Saturday, 30 March 2013

The Independent's '50 Best Tea Rooms'


The Independent 

A few weeks ago we were approached by the 'Independent' to form part of an expert Afternoon Tea Panel for an article in their weekly 'Radar' Magazine.

To read the article and find out our North West selections, buy copy today or read online at:


Laura and Caroline

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Friday, 29 March 2013

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: Crewe Hall, Crewe


Last Monday the Afternoon Tea Club were invited to sample high tea at one of the UK's top venues - Crewe Hall. With its beautiful views and exquisite Jacobean interior, this was certainly an experience that we won't be forgetting in a hurry!

Crewe Hall

Environment

Caroline: 
The expansive landscapes and quintessentially English exteriors of Crewe Hall, combine to create the perfect Afternoon Tea setting. Located on its own estate, just ten minutes away from Crewe town centre, this Jacobean manor house has an extraordinary historical background, which will engage even the most passive of historians, with previous visitors including her Majesty the Queen and Charles Dickens. However, if the celebrity-factor doesn’t do it for you, the Hall’s interior certainly will, with beautiful period features and stained glass windows running throughout to create a luxurious environment.

The Sheridan lounge, where tea is served, is wonderfully lavish with beautiful ornate turquoise ceilings and rich furnishings, working together to create a lovely vibrant feel. The room itself is light and airy, with large windows allowing for an abundance of natural light, whilst the presence of potted plants, offers a freshness which really enhanses the environment wonderfully.

The Sheridan Lounge

Laura: 
Steeped in history dating all the way to back to Doomsday 1086, Crewe Hall is the epitome of Great British grandeur. Arriving from its private approach road, this stately building set amongst vast greenery, is an absolutely breath taking fete of architecture.
Before it’s time for tea there is a lot to explore in the former Jacobean Hall. Take a wander through the hallway to admire the giant library, stunning stained glass windows and the many ornate fire places, all with their own unique story to tell.

The Full Tea

When it’s time for an afternoon treat, The Sheridan Lounge is where the real magic happens. This utterly luxurious tea room is presented to perfection with deep tones of plum, chocolate and turquoise. Its modern colour scheme works beautifully amongst the traditional setting of vintage tea room equipped with leather seating you would envisage in a decadent lounge from a bygone era of complete class. 
I loved the huge windows and incredibly detailed carvings found on the far wall and above the fireplace -  there literally isn’t an inch of this place that doesn’t come with a story. Just gorgeous.
Scones

Food

Caroline: 
Crewe Hall’s Afternoon Tea is everything that it ought to be: elegant, sophisticated and delicious. Dominating the table with its substantial height and impressive selection of treats, this tea is an absolute delight for the eyes and palate.
 
The menu itself is executed to perfection and offers a good selection of traditional classics, including: Finger Sandwiches (Coronation Chicken, Cucumber and Crème Fresh, Ham and Mustard, and Salmon) Warm Scones (fruit and plain) with Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream, and a selection if Cakey Treats (Chocolate Macaroons, Fruity Manchester Tart, Orange Gateaux and Chocolate Éclair) 

Afternoon Tea

The standard throughout the selection is consistently high, with all sandwiches being freshly prepared to order - an element which, although small, was greatly appreciated (too often do we come across sandwiches which are pre-made and a little dry!) - my favourite of these had to be the Coronation Chicken which I’ve never experienced before in an afternoon tea, but which I greatly enjoyed and thought made for a nice contrast alongside the other staple classics. My favourite from the cake tier had to be the Chocolate Macaroon, which was lovely and rich without being at all overpowering, whilst the Manchester Tart offered a nice contrast with light and fruity flavours.

With champagne, special loose leaf teas and a food selection to die for, you can’t really go wrong with Afternoon Tea at Crewe Hall.

Timed Tea

Laura:
My eyes lit up when our afternoon feast arrived at the table. Laid out on a gorgeous three tier stand with an endless supply of fabulous Twining’s tea, I knew we were in for an amazing afternoon.
Freshly prepared in Crewe Hall’s Victorian kitchen, our luxury Champagne Tea began with a refreshing glass of orange juice and a selection of teas to impress the most enthusiastic of tea lovers.
I opted for the intriguingly named Russian Caravan –a smoky blend which I’m told was transported in caravans when the tea was first brought from India to Europe. The tea was lovely with and without milk and made a pleasant change to my usual cup of coffee. Plus it was great to get a real tea experience with sand timers to ensure our drinks were brewed to 3 minute perfection!
The Cakes

The range of finger sandwiches was excellent. Traditional fillings but with a distinctive accompaniments that although subtle, made a huge difference. We were served cucumber with mint, Coronation chicken, salmon and ham and mustard. My favourite was the salmon – fresh and the bread was super soft, something that is normally very easy to get wrong – impressive!

Next up and the staple of afternoon tea – scones with jam and cream. I loved that we were given 2 of each variety, plain and fruit filled. It has to be said that these were some of the best looking scones we have ever had, brown and glossy on top and lashings of jam and cream to accompany. I particularly loved the jam and cream serving dishes as they were set aside from the main tier which made them very easy to dish out between the two of us!
The selection of cakes was tremendously generous and included chocolate macaroons, Manchester tart, orange praline gateaux and chocolate éclair. The desserts complemented each other wonderfully with a good mix of textures and flavours – a real treat for the self-confessed sweet tooth like myself!
This afternoon tea is one of complete indulgence and if like me, you find yourself defeated by this lavish cake selection, don’t worry as the lovely staff will box up any leftover goodies for you to enjoy at home – or if you’re anything like me and couldn’t wait – on the train home!

Tea Time

Service

Caroline:
We’ve had first rate service before, but nothing that quite compares to that on offer at Crewe Hall. From the lovely ladies and gents on reception, to the tea experts in the Sheridan Lounge, everyone at this hotel has a role to play and all play it exceedingly well. The commitment and enthusiasm from all staff towards their hotel is commendable, with absolutely no request being too much, as they strive for the excellence synonymous with high class dining.

Special mention must go to the Hotel’s Tea experts whose product knowledge was exceptional - Not only did they have exacting information about all of the blends available, but were also able to offer an interesting anecdote for each - I particularly enjoyed the story behind the ‘Russian Caravan’ Tea.

All in all brilliant service!

Champagne

Laura:
Passionate staff give Crewe Hall the upper hand – these guys really know their tea! The staff were extremely knowledgeable on the various tea options available and had extensive knowledge on the history of the hotel. Their appetite for great service was undeniably genuine and their warm personalities made this all the better. Special thanks must go to Kyle who was kind enough to give us a tour of the historic building and was incredibly attentive to our tea needs.

Overall Thoughts

Caroline:
It’s easy to see why Crewe Hall was recently voted by the AA as one of the top ten afternoon tea venues in the UK. Not only does it offer a perfect experience, but it does so with such ease and sophistication, as to make you feel truly at home. It is perhaps the most authentic afternoon tea experience which we have encountered so far and I would not hesitate to return again in the future.



Laura:

My favourite afternoon tea so far. With a great selection of cakes and the best tea selection yet, it puts you under a tea spell and makes you feel as special as the building itself.
The thriving yet sophisticated Sheridan Lounge has a wonderful atmosphere and brings a whole new lease of life to this longstanding afternoon tradition.
Beautifully luxurious and frequented by Royals for many generations – Crewe Hall is a must try and definitely gets our seal of approval. 
Cupcake Rating:

 






And the Golden Cupcake...











Crewe Hall is located on Weston Road Crewe. Afternoon Tea Prices start from £20.50 and are served daily from 12pm - 5pm. For more information, menus and how to book a table please visit their website HERE 


DISCLAIMER: 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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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Afternoon Tea News: Easter Afternoon Tea at The Hilton Park Lane and Manchester

The Hilton Hotel has revealed their new Easter Afternoon Tea selection, with goodies which will excite and delight your taste-buds!

Easter Afternoon Tea

Based on their 'Confessions of a Chocoholic' Tea, The Hilton Park Lane's new Easter offering is certainly a feast for the eyes. If you're in London and fancy a special bank holiday treat, then this could be just the thing for you - with mini egg towers, macaroons and a chocolate plate, we think that it's going to be a pretty special Tea - definitely not one to be missed!

Manchester Hilton - Cloud 23 Easter Tea

Can't make it to London? Why not head over to Manchester to try the Hilton Cloud 23 limited edition Easter Tea

Available for a short time only, the menu is set to include: A selection of finger sandwiches with fillings incl. poached salmon and dill, roast chicken and stuffing, ham and mustard, and egg mayonnaise and cress; Chocolate chip and plain scones with home-made chocolate and nut spread; traditional Easter simnel cake; A Chocolate nest with chocolate eggs; Chocolate orange macaroons; White chocolate and raspberry mouse and a bag of chocolate mini eggs.

Sounds pretty impressive, don't you agree?

If you're lucky enough to try either of these teas over weekend, be sure to drop us a line with your thoughts!

Information about Park Lane Easter Afternoon Tea Packages can be forund HERE
Manchester's Cloud 23 Easter Afternoon tea is priced at Priced at £37.50 pp and includes a glass of Pommery Champagne and yummy chocolate cocktail. For more infromation and booking visit their website HERE
(Available on the 29th, 30th, and 31st of March 2013 and on 1st April 2013.)
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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Afternoon Tea News: Golden Easter Egg Surprise Afternoon Tea at Corinthia Hotel, London

Corinthia Hotel London, recently announced their brand new Easter Afternoon Tea, featuring Golden eggs and Bunny Macaroons - yummy!

 

Here's a little of what you can expect:
This Spring hop into The Lobby Lounge for an Easter time indulgence and nestle in for Afternoon Tea at Corinthia London.
Enjoy a specially crafted selection of Easter themed cakes and fancies from the delicious orange butter cream macaroon "Easter Bunny" to the delectable carrot cake and chocolate covered "Plant Pot" complete with miniature confectioned carrot and traditional Easter Simnel cake decorated with marzipan.
On Easter Sunday, Afternoon Tea becomes extra special with all guests receiving a delicious handmade Golden Easter egg. Once opened an Easter treat could be revealed with a surprise gift ranging from a manicure by ESPA Life at Corinthia to a night’s stay in one of Corinthia London’s luxury rooms.
We love the sound of the Chocolate Plant Pot and Bunny Orange Butter Macaroon. What do you think? Let us know your thoughts!

Easter Afternoon Tea at Corinthia Hotel London, priced at £39 per person, is served from 25th March to 2nd April 2013. To book call +44 (0) 20 7321 3116
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Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: The Marriott Victoria and Albert Hotel, Manchester

PLEASE NOTE: THIS TEA HAS NOW BEEN UPDATED. READ OUR REVIEW OF THE NEW V&A OFFERING HERE

Last week the Afternoon Tea Club were invited to the Marriott Victoria and Albert Hotel in Manchester for a riverside tea!


Environment

Caroline:
Located by the River Irwell, on the edge of Manchester City Centre, the Marriott Victoria and Albert Hotel offers country lodge settings in a city environment. Decorated throughout in warm shades of brown and accented with relaxing blue hues, this brasserie-style bar is a place of modern comfort. Similarly the side gallery, where tea is served, also offers a pleasant atmosphere, with exposed brick walls and comfortable leather chairs which create a wonderfully  intimate feel - perfect for a coffee and a catch up!


Laura:
The Marriott brings the the rural homeliness of the country right to the heart of the city. Olive green furnishings and crisp white table settings serve this restaurant well and compliment the almost 'New York' inspired accents shown in the dim wall lighting and bare brick walls.
The best thing about this hotel is the calming view of the River Irwell, made even more picturesque by the surprise snow that fell during our visit! A simple and relaxing setting.

Food

Caroline:
Served on pretty floral cake stands, Afternoon Tea at the Victoria and Albert Hotel offers simple yet traditional fare. Their menu includes: a selection of finger sandwiches (Salmon, Cucumber, Ham and Egg), Fruit Scones with Clotted Cream and Bonne Maman Strawberry Conserve (my jam of choice) and a selection of mini cakes and pastries.

My favourite layer had to be the patisserie, which consisted of a variety of bite-size classics: a rich chocolate cake, mini-vanilla slice and a zesty orange macaroon. Being a fan of all things chocolate the cake was a clear winner, being wonderfully chocolaty and moist.

The tea, a staple classic Twinings Earl Grey, was served in a lovely white tea service and replenished regularly - much to my delight!


Laura:
This traditional afternoon tea comes served with brilliant views, a bottomless coffee pot and a little bit of history. On our table was a small card which explained the origins of our favourite pastime which was a really lovely touch.
Our three tier stand was quite adorable with multi-coloured floral layers that gave a complete contrast to the venue's rural layout.
To start we had a good range of sandwiches, my favourite being the ham and mustard which was surprisinly filling. To follow we indulged in some classic fruit scones which came partnered with yummy cream and a mini pot of jam each.
Finally the dessert selection included a mini chocolate cake, custard slice and also an orange cream macaroon. The macaroon was a clear winner for me as it was nice to try a less than traditional favour for this increasingly popular dessert.
All I would point out is that perhaps by trying to stick with a 'traditional afternoon tea' theme, this tea lacks the excitement and variation you might find at other venues at a similar cost. I do feel that this afternoon tea could be fantastic with just a few changes such as slightly larger desserts and perhaps homemade scones.

Service


Caroline:
The service at the V&A was attentive without being at all invasive. Out teacups were topped and our places promptly cleared. I particularly appreciated the presence of the doorman who greeted us upon arrival - He offered a very warm welcome, pointing out the direction of the lounge area with great enthusiasm. Very good service!


Laura:
Like Caroline, I really appreciated the gentleman greeting us at the door. We were made to feel very welcome throughout our stay with staff being appropriately attentive - very well mannered too!

Overall Thoughts


Caroline:
If you’re looking for a no-frills afternoon tea in a great environment, then the Marriott Victoria and Albert Hotel could be just the place for you. The hotel itself is lovely and the staff are very attentive - a great place for a relaxed afternoon.


Laura:
The Marriott Victoria and Albert is a very pleasant afternoon tea venue. It's offers simple afternoon tea in idyllic surroundings and the lovely staff make you feel right at home. A really enjoyable afternoon.

Cupcake Rating:
 


The Marriott Victoria and Albert Hotel is located along the River Irwell on Water Street, Manchester City Centre. Afternoon Tea Price start at £14.50pp. For more information 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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Friday, 15 March 2013

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: Gluten Free Afternoon Tea!



This week The Afternoon Tea Club was invited to sample some products from Warburtons Newburn Bakehouse - the home of Warburtons fantastic new Free From range. We thought what better way to do so than to create a very special, gluten and wheat free afternoon tea!

Gluten Free Afternoon Tea

We received a generous sample box from Warburtons' wheat and gluten free bakery, which aims to produce Free From products that taste just as good as those created in the Core Bakery. We were very excited to get our hands on this tasty lot: White Sliced Loaf, Brown Sliced Loaf, Spiced Fruit Loaf, Large Seeded Loaf, White Baguettes, Lemon and Poppy Seed muffins, Blueberry and Cranberry Muffins and Fruity Teacakes.
Here's what we thought!

Fresh Bread

Afternoon Tea has to make a great first impression. It must look good and get off to a good start with a tasty selection of fresh breads to create the perfect finger sandwiches. We put the Newburn Bakehouse loaves to the test with some of our favourite sandwich fillings and we were very pleased with the results!
The Sliced White Loaf was really soft and made for a wonderful substitute to a traditional white loaf. It was a good size and thickness too, which means it would be ideal to toast without the worry of getting lost in the toaster! Same goes for the Sliced Brown Loaf - almost incomparable and although the colour was a little bolder than perhaps standard brown bread, the taste was really wholesome and fresh.
By far the most interesting loaf we received was the Spiced Fruit Loaf. Absolutely packed with raisins and sultanas, this loaf has enough flavour to go solo without any classic fillings. The spicy infusions gave it a real kick that wasn't too overpowering and the texture was a real feat - just a lovely, juicy treat.

Fruit Teacakes
Up next, we thought we would give this afternoon tea a bit of a twist by utilising our Fruity Teacakes and giving them pride of place on our middle tier - and rightly so! These fruity nibbles are just the right size and the aroma when toasted is absolutely mouthwatering. With a dollop of butter, these are the perfect companion for an afternoon cuppa and they're positively bursting with currants and sultanas. We would love to wake up to these in the morning!

Blueberry and Cranberry Muffins

And finally, and possibly the bit we were looking forward to the most, the muffins. We were treated to both Lemon and Poppy Seed and Blueberry and Cranberry flavours. Both were absolutely full of flavour, especially the Blueberry and Cranberry which oozed taste from both of its distinctive fruits. The muffins are a really great size too making them perfect for a fruity snack to go with your coffee break.
We were pleasantly surprised to discover just how similar these gluten and wheat free products were to normal bakery products. There is a common belief that Free From products never quite match up to their peers but this new range definitely proves otherwise.
Overall - a scrumptious alternative to traditional afternoon tea!
For more information, check out our interview with Chris Hook, Managing Director at the Newburn Bakehouse here or to find out where to buy go to: www.newburnbakehouse.com
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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Afternoon Tea News: Theo Fennell Bijoux Afternoon Tea by The Langham Hotel, London

Last week the Langham Hotel London announced its latest Afternoon Tea collaboration with top jewellery designer Theo Fennell. Here's a little of what you can expect:


The Langham Hotel is renowned for its high class afternoon teas and you can't get much classier than a tea inspired by diamonds and pearls. Designed by the Langham's in-house Pastry Chef Extraordinaire, Cherish Finden, in association with Theo Fennell, this tea will offer guests a taste of the high life, with fusions of eclectic flavours and fabulous colour schemes.

Inspired by Fennell's exclusive Jewellery range, the decadent menu will include delights such as: Foie Gras and Smoked Duck with Mandarin, Beetroot Cured Scottish Salmon with Grey Goose Vodka Cream plus Pearl Las and Broccoli Quiche with Piquillo Peppers, Salted caramel Pearl and Pistachio Fudge and the Kentish Strawberry with White Balsamic Macaroon.


Sounds great. Here's what the Langham had to say about this exciting new menu:

The Langham, London is delighted to announce its annual Bijoux Afternoon Tea collaboration with luxury jewellery designer Theo Fennell. The partnership celebrates Theo Fennell’s love of fine craftsmanship and eclectic design alongside The Langham’s illustrious past as Europe's first 'Grand Hotel' and the birthplace of the afternoon tea tradition over. Award-winning Head Pastry Chef Cherish Finden, recently voted ‘Pastry Chef of the Year’ at the Craft Guild Awards, has created a selection of irresistible treats, inspired by Theo Fennell’s exquisite jewellery collection.
Served in the glittering Palm Court, the centre piece of The Langham, London since 1865, The Theo Fennell Bijoux Afternoon Tea is a modern day interpretation of the classic British tradition. Decadent savouries include Foie Gras and Smoked Duck with Mandarin, Beetroot Cured Scottish Salmon with Grey Goose Vodka Cream plus Pearl Las and Broccoli Quiche with Piquillo Peppers. 
Cherish’s inspiration for the pastries derive from Theo’s exuberant use of colour as well as his attention to detail. The Salted caramel Pearl and Pistachio Fudge is inspired by Theo’s intricately crafted 18ct Yellow Gold and Pearl Tropical collection, a handcrafted homage to our most beloved ocean dwellers. Cherish also celebrates Theo Fennell’s signature Art Pendants in her Kentish Strawberry with White Balsamic Macaroon. Other pastries include Victoria Plum with Sakura Sponge Mango and Passion with shortbread plus Royal Gala Apple with Champagne.

We think it sounds fabulous and can't wait to try it for ourselves. Have you booked? Let us know what you think - we always love to hear your thoughts!

The Theo Fennell Bijoux Afternoon Tea, priced at £49.00 pp, will be served at the Langham from 8th April until November 2013. For more information and how to book, please visit their website, HERE.
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Monday, 11 March 2013

The Afternoon Tea Club: Baking Mad Competition



Fancy yourself as a keen baker? Or maybe you're just starting out and looking for some cake-spiration? Well we have a fantastic prize to give away that might be just the thing you're looking for!

We at The Afternoon Tea Club recently teamed up with the folks at BakingMad.com to take part in their Baking Challenge and chose from their huge range of recipes to create the perfect homemade afternoon tea. Take a look at how we got on here.

We're offering you the chance to get your hands on two fab BakingMad.com books which tell you all you need to know about great British baking and cake decorating.

For your chance to win, simply answer this question:

Name one of the three things we made in our Baking Mad Challenge.

Email your answers, along with your name and address, to theafternoonteaclub@hotmail.co.uk remembering to put 'Baking Mad Competition' in the subject line. The closing date will be midnight on Sunday, March 24 and the winnner will be announced on Monday, March 25.

Good luck!

Terms and Conditions: Open to UK residents only. Only one entry per person. Competition will close at midnight on 24/03/2013. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on 25/03/2013. The Afternoon Tea Club's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. There will be no cash alternative. Winner will be notified via email. 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 recieved for any reason. The Afternoon Tea Club operates as a separate entity to bakingmad.com.
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Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Afternoon Tea Club Reviews: The Radisson Blu Edwardian, Manchester


Last week the Afternoon Tea Club headed off to the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel in Manchester to sample some of their lovely afternoon tea in the Opus One Bar. 


Environment

Caroline:
Located in the historic Free Trade Hall on Manchester’s Peter Street, the Radisson Blu Edwardian is a building of grand proportions. From its beautiful Victorian exterior to its undeniably modern interior, this hotel is bubbling with ambiance and has a certain je ne sais quoi which makes for a wonderful afternoon tea.

The striking red themes which run throughout, create a vibrant and luxurious atmosphere, whilst the side room where tea is served extends this theme, also offering a lovely bright aspect onto the street outside, through the inclusion of wonderful feature windows. The furniture is also very comfortable and includes brilliant red-velvet swivel chairs which were an absolute delight and a personal highlight of the afternoon (who can resist a swivel chair?!)


Laura: 
Any unabashed Twi-hard would delight in the fab decor inside the Opus One Bar . Cool and classy, it's kitted out in patent black and red with huge chess pieces dotted around the bar. A very good start and there’s a noticeable contrast moving through to the afternoon tea area as the atmosphere changes, positively of course, as we find ourselves allocated a window table – this is definitely a place to watch the world go by.
There's a lovely feel to this section of the restaurant as the large windows invite great natural lighting and give the illusion of outdoor dining - without having to brave the cold!
The layout is pristine and crisp with white table cloths and super slim fire places. I absolutely loved the scarlet, rotating chairs which made it incredibly easy to get in and out of our seats without any tea spillages - more places should invest in these!
The Radisson Blu Edwardian is modern yet quite understated and certainly makes for a perfect afternoon tea location.


Food

Caroline:
The food at the Radisson was delicious and offered a good selection of traditional classics served on a three tiered silver stand, including: a selection of Finger Sandwiches in a variety of flavours (Beef, Ham, Tuna, Cheese, Prawn and Egg), Plain and Fruit Scones (with Clotted Cream and Tipton Strawberry Jam) and a wonderful array of Cakes and Pastries (Strawberry Tart, Banoffee Pie, Chocolate Cake and Summer Fruit Jelly)

The sandwiches in particular were quite special, being served as a double layer for twice the taste sensation - very impressive. The cheese mayo was my personal favourite - so much so in fact that I also claimed Laura’s for my own! The scones were also lovely and light, being served warm with a dusting of icing sugar for extra effect, whilst the patisserie crowned the stand, taking pride of place at the top. The selection here was very impressive and offered a real focal point to the display. Of this choice, my favourite by far was the Strawberry Tart which had the hidden surprise of a cream filling, which was a very welcome alternative to the usual crème patissiere and got me in the mood for summer!



Laura:
This was the dessert selection I had been waiting for. But before I get down to cakey business, let’s look at what else was on offer.
There are 3 different types of afternoon tea available at the Radisson Blu with one particularly exciting option - a Gentleman's Afternoon Tea. As tempted as I was by the sound of mini Yorkshire puds and pork pies - my sweet tooth got the best of me and I chose to sample the Traditional Afternoon Tea.
There was a great selection of sandwiches with a good mix of fillings including beef, prawn, tuna, egg and ham. My favourite was definitely the beef - simple and not overdone by other toppings that might otherwise make it too fussy.
Next up were the scones. I was very happy to find we were given a fruit scone and plain scone each and both were incredibly soft and still warm with a good amount of jam and cream.
And finally, the the final tier, the fabulous dessert selection. Oh my. Picture this; banoffee pie, chocolate cake, strawberry tart and summer fruits jelly - perfect. The banoffee pie was lovely and fluffy and the chocolate cake was just delicious.
The fruit jelly was certainly very different and made for a great refresher at the end of our tea.
These desserts were all quite rich which might be a bit much for some diners when presented together - but if you can't manage to finish it all, the lovely staff will box anything left over for you to take home.
Of course we found no problem in finishing the entire thing!


Service

Caroline:
I always feel that I tend to say the same things when reviewing service, but once again the waiters at the Radisson worked to a very high standard. All staff were very attentive and made sure that we were well looked after, whilst the personal welcome from the charming bar manager was also a nice touch. On a purely aesthetic note, I really loved the fact that everyone was wearing suits - It gave the place an executive/business feel which I liked very much. Great Job!


Laura: 
The service here was carried out to such a high standard. Our server took extra care to explain all of the different tiers and was very attentive when it came to topping up our hot drinks.

Each member of staff we encountered was friendly, with one lovely lady engaging in a joke with us when collecting our coats. This gave the service a much more genuine feel yet still remained top class.


Overall Thoughts

Caroline:
I really enjoyed our afternoon at the Radisson Blu Edwardian and would recommend it to anyone wanting to experience a traditional tea in a relaxed environment. The food is lovely and the service impeccable. Overall a very enjoyable afternoon, that I wouldn’t hesitate to repeat - Next time I'd love to try their Savory/Gentleman's tea which sounds fabulous!


Laura:
This was definitely one of my favourite afternoon tea menus. I would go back here simply for the choice and the service. It's an impressive space and you are made to feel extremely welcome. I think next time I will have try the Gentleman's Afternoon Tea, such a unique idea and certainly one to look out for. Just a delightful afternoon.

Cupcake Rating:






 

The Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel is located on Peter Street, Manchester City Centre. Afternoon Tea Prices start from £16.95pp. For more information please visit their website HERE
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Thursday, 7 March 2013

Product Review: Twinings Fruit Tea


A few weeks ago the lovely people at Twinings sent us a selection of their yummy fruit teas to try and this is what we thought:



Fruit Teas

Caroline: 
I don't have a lot of fruit tea experience, being more of an Earl Grey and English Breakfast Tea kind of girl, but I was very excited to see what Twinings had to offer. The selection we received was very generous and included: Blackcurrant and Vanilla, Lemon and Ginger, Camomile and Spiced Apple, Mango and Strawberry and Apple Crunch.

I'll be honest, I liked some better than others, but this was largely down to personal preference - I've never been a fan of Camomile or Ginger - so inevitably these weren't to my taste. Due to this I feel that it would be unfair for me to comment on either of these varieties, as I may be unnecessarily biased.

The Selection

I will however offer my opinions on the other three varieties, which I found to be surprisingly good. For me, whenever I try something new, I have to break myself in and get used to it before I can really enjoy it - for example a few months ago I started drinking Nettle tea and hated it, but now it's one of my go to drinks (you do have to be persistent though!) - For some of these teas it took me a couple of tries before I could appreciate them fully, the Mango and Strawberry in particular, but once I got used to the flavours I definitely found myself being converted.

My absolute favourite out of this selection was the Blackcurrant and Vanilla, which was fresh and fruity whilst also being incredibly soothing. The aroma in particular was lovely, with initial sweet blackcurrant flavours  which later gave way to vanillary undertones. It's great as a winter warmer but also equally pleasant when served cold with a couple of ice cubes - a drink for the whole year 'round. The Apple Crunch was another favourite, with refreshing mellow flavours and a lovely aroma, whilst the Mango and Strawberry was surprisingly zesty, with orange hues which initially took me by surprise - However, after a few cups I was completely convinced! 

Twinings!


Laura:
I've always been much more of a coffee-head rather than a tea drinker but more recently I have swayed over to the fruity tea side, so I was really excited to try Twinings warming flavours.



Like Caroline said, we received a very generous selection and I must say it was difficult to choose where to start! I have tried lemon and camomile teas in the past - camomile being pretty much a staple when it came to destressing after a long day during my time at uni! Twinings Camomile and Spiced Apple flavour was certainly very different still wonderfully calming with the spiced apple notes proving very subtle - lovely.


I've got to say my favourite was definitely the Mango and Strawberry. Such a unique flavour and the aroma was perfectly calming yet the fruitiness still gave it a refreshing kick. A close second was the Blackcurrent and Vanilla. I wasn't too sure if I was going to love this one as I would never think to put those two flavours together but I was pleasantly surprised. Again, the flavours were quite neutral but enough to let both shine through.
I also shared the tea love with my family and encouraged them try a few cups - Lemon and Ginger came out on top in my household and we were left with an empty box rather quickly!
If you like your tea but want to try something different, I would definitely recommend Twinings great selection. Gorgeously fruity and perfect for relaxation - go try!

For more info and where to buy head to http://www.twinings.co.uk
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Monday, 4 March 2013

A Cup with Sorcha: The Gallery Mess London, Afternoon Tea Review

 Recently our Lady in London, Sorcha Stott-Strzala, was invited to Gallery Mess to sample their wonderful Afternoon Tea. Here's what she thought:


Chelsea has an undoubted reputation as the place to be seen and The Gallery Mess offers a platform for this sort of show. With a line of tables on either side as you enter, all eyes are on you as you walk down a catwalk to your table, in a ‘Hall of Mirrors’ style shoot. Attached to the Saatchi, The Gallery Mess brings new meaning to the humble and understated cafe to pop into for a sit down and cuppa after seeing an exhibition. The main exhibit in The Gallery Mess is you and your fellow Chelsea girls and boat-shoe wearing sons who've sauntered in casually from the Kings Road, and if you don’t fit into these categories when you enter, you feel like you do when you leave.

The vibe is sophisticated and relaxed. The simple cutlery and thin china crockery, are sparsely set on the white, traditional table cloth, setting the scene for the elegant and (surprisingly) understated afternoon tea to come. The Gallery Mess offers a ‘modern afternoon tea’ in a modern dining room, yet the architectural backdrop of exposed brickwork and white groin vaulted ceilings really emphasises tradition.


The menu is not extensive when it comes to Afternoon Tea with the only choice being whether you want or don’t want the Pommery NV Brut Champagne, perhaps working on the principle of having something successful and simple, and sticking to it. The Gallery Mess is less like an officers eatery as its name suggests, but more like a Japanese verandah, a roofed but open pillared gallery with a feel of indoor/outdoor space, fresh with natural light which hits the glass teapots, making them sparkle. The view is of a private school field filled with children playing lacrosse in perfectly dirty uniforms, a little (and sweet) reminder that you're in an upmarket neighborhood.


Well-risen and warm scones are served untraditionally along side the canapé sizes sweet bites on a modest slate cake stand with two tiers. Although different from the Hotel style triple stand, this fitted in well with the vibe and the setting, not overwhelming but still special. The champagne served in tall glasses, bubbly and picturesque in the flooding light, gave the celebratory edge to what is a reasonable £30 Afternoon Tea for two. Sandwiches were on white and brown leaving behind any special breads and were filled with the norm of cucumber and salmon etc. but these were done well.

The fruit tarts (raspberry, blueberry and cranberry) were too tart and much too small for one person but the pastry was excellent with no soggy bottoms in sight. The jelly was unrefined but tingled as a necessary palette freshener after the rich and delicious treacle and honeycomb square.


It is obvious that The Gallery Mess is not solely for Afternoon Tea. Although loose leaf and quality for the price, the range of tea is small and the vague history and description of the tea’s given by the staff doesn't cover all bases for an avid and knowledgable tea lover. Despite this however, the staff are the one aspect of the restaurant which prevent it from becoming pretentious and are always on hand for extra cakes - so because of this it was enjoyable having an Earl Grey without any frills.


Sorcha-Mae Stott-Strzala is a videographer and live artist. Her work in hospitality and the food industry combined with working in the arts, has lead to a diverse range of performance and video, exhibited in and around London and Manchester. More information about her current project TINATA (This Is Not A Take Away) can be found at: http://thisisnotatakeaway.com/

Twitter: @TINATA12


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