Am I ashamed of that? A little, but when your job dangles these things in front of your face all day it is almost impossible not to feel the tiniest pang of jealousy. That and I am from Cheshire- the desire to eat afternoon tea is sort of in my blood.
But recently, I popped down to The Midland Hotel for what they call their ‘Evening Tea’ which seems to be my knight in shining armour. Served between 5:30 pm and 7 pm it makes the perfect way to get your tea-fix outside of standard working hours.
And it has all the finesse you expect from a proper afternoon tea at an establishment like The Midland. First off, the room is beautiful and harks back to some bygone era where everyone wore white gloves and refrained from swearing. The service was impeccable with knowledgeable and attentive staff and the chefs counter where the pastry chefs worked was a nice touch.
The evening tea comes in a vegetarian and non-vegetarian variety. We went for the latter which came with three hot and three cold choices when it came to the savouries. The Ox cheek and blue cheese croquette was favourite of ours as it was succulent, with a melt-in-the-mouth centre, a crisp outer shell and the faintest hint of blue cheese which was far from overpowering.
The hot section also came with royal salmon with a Hendriks gin and apple chutney and buttermilk fried chicken with a syringe of sriracha mayo. This was a nice modern twist on the traditional afternoon tea, which granted, I did not expect from The Midland. Top marks all around.
On the cold section of the savouries, we sampled three sandwiches- all of which were inspired and delicious. Honey baked gammon & pickled cabbage, chicken mango & coriander and asparagus, artichoke & parmesan with cured egg yolk on a brioche bun were the three choices. The latter was the standout star- I could have eaten ten.
It is important to point out here that this evening tea comes with a couple of paired gin and tonics too. The first was designed to go with the savouries which was Manchester Three Rivers Gin paired with black pepper, rosemary, apricots and Mediterranean tonic. This was not too sweet and went with the food perfectly.
Next up we went for the scones with clotted cream and a range of homemade jams. I went for Damson jam– just for something a bit different, and I am so glad I did. The other sweet choices included an elderflower & gooseberry cake which was a revelation and tasted like a mouthful of summer.
I could go on for hours and hours about how delicious the dark chocolate and salted caramel tart was too. The pastry was absolutely perfect, the filling bitter and oozy and the salted caramel mousse that sat on top cutting through the chocolate to tickle every taste bud on your tongue. This little tart should be on the list of things to eat before you die.
The sweets are served with another gin and tonic of Brockmans gin with dehydrated strawberries, blackberries and raspberries with Fever Tree Tonic… naturally. Although this was designed to be paired with the sweet-treats, we decided to take our tea instead and have this one as a little disgestivo after we finished the food- which worked just as well.
All in all, The Midland Hotel’s evening tea as everything I wished for and designed with busy people with hectic schedules in mind. So next time you make dinner plans with a friend or loved one, make sure you keep it in mind because it certainly won’t let you down and I will indeed be back there before the month is up.
The Tea Room at The Midland Hotel, 16 Peter St, Manchester M60 2DS
0161 236 3333