In a city dominated by cutting-edge cuisine and state-of-the-art cocktail mixology, you’d be forgiven for finding yourself craving a more traditional experience. The newly-launched Midland Tea Room is precisely that.
Of course, Manchester’s historic Midland Hotel has been serving up afternoon teas for years – over 110 of them at last count – but earlier this year, it was decided to revamp a former events space and create Manchester’s only dedicated afternoon tea room.
The result is breathtaking. Every element is tailored around the classic tearoom experience, from a gentle soundtrack of swing and jazz music, to grand views of the city’s historic St Peter’s square. The room is bright and open, with delightfully polite staff, well-versed in etiquette without being any stuffiness.
A platter of sandwiches, some brightly coloured desserts and cakes, and a selection of scones
There are two main afternoon tea menus on offer, as well as vegan, vegetarian and children’s options. Standard afternoon tea, at £25 per person, and the champagne afternoon tea, which comes with a glass of Montaudon Cuvee Brut, for £32 per person. Both offer up a platter of sandwiches, some brightly coloured desserts and cakes, and a selection of scones. There’s even a special scone of the day, which during our visit was an unusual but delicious pineapple and mango.
This comes with the customary clotted cream and a selection of jams. And of course, an endless supply of tea, chosen from the ten blends on offer. The gentle but potent Earl Grey is an especially good match for the thick buttery scones.
The sandwiches are light and fresh, sliced into hearty rectangular slabs – no fancy newfangled shapes here. The malt loaf sandwich, containing cucumber, apple chutney and Hendricks gin, is a good example of their “traditional but modern” ethos, with a unique combination of classic ingredients that makes for something fresh and exciting but at the same time, classically British.
The desserts continue this time-honoured feel, with gelatine, mousse and poppyseed cakes all making an appearance. There are plenty of big bold colours: technicolour pinks, vivid yellows and dark velvet browns. The clear winner is the pecan pie, which boasts a see-through amber jelly ball on top of a swirl of whipped cream, sat on some wickedly salty caramel biscuit.
A gentle, Enid Blyton style glimpse into our nation’s most-loved meal
With its bone china and crisp linen, the whole experience has a pre-Beeching, high-class railway café feel. If you’re looking for a boisterous dining experience, with all manner of 21st century gadgets and modern fripperies, go elsewhere. However, if you want a gentle, Enid Blyton style glimpse into our nation’s most-loved meal, an afternoon at the Midland Tea Room comes highly recommended.