Meet the Team - Omar Ismail on Flawless Afternoon Tea Etiquette

Food & Drink

Many of our guests will instantly recognise the welcoming smile of Omar Ismail, Manager of Palm Court. Originally from Chittagong, Bangladesh, Omar has worked in various roles throughout The Balmoral, always providing humble and personal service to each guest who walks through our doors. Here, Omar speaks to us about the flawless Afternoon Tea etiquette that makes this British tradition so great. 


Tell us a little about your time at The Balmoral

I joined The Balmoral 2007 and have worked in many different roles during my time here. I have always felt inspired by the space, from my very first day working in Palm Court. I love speaking with people and the whole experience of Afternoon Tea really gives me the opportunity to get to know our guests, find out what they are celebrating and become a part of their special day - this is something I think The Balmoral really understands and values. 


What does a typical day look like for you?

It is all about ensuring the guests enter Palm Court and are swept off their feet from the moment we greet them at the door, to when we bid them farewell and everything in between. Interacting and getting to know your guests is so important. I can dive into their stories, find out what they are celebrating and share that experience with them. There is so much we can share with them; stories about the room, the teas and the décor. These are the moments I really enjoy, It makes me feel good to see our guests happy- it is instant gratification.


What do you think are the key components to the perfect Afternoon Tea etiquette?

I think Afternoon Tea is such a personal experience that each guest should enjoy it how they individually wish to. I do have my top tips to make sure the experience is the most decadent it possibly can be: 

1.   Be creative and have fun. It is very easy to pick a tea that you have tried before, but I recommend trying something completely different. Our team at Palm Court love when a guest asks for our recommendations. It is all about the storytelling and tradition of the teas and we have a wealth of knowledge to share. 

2.    Eat your food in the proper order, savoury first, followed by sweet. Start with sandwiches, then scones then move to sweets. Of course, Afternoon Tea must always be enjoyed in the PM. 

3.   Make sure your tea is loose leaf. This is a must to ensure you have the most premium tea on offer. 

4.   First tea, then milk. If you're ordering a green tea you won’t need any milk but a traditional English Breakfast tea is served with cold milk. 

5.    Add champagne. Afternoon tea is all about celebrating and what better way than with a glass of champagne. At Palm Court we serve Charles Heisick and it perfectly respects every ingredient we have on our menu, which makes a big difference.


Why do you think afternoon tea is so popular around the world?

Afternoon Tea is quintessentially British and can be enjoyed by everyone for almost any occasion. At Palm Court we have always understood that there is nothing more special than a celebratory Afternoon Tea. It's elegant, thoughtful and it’s the perfect way to bring loved ones together which is why it is so loved by many, of all ages. 


What do you think makes Palm Court such a unique spot for Afternoon Tea in the city?

Palm Court is a venue fit for royalty. Our menu features an incredible selection of loose-leaf teas and our team serves them like no other, pouring the teas tableside, giving guests a bit of theatre, which makes us truly unique. 

We have the honour of having our very own team of dedicated pastry chefs, creating and showcasing the finest pastries in town using the best of Scottish ingredients. Every item on our Afternoon Tea is freshly made each day in our dedicated pastry kitchen.

We also have our very own harpist playing from the gallery overlooking Palm Court which creates a beautifully serene environment. We always like to add an element of surprise, we want our guests to walk away with a lasting memory of their experience.


Finally, which tea is your favourite?

Personally I love the lemon blend. It’s a vibrant choice with Lemongrass from Sri Lanka and Malawi blended with some soft, smooth French lemon Verbena. This is the tea I always recommend.


Book a table beneath the sparkling chandelier of Palm Court and allow Omar to guide you through an unforgettable Afternoon Tea experience in the heart of Edinburgh. 

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