likely to get your humble correspondent more enraptured than the prospect of a formal tea (sigh).  I don’t mean formal as in tux and evening gown; I mean formal as in tea strainers, dainty savories and sweets, scones, cream or milk to add, and a lovely tea pot/tea cup pair that don’t necessarily have to match.
Yes, you can find that experience right here in Sin City, land of the yard-long beer glasses, penny slots, and porn flickers (those guys that pass out “escort” cards on the Strip).

Every day, starting at 1:00 p.m., Rí Rá Irish Pub at Mandalay Place offers Afternoon Tea, and variations of the elegant repast, to those in the know.  It’s not on the menu, and can even take the pub’s hostesses by surprise when asked about it.  Mine looked like a deer in the headlights and had to check out the possibility with management, who then admirably managed to provide one for us.

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The extended little finger is not required, and there are no teabags here.  Instead, strainers that span the teacup’s mouth await the “pour out” and catch all of the loose tea leaves before they can mingle with your brew.  The tea is served first (choose from six different varieties) before a three-tiered tower of treats (enough “t” for ya?) is presented with its delectable cargo of nosh-able niceties.

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The tea tray is delivered from the kitchen by a server who will explain its contents, which means it is advisable (though difficult) to politely sit through the descriptions instead of tearing at the lovely presentation in a sped-up attempt to stuff one’s mouth to chipmunk capacity.

Each level of the tower consists of a culinary neighborhood, with the first level containing savory finger sandwiches (see menu).  At mid-level there are scones (lightly sweetened biscuit-like cakes) with Devonshire cream and jam, and at the very top sit an assortment of sweets that take the form of tiny cheesecakes, macaroons, mini-éclairs, cookies, lemon bars, cupcakes, petit fours…you get the picture, and a very pretty one it is.

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It is good form to stir the tea gently, avoiding the clink of metal on porcelain.  One’s napkin should be on one’s nap, and no slurping, thank you very much. One should nibble at the food rather than attack it like helpless prey.  Of course, these “shoulds” are only suggestions.  Go ahead and gorge yourself if you’re so inclined; no one will mind.

There is a two-person minimum for Afternoon Tea (champagne can be added for an additional charge) but the Cream Tea (served only with scones) can be enjoyed by individuals going solo for the day.

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That such a genteel experience could be found in a pub in Las Vegas adds to the uniqueness and novelty of the event.  

Tea, after all, is a brew, too.