Saturday 12 January 2013

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: Browns, Manchester

Last week, The Afternoon Tea Club was invited for an afternoon of champagne and sophistication at one of Manchester's premium restaurants, Browns Bar - what better way is there to spend a birthday!

Epitome of Sophistication


Whether you’re ladies who like to lunch or on a business brunch, Brown’s is an idyllic location. Wonderfully calm, but bubbling with ambiance, this sophisticated Brasserie treats its guests to a little taste of the Art Deco past, whilst being firmly footed in the twenty-first century. Their dining area is comfortable and elegant offering just the right balance of historical charm and modernity, with the inclusion of some very impressive chandeliers and mirror lined walls which exude a ‘high class’ feel. The background music was appropriate for the surroundings, adding an extra element of atmosphere to the dining experience - Paolo Nutini is always a winner. I have no doubt that this restaurant can, at peak times, become as lively as every other in town, but for tea and scones in an afternoon this comparative serenity gives Browns that extra added charm - Perfect for escaping the city centre blues for an hour or two.

Dining Room

The overall design of Brown’s is all about grandeur. High ceilings, marble pillars and statement chandeliers are all elegantly put in place to produce the perfect get-away from busy Manchester life.

The aroma from the top class kitchen hits you the moment you walk through the doors of the former banking hall and the shine from gold accents and Edwardian signature pieces make you feel like you’ve just stopped for tea in the first class lounge of the Titanic. However, let us say, Brown’s is no sinking ship and has its feet firmly on the ground with a high class feel that compliments rather than overpowers its welcoming atmosphere. 


Browns offer a selection of Afternoon Teas which include, ’Traditional’, ’Champagne’ and ’A Most Unusual Afternoon’ - which comes with a ’stylish glass of Hendrick’s & Tonic with a slice of cucumber’ - All sounded lovely, but on this occasion we both opted for the Champagne! 

High Tea

I must say that I was very impressed with the standard of all of the food which we were presented with. The tea itself consisted of a selection of finger sandwiches (Cucumber, Salmon & Cream Cheese and Egg & Watercress) presented on a lovely cake stand, with fruit scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam, a selection of mini cakes (Rich dark fruit, Chocolate Mousse and Lemon) and a choice of tea or coffee, with a glass of champagne on the side. The sandwiches were very fresh and made to order on good quality bread - complete with trimmed crusts - whilst the cakes were lovely and moist. My particular favourite was the rich dark fruit cake which was brilliantly dense and fruity and left me wanting more. 

As an added treat, we were given the opportunity to sample the Chef’s special of the day - a Passion Fruit Panna Cotta - which was a definite highlight of the afternoon and well worth trying if you pay them a visit in the near future!

Afternoon Tea

As you may be aware, we’re rather partial to a spot of tea and cake (and if you didn’t well … welcome!) so we were quite excited at the prospect of afternoon tea at Browns. Given the choice between Traditional Tea, Unusual Afternoon and Champagne Tea, we of course did not hesitate to select the champagne option.

Our champagne came presented with a slice of strawberry on the side – subtle but finishing touches like that really make the difference.
I chose to go wild and select coffee instead of tea for the afternoon – good choice too as it was noticeably great quality coffee accompanied by hot milk.

As Caroline said, the selection of sandwiches on offer was a trio of traditional favourites. Perfectly cut afternoon tea staples on particularly fresh bread - top marks for the salmon!
Moving down the stand were some lovely fruit scones complete with jam and cream. They were an absolute treat and if it didn’t break tradition I would have happily had several!
The final tier offered something for every palette with a choice of three miniature cakes – rich chocolate,zesty lemon and good old fruit cake. Of course, my favourite was the chocolate slice which had a lovely mousey texture and thick chocolate topping.

And as if all that wasn’t enough -  we were kindly offered the chance to try the chef’s daily dessert special – a passion fruit Panna Cotta. Delicious! So creamy and tangy at the same time –definitely worth a return visit.

Passion Fruit Panna Cotta


Service at Browns was very swift, friendly and professional, taking care of you without being over facing. We were made to feel incredibly welcome by all staff members from the second we stepped in through the door and couldn‘t have asked for more. 

Upon arrival we were greeted and offered a beverage whilst we chose our tea options. The lovely lady who looked after us was kindly attentive and as Caroline said was observant without being intrusive. Just the right balance.


Overall Thoughts

I had a very enjoyable afternoon at Browns Manchester and will definitely be returning in the near future to sample their a la carte menu and experience the evening ambiance. Full marks!

It would be easy for Browns touse its beautiful guise of grandeur to set itself aside with a sense of elitismbut this just isn’t the case. For me, that was its winning factor as it manages to separate itself from most establishments by simply providing a genuinely lovely experience. Browns is beautiful yet comfortable and if we could stop for afternoon tea here every afternoon, the world would be a wonderful place – now, just have to try and convince the other half to take me there for their Valentine’s special!

Cupcake Rating: 

Browns is located in Manchester City Centre near Rosso, on the corner of York Street and Spring Gardens. Afternoon Tea Prices range from £9.95 - £23.95 and are served daily from 2.30pm. For more information, menus and how to book a table please visit their website HERE 

As is common in the catering and leisure industry, we were provided with complimentary services for review purposes. Whilst this has not influenced our review, we believe in the full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. 

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