There's been a changing of the guard at Manchester House. After four years as Head Chef, Aiden Byrne has stepped in to an advisory role with parent company Living Ventures to be replaced by his understudy Nathaniel Tofan.
We’re not expecting massive alterations at the Spinningfields eatery, but there will be menu tweaks, and first to get a revamp is their Afternoon Tea offering- just in time for the festive period. I’m never averse to getting on the fizz at midday at the best of times but it’s Christmas, so last weekend we figured we better sample the new spread.
The savoury selection’s most eye-catching item has to be the warm bloody mary shot. A tasty, tangy tomato soup with bison vodka jellys that dissolve on the tongue. I’d have preferred a bowl of the stuff to dip my butties in to be honest, it was snowing outside the window after all. It felt a bit like a posh boozy version of Heinz cream of tomato. Please bear in mind this is no complaint on my behalf.
A chicken and tarragon brioche sub roll was solid enough, however I usually find the finger sandwiches at Afternoon Tea a bit too dainty for my tastes, if I’m honest and these were certainly that. Fair enough cut the crusts off, however let’s get a bit more filling in there, if it were to spill out slightly everything will be ok. I promise. No one ever dazzled the world with wafer thin ham.
The cakes and desserts though are where the fun really starts, and each one is mightily impressive in its own way. First the millionaires Manjari chocolate mousse was light but rich with velvety milk chocolate. The choc shot is sweetened further by a piped panna cotta swirl of vanilla, crunchy caramel balls and topped with a shard of white chocolate and real gold leaf. Hot pink and lemon coloured Battenberg followed, a rose and grapefruit flavoured take on the classic cake. Perhaps my favourite of the lot combined frail choux pastry with the mulled wine aroma of spiced plum and fragrant Matcha tea- a perfect little profiterole-style bite.
Cream tea style scones with the trimmings are a must have and these were good ones too. Not too dense and just the right amount of dried fruit, plus the accompanying clotted cream tasted sufficiently sinful. I reckon I saved the best till last with the Manchester Tart though. A crown of crisp feather-light raspberry meringue and fresh fruit sat atop a buttery soft little custard tart was the perfect combination of textures and sweet with savoury.
To finish we toasted the view with Veuve Cliquot, if there’s a better vantage point for Afternoon Tea than this in Manchester I haven’t seen it. The adapted line up of treats is nicely judged, especially the sweet stuff, which is seriously good. I’m looking forward to seeing what else Nathaniel Tofan brings to the table at Manchester House.
18-22 Bridge St, Manchester M3 3BZ
0161 835 2557