Who says one can’t have a fabulous afternoon tea with friends even when original plans don’t pan out? We were on our way to one of the afternoon teas – one of the few luxury afternoon teas in Houston – only to find they somehow didn’t have our reservation and couldn’t possibly fit us in on what for them was a last-minute notice.

You have to understand – having tea with these friends is always one of the highlights of my year, the one, immovable, must-happen tea of all teas. So thanks to some quick thinking and knowledge of the area by my one friend, we met up at a local bistro, Elaine Nichols, and ended up substituting the traditional afternoon tea with cocktails (one of them tea-based), appetizers (made a great substitute for the savory course), and desserts. Was even able to end the meal with Earl Grey tea, the perfect compliment to the sweet desserts.

We settled for a couple of cocktails – the “Meghan Markle” had Darjeeling tea in it, while the “Easy Rider” had elderflower cordial – don’t think we could get more British tea-focused than that!

Splitting up several appetizers was the perfect way to enjoy a savory tea course – the cheese board, a second whipped ricotta cheese with honey and a gorgeous apricot chutney that had a little red pepper spice in it, and the kalamari for our third appetizer, all of them hitting the spot. I could eat that apricot chutney by the spoonful, it was so good!

We could then end with a sweet course, splitting up a scrumptious chocolate hazelnut cake with ice cream, and apple fritters with caramel sauce that were simply to die for.

The one other thing that made the event for us was the excellent service we had from a server who clearly didn’t really know what “afternoon tea” was or meant to us, but who humored us, made food and drink recommendations, and made it as special an experience for us as we would have had at any other luxury tea. Bravo, Meylis!

So next time you can’t get into the afternoon tea you’d originally planned, don’t hesitate to improvise – find another local bistro or restaurant or cafĂ© where you can share some nibbles with your friends, a great cocktail or cup or tea and enjoy the fellowship of good companions.

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