Saturday, 12 January 2019

Evening Tea at The Midland, Manchester



Afternoons full of tea and cake are the best (obviously!) but do you know what can be more fun? Evenings full of tea and cake … and cocktails too, otherwise known as our new favourite past time, Evening Tea.

We discovered this little treat a few months back after struggling to find a free weekend for our afternoon adventures and landing upon The Midland in Manchester, which on top of its traditional and Royal Afternoon Tea, offers the option of Evening Tea complete with gin and tonic. 

Served in its beautiful Tea Room, said to be Manchester's only setting specifically designed for afternoon tea, this is the perfect evening oasis to unwind in after a busy day (particularly good for those early January back to work blues).

First comes gin number one, a local Manchester Three Rivers and tonic served with apricots and rosemary. A refreshing start to the first tier, which came loaded with a range of sandwiches and pastries including ox cheek & blue cheese croquette, crab cakes, tomato & goats cheese tart, and salmon and crème fraîche, along with coronation chicken and roast beef with horseradish finger sandwiches, each served on various types of fresh bread. We loved the mix of savoury options, fitting for an evening menu, and were huge fans of the croquette and creamy chicken filling. 

Next up, we were given a choice of plain or fruit scones so decided to opt for one each paired with clotted cream and a selection of jams. The scones were absolutely perfect from the look to the taste and it was great to get a choice of jam (even if we did go for classic raspberry) to make them all the more special.


The second pairing of gin came in the form of a fruity Brockmans with strawberries, blackberries, raspberries. This one was definitely our favourite, a really smooth gin bursting with fruity flavour. Even if you're not usually a fan of gin, we reckon this is one that could change your mind. 

On to the final tier, a slightly smaller cake selection than your typical afternoon tea but a balanced one featuring carrot opera cake and a berry and chocolate macaroon, offering a welcome dash of colour to the primarily savoury stand. Both were delicious and though we both consider ourselves to have a bit of a sweet tooth, this was plenty to satisfy our cravings.

Overall we had a fab first Evening Tea experience. Available between 5.30-7pm Thursday to Sunday, it's an idyllic post-work getaway. Even if you just fancy treating yourself and a friend at the weekend (because January can be fun too) it's actually pretty good value at £35pp including gin. With more late tea menus popping up around the UK, perhaps evening is the new afternoon. 

For more information and to book, visit: https://tearoomatthemidland.co.uk/

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Sunday, 11 November 2018

The Bridge, Prestbury



Is there any better way to spend an autumnal day than by going for a peaceful country walk, wrapped up in your favourite coat and woolly hat, and topping off the afternoon with some good food? We think not, and though most people around us were enjoying a good Sunday roast (which looked amazing, FYI) our trip to The Bridge, Prestbury was of course for our preferred Sunday afternoon treat, afternoon tea.  



Recently refurbished, this Cheshire-based find, a short 10-minute drive from Macclesfield, is an idyllic place for tea. Outside, it has the charm of your go-to countryside pub with a modern splash of white and sage green, but inside, the styling in earthy tones, pinks and greys with floral decoration cascading from the walls and upholstery, gives it a feel of a contemporary restaurant akin to the The Botanist (another of our faves). Similar to its sister venue, The Vicarage in Holmes Chapel, part of the Flat Cap Hotels group which we paid a visit to earlier this year, it's light, open and brimming with both rural charisma and modern style. Can we just move in, please?


But on to the main event, the food. The Bridge offers both a standard afternoon tea priced at £17.95 or prosecco tea for £21.95 - good news for gin fans, you can also opt for G&T. With the offer of prosecco, we of course obliged. The floral theme continues on the menu as our tea arrived on a three-tier stand, packed with colour and some of the most intricately decorated cakes we have seen on our recent travels. Bright pink cake with gold flecks? Count us in.   


We started with an assortment of finger sandwiches with a range of breads and fillings including egg mayonnaise, ham, tomato and mustard, and salmon. The sandwiches were all wonderfully fresh and the salmon in particular, which is always a winner, was just delicious. The only fault here was on our part in that we didn't ask for more!


Then on to the scones, a good size and top marks for the absolute holy grail of afternoon tea standards for us - a pot of jam and pot of cream, each! Not needing to worry about being sparing with the preserve, we lobbed the lot on to our fruit scones, lightly dusted with icing sugar, and they were fab.



On to the final tier and to those beautiful bold creations we mentioned earlier. The selection of homemade cakes (two of each, always a plus) were decorated to perfection and featured a range of contrasting flavours. This included a miniature lemon cake in the style of a rose, a berry mousse on a biscuit base, and a cream pastry topped with rhubarb flavours, and of course, those beautiful gold flakes. Though we adored the detail of the latter, our favourite had to be the lemon cake; bitesized, pretty, packed with flavour and it really complemented the restaurant’s interior style. 



Overall, we were really impressed by The Bridge. The restaurant itself is beautiful and the food can’t be faulted. If you’re looking for somewhere to unwind this weekend or treat yourself to a winter warmer without breaking the bank, we would certainly recommend adding it to your list. With seasonal menus featuring locally sourced ingredients - we already can't wait to come back for Spring.

For more information and to book, visit: https://thebridgecheshire.com


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Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Cake Break: Bean & Cole, Chester


When you've found somewhere that does that perfect latte and brownie combo, it can be very easy to get stuck in a routine of going to the same coffee spot week in, week out. Whilst we're all for cake-loyalty, that regularity can often mean you miss out on what that new coffee shop in town, the one you swear you've been meaning to try, has to offer. We found a perfect example this weekend when we popped into Bean & Cole, a new coffee house on Frodsham Street in Chester.

There is a lot to love about this place; cool stripped brick walls, colourful hippie-style seat cushions, selection of independent magazines, puppy-friendly atmosphere, but the stand-out feature of Bean & Cole has to be the coffee itself. We went for a latte and cappuccino, complete with smooth coffee art and colour block cups and saucers - perfect.

Of course, all good coffee deserves good cake, and Bean & Cole offers a range of pastries, tray bakes and generous slices to accompany its menu. We opted for a coffee cake and have to say, it was one of the best we've ever had. So good, we felt incredibly guilty leaving any trace on the plate but this time the chunky portions (which by no means should be changed based on this critique!) managed to defeat us - we will back.

Special mention must also go to the lovely team at Bean & Cole who were super friendly and made us so at home, we didn't want to leave.

The coffee scene in Chester is certainly growing and that makes us very happy. If you're heading to the city any time soon, why not skip your usual high street haunts and grab your coffee break here? We promise you won't be disappointed.

Laura
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Monday, 27 August 2018

5 things we're looking forward to on this year's Great British Bake Off



In case you were feeling a little glum from the sugar comedown after Afternoon Tea Week, the Great British Bake Off has returned just in time to fill the cake void in our lives. Here are five things we're looking forward to this series.

1) Having an excuse to talk about cake again
For the estimated three people in the UK who didn't get sucked into watching Love Island this year, the last few months have been a bit of a struggle, avoiding conversations and feeling like a bit of a social outcast whilst everyone else at the office sipped on personalised Love Island branded water bottles. With GBBO back on our TV screens, it's back to cakes, bakes and all the drama that goes with it. Finally!

2) Noel's fabulous shirts
Now, Mary Berry may have turned herself into an unexpected style icon during her reign (did anyone manage to get one of those Marks and Spencer bomber jackets?) but last year we found ourselves looking forward to seeing Noel's choice of quirky shirt each week just as much as the star bakes. Ice cream prints, giant tomatoes, polka dot smiley faces - we'll be scouring Asos for copies in no time. 

3) Going back to basics
Like any great afternoon tea, we love a good showstopper bake as much as an offer of bottomless prosecco, but sometimes it's the classics that steal the show. We're happy to hear some of this year's challenges have gone "back to basics" in a bid to encourage wannabe cake-goddesses like ourselves to get baking. No need to worry about any more 'Italian Week' fails this year then?

4) Vegan Week
According to a recent survey there are around 3.5 million people in the UK choosing to enjoy a plant-based diet so it seems only fitting that this series should include a week dedicated to vegan recipes. With more and more menus offering great vegan options these days, there's no reason to think that no meat, eggs or dairy means you have to sacrifice on taste. We're excited to see what the team have come up with!

5) The end of innuendo?
Okay so not so much as "looking forward to" the end of soggy bottoms but rather, intrigued as to how we might cope without them if the rumours are true. Noel and Sandi have said innuendo isn't really their thing and Paul has commented that it's "not the be all and end all of the show" (erm, we respectfully disagree). However, Prue has weighed in to say that though the jokes may not be planned, we'll definitely get some. As Noel stated last year; "If there's an opportunity for exposed bottoms we should embrace it". Rightly so.

The Great British Bake Off returns to Channel 4 on 28th August.


Image: Mark Bourdillon / Love Productions/Channel 4

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Sunday, 19 August 2018

Afternoon Tea at Richmond Tea Rooms, Manchester


With a super busy week planned for the both of us, Afternoon Tea Week celebrations were very nearly non-existent for us at Afternoon Tea Club (must block out the entire week for cake next year) but luckily, Richmond Tea Rooms in Manchester were there to save the day with a post-work, early evening afternoon tea that's as sweet as its surroundings.


We've been to this Alice-themed wonderland a few times before for cake and coffee but we were yet to try its full Queen's Tea offering, so a sitting at 6pm (and 25% off) felt like the perfect excuse to tick it off our list.

If you're a fan of all things Mad Hatter, Richmond Tea Rooms is a must-visit, decked out in plush Queen of Hearts red, mismatched teapots and 'eat me, drink me' references, it's perfect for escaping reality for an hour or two. 


There are five tea options to choose from ranging from The Alice Tea (cream tea) to The Richmond Tea (complete with champagne). We went for The Queen's Tea which comes served on a classic three tier stand accompanied by colourful pots of refillable tea (breakfast tea and Afternoon Darjeeling - perfect). 

To start, the savoury selection featured a range of fingers sandwiches including chicken mayo, cucumber and cream cheese, ham and tomato and egg mayo, plus a slice of tomato and onion bruschetta. A well-balanced selection and we loved that the sandwiches alternated between pairings of white and brown bread - a cute nod to the topsy turvy affair you might expect to find at the Hatter's tea party.


Next up were the sugar dusted fruit scones, and probably our favourite part for several reasons. One, they were huge. Two, the offer of more jam and cream earned instant points (more places should do this, there is nothing worse than fighting over the last drop of strawberry preserve). And three, they were  just delicious! 

Finally, the sweet selection was just as impressive offering an idyllic blend of cute cakes, fruity flavours and subtle gestures to the tea room's home of Manchester. On offer was a strawberry cupcake, chocolate delice layer cake, Manchester tart, and passion fruit trifle. We loved every bit of it, even if we did struggle to finish the lot. The passion fruit trifle was an absolute winner.


Overall, this is a great afternoon tea and worth a visit for the surroundings alone. At £18.95 per person for The Queen's Tea it's good value and there's even a gluten free option too. If you're looking for a true escape, and great tea and cake to go with it, this is the place to find it.

For more information and to book visit: https://www.richmondtearooms.com/
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