Tuesday 28 November 2023

Festive Afternoon Tea at Grandpa Greene's

Manchester is certainly not lacking in festive cheer at this time of year, but if the idea of wrestling your way through its famous markets sounds like your idea of a nightmare before Christmas, we may have found a perfect alternative that’s just a 40 minute drive outside of the city centre.

We’ve been eyeing up Grandpa Greene’s sweet treats ever since we saw its heavenly-looking Easter hot chocolates earlier this year - yes, that is a full chocolate egg inside that cup. So when we saw the Oldham-based cafe had launched its festive afternoon tea, we quickly booked ourselves a spot for a wintry Monday afternoon. 

Grandpa Greene's has two locations in close proximity but its afternoon tea is reserved for its Ice Cream Parlour and Café Bar hidden in the hills of Diggle, Saddleworth. While the cafe has become known for its canalside Igloo Village, we chose to eat in the Indoor Garden Room which gives you cosy countryside views in a toasty setting that’s akin to your traditional farm shop or garden centre cafe. However, the dining pods appeared incredibly popular during our visit, and it’s worth bearing in mind that if you do decide to opt for tea in a pod, you will likely be sharing with other guests unless reserving space for a large group.

Afternoon tea is served with a choice of tea or coffee, plus a cup of hot chocolate complete with cream and marshmallows. We went for a cappuccino and a latte, both served in large, signature GG’s green cups and saucers.

Food arrives on a mini picnic bench style tea stand, and it is probably the most festive-looking picnic you’ll ever see. No item has been spared a sprinkling of festive sugar or indulgent chocolate coating. 

To start, there are five sandwiches each, presented in an open style with fillings including turkey and cranberry, egg mayonnaise, cucumber and cream cheese, tuna, and cheese and pickle. We could have happily eaten ten of the turkey and cranberry alone.

Traditional fruit scones come paired with individual pots of jam and cream for each person, which is always a win in our books. The scones were a little difficult to slice into, however, they were a good generous size, particularly given the smorgasbord of sweets that comes next.

Grandpa Greene’s festive afternoon tea is exactly what you’d get if you asked the prop designer on a Hallmark Christmas movie to dream up the cake display for a small town shop window - it has everything, and everything is covered in chocolate and sprinkles. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the mini gingerbread people peeping out of a pair of glass bottles filled with chocolate cream milkshake infused with ginger. Elsewhere you’ll find a stack of blondie bites and brownies topped with chocolate orange slices, and Oreo cookies dipped in more chocolate and rainbow sprinkles. You’ll also find mini mince pies, chocolate coins, wafer biscuits, and strawberries dipped in, you guessed it, more chocolate and sprinkles. 

We like to think of ourselves as strong contenders when it comes to tackling a generously portioned afternoon tea - in fact, we’ve been known to indulge in TWO in one afternoon - but Grandpa Greene’s festive selection was too much for even our well-trained metabolisms to handle. Luckily, this was anticipated, and the staff were more than happy to provide takeaway trays for us to load up our cakes for later. 

If you’re looking for something a little different to the annual hustle and bustle of a busy Christmas afternoon in Manchester, Grandpa Greene’s provides a pleasant setting for an afternoon tea that we think would appeal to all ages, and make for a good festive family afternoon out. It’s not the sophisticated fare more seasoned tea goers might expect (and Manchester has plenty of options this time of year, like Hotel Gotham and The Midland, if that’s more your style), but it is cute, fun, and pure chocolate and candy-coated indulgence - exactly what Christmas requires.

Grandpa Greene's festive afternoon tea is priced at £26pp. For more information and to book visit: https://www.grandpagreenes.co.uk/

Thursday 20 June 2019

Afternoon Tea at Honey, Hotel Gotham

I'm always conscious that I don't look up enough. Life can be busy and we're all often a little guilty of whizzing around, phone in hand, thinking only about getting from A to B, without stopping to take in what's around us. But Manchester, albeit one of the busiest cities in the UK, is a place where you should definitely take a moment to look a little higher.

That's particularly true around Manchester's former banking area of King Street, where the historic architecture provides some impressive details to the city's ever evolving skyline. We recently got a front row seat at Honey, located atop the boutique Hotel Gotham housed in one of the city's listed buildings, when we stopped by for afternoon tea.

Gotham has been on our hit list for quite some time after several failed attempts to reserve a spot (our fault as eternal late bookers) but this time, the Bat-Signal was calling, and undoubtedly worth the wait.

With the sun shining through Gotham's stunning arch windows, tables are dressed in black cloths and accessorised with rolled-up Gotham Bugle newspapers which double as a hotel guide, a subtle nod to the Gotham theme - though, Gotham City fans note, you won't find much evidence of the Dark Knight himself.

Diners can choose the Gotham Afternoon Tea or upgrade to a Champagne option. We went for the former, starting off with a traditional breakfast tea and Americano but if you peruse the menu, there are plenty of infusions and Gotham recommended teas to satisfy avid tea-explorers out there.

The food arrived on an elegant three-tier silver stand, loaded with colour and some of the most perfect-looking scones you could wish for.

To start, a selection of four sandwiches each, including; coronation chicken, smoked salmon and cream cheese, cucumber and crème fraiche, and truffled egg mayo. A dream combination of fillings and breads, all perfectly fresh, and each of our favourites ticked off. Good start.

Next, the scones. I can't remember the last time we came across an afternoon tea with such a generous scone tier; two plain, two fruit, and a nice size too. The taste test certainly matched up, delightfully soft, served warm with a spot of jam and cream - though we could have perhaps done with a little more of each topping (I don't know if that says more about us than the portion sizes?!).

Finally, the patisserie assortment was an eye-catching mix of classics, livened up by their bold and unexpectedly bright colour palette. We each had a miniature rhubarb cheesecake, strawberry tart, earl grey macaroon and Victoria sponge finished with a playful Barbie pink buttercream top. I couldn't honestly pick a favourite, and though traditionalists may miss a token slice of carrot cake or chocolate delice, you couldn't fault this selection of fun favourites.

As locals to the Manchester area, we're often asked what our go-to afternoon tea spots are around the city. The list has stayed pretty much the same for a long time with a number of Manchester venues some of the most dear to our hearts. But we must say, with its delicious food and unique setting, we'll be adding Hotel Gotham to that list in future.

Gotham Afternoon Tea is priced at £25pp. For more information and to book visit: https://www.hotelgotham.co.uk


Sunday 21 April 2019

WIN Bettys 100th Anniversary Gift Set


As well as being Easter Sunday, today (21st April) also marks the celebration of #NationalTeaDay 2019 - a day to honour the Great British Brew in all its forms. To celebrate, we're offering one lucky person the chance to win a Bettys 100th Anniversary tea and biscuits gift set worth £9.95. 

To enter, all you have to do is follow us over on Instagram at @TeacupReview and comment on our competition post, sharing what your favourite type of tea is - ours is Earl Grey.

The giveaway will close on 26th April, so get your entries in quick.

Good luck (and happy Easter!)

Laura & Caroline x

Open to UK residents only. Only one entry per person. Competition will close at midnight (BST) on 26/04/2019. The winner will be chosen and announced on 30/04/2019. The Afternoon Tea Club's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. The Afternoon Tea Club is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied by third party connected to this competition. There will be no cash alternative. Winner will be notified via Instagram. By entering the competition the winner agrees to participate in such promotional activity on our website and Twitter. No responsibility can be taken for any entries which are not received for any reason. This is an independent competition and is in no way affiliated with Facebook or Instagram.


Tuesday 19 March 2019

Afternoon Tea at The Ivy, York

You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to afternoon tea in York, so take this as fair warning, as we're about to make your next tea choice that little bit more difficult. Sorry, not sorry.

Right as you step into the centre of town, you'll spot The Ivy on St Helen's Square, a sophisticated restaurant that's both a relaxed retreat for lunch and ideal spot for evening cocktails. It also happens to offer a rather good afternoon tea, which we recently went along to try.

Cosy up on The Ivy's mustard yellow booth seating where the formalities of white linen tablecloths are offset by chunky patterned cushions and walls filled with botanical illustrations and contemporary colourful art. Not to mention the spectacular bar area which is wrapped in an old black and white image of York from years gone by and rows of slender mirrored panels which reflect the myriad of colours around the room. 

Once seated we were soon sipping on a glass of champagne each and perusing the tea menu. A great choice of traditional and floral flavours and extra points here for having a full description of the afternoon tea food menu too - ideal for bloggers like us who often forget to make notes about the sandwich selection due to being too distracted by pretty food. No? Just us then? For tea we opted for the Ivy 1917 breakfast blend and Ivy afternoon tea blend. 

First up, the savouries. The sandwich selection was good, if a little small, consisting of a delicious truffled chicken brioche roll, classic cucumber and dill finger sandwich, and open salmon and cream cheese on dark rye. While we would have liked to have seen a little more quantity on the savoury side, maybe a small pastry or another classic finger sandwich, you certainly could not argue with the quality of these afternoon tea favourites executed with a heightened sense of style.

For the scones, we won't lie, we found ourselves wondering for a moment if these were shop-bought or home-made, but it turns out The Ivy's perfectly proportioned fruit scones are in fact freshly baked. Presented on a separate cream tea stand and served with sizeable dollops of Dorset clotted cream, strawberry jam, and fresh strawberries, they did not disappoint.

For us, the top tier ticked all the important boxes of an afternoon tea sweet selection. You've got your fruit, something chocolatey, and traditional flavours done with a twist. First, we had been eyeing up those crème brulee doughnuts from the second the stand arrived at our table and they were so good, we wish we could have taken more home! Followed by the raspberry cheesecake which added a little crunch and refreshing dash of fruit, and finally, the chocolate and salted caramel mousse, presented like cappuccinos in mini espresso cups, which were a nice way to finish. 

Overall, our experience at The Ivy was great. The surroundings are beautiful and the staff were wonderfully attentive. Compared to some of our other recent excursions, it is quite a light afternoon tea offering, so we would probably recommend this more to regular tea-goers looking for a refined, yet informal pit stop whilst perusing York's cobbled streets. That said, where other venues might rely on novelties or themed teas to stand out from the crowd, The Ivy has certainly got the classics sorted and the style to go with it.  

Champagne afternoon tea is priced at £26.50pp. For more information and to book visit: https://theivyyork.com/

We were kindly provided with a complimentary tea for review, but as usual, all thoughts and opinions are very much our own!


Wednesday 6 March 2019

Afternoon Tea at The Mount Royale Hotel, York

If you're heading into York for the day, you'd be forgiven for hopping off the train, heading straight into town for a wander through the Shambles and stopping along the way at a famous tea room. However, set your afternoon tea sights a little further and we promise, you will be glad you did, as we discovered last week when we were invited along to The Mount Royale, an independent hotel just a 10-minute stroll away from York Station, with an afternoon tea offering that should definitely be on your radar.

Pastel perfection awaits you inside OXO's on the Mount where its Royal Tea menu is served by appointment only in a lounge style setting that opens up right onto the hotel's impressive gardens. Created by the talented Karen Oxtoby, this afternoon tea is a beautiful blend of colour, flavour and design, filled with countless little details that make this a truly unique offering in a city that is already spoilt for choice when it comes to tea and cake.

To start, presented on a separate serving dish are a range of finger sandwiches with a good selection of breads and fillings including ham and tomato, creamy coronation chicken, tuna and cucumber, egg mayo, and cheese an onion. There is even a cute candy-striped bag of salted crisps to accompany. Hands down our favourite was the coronation chicken, but there are enough flavours to satisfy even the fussiest of palettes - though a couple did only have one of each, so you might have to fight it out!

Next up, the epicentre of any good afternoon tea - the scones. Not only did they look exquisite, perfectly proportioned and homemade with a dusting of sugar on top, the taste test definitely lived up to our high expectations. A very generous helping of jam and cream meant we could layer up on the good stuff to our heart's content and the personalisation of The Mount Royale's locally sourced branded strawberry jam really added that extra touch. However, don't go to overboard, as the best is yet to come.

Served on a two-tier floral stand, the sweet selection is so pretty and thoughtful, you almost feel bad for eating it. But the guilt lasts for all of two seconds when you tuck into this medley of afternoon tea classics and contemporary flavours. Are you a fan of peanut butter? Passionfruit? Amaretto? Take your pick, it's all here. 

The traditionalists out there may deem this array of flavour to be a little OTT, and on another occasion, we might be inclined to agree, but here it works and care has been taken to ensure each piece feels special. The selection includes macaroons, sugar cookies, battenburg, eton mess, mini cupcakes, meringue, and even a milkshake, served in a small bottle coated in rainbow coloured hundreds and thousands, to wash it down. Whether it's the gold dusting, marble effect fondant, or coloured tissue paper parcels, you simply cannot fault the attention to detail and for £19.95 per person (£26.95 with champagne), it's an absolute steal. 

To top it off, we each had substantial pots of breakfast tea and coffee paired with delicate mismatched teacups and saucers. For the tea connoisseurs out there, it might be good to have a tea menu for guests to choose from, particularly for those wanting to be a little more adventurous but for us, it was hardly a deal breaker.

Overall, we loved our time at The Mount Royale. The setting was relaxed, the sun was shining, and the afternoon tea was a real treat. More people need to know about this place. If you're planning a visit to York any time soon and looking for something a little special, this is where you need to be.  

For more information and to book visit: http://www.mountroyale.co.uk/

We were kindly provided with a complimentary tea for review, but as usual, all thoughts and opinions are very much our own!

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