Tea 42

Kate Feld
Interior of tea room and restaurant Tea 42

This newly opened café in Manchester’s Northern Quarter wasn’t our food enthusiast’s cup of tea.

Marble tabletops and bespoke white leather chairs. A Rob Ryan-style frieze of the Manchester skyline wrapping around the room. Street signs pointing the way to Darjeeling and Assam. This, my friends, is new arrival Tea 42, and it’s quite the spectacle. There are mystifying black and white photographs of pretty people and horrible verse with puns and hashtags on the walls. No ‘cute’ or ‘fun’ stone has been left unturned. They’ve all been turned over, buffed up and painted pink or white at a total cost of approximately £325,000. The result feels kind of like having tea inside the Barbie Dream House with Barbara Cartland.

All this is clearly targeted at the laydeez in town for shopping at the recently botoxed and vajazzled Arndale across the road. Yes, across the road, cut off by tram tracks, on a grim stretch of no-mans-land between two neighbourhoods. But the location is near Blue Rainbow Aparthotels, whose owners opened the place in November, and plan to roll out 20 more Tea 42s across this happy land, hence the lavish kit out for their mothership.

Tea 42 is like having tea inside the Barbie Dream House with Barbara Cartland

Okay, so the decorating isn’t my thing, but it hasn’t been designed to appeal to people who are happy skulking around Northern Quarter coffee bars full of mismatched furniture and odd smelling dudes. We’re already served by the market. These guys are doing something different, and some people will love it. For instance, if you know a grown woman who shops at the Disney store for herself (I think we all know one), take her here – the Jasmine tea is called Princess Jasmine! It’s one of 25 different loose leaf blends at £3.55 a pop. I had the lemon and apple Oliver Twist while my friend went for Peaches (no cream). They were suitably fragrant and served with honey. Tea-infused cocktails, and regular old wine, beer and cider are also on offer; evening opening is in the works.

The food menu is surprisingly vast, offering sarnies and platters alongside substantial mains like pork belly and braised shin of beef. It’s not what you expect from a tea room, but despite the name this place has aspirations to be the kind of all-rounder where you come for a meal, a snack or some drinks (like another new arrival, SuperStore). We tried the antipasti platter (£14.95), a sharing board featuring decent quality meats and cheeses, disappointing olives, and bread so characterless we basically forgot it was there.

Feeling duty-bound to submit to the high tea experience we worked our way up one of those stacked plate thingies, pricey at £18.95 per person, but we shared one. Ground floor: pleasant enough sandwiches and canapés. First floor: scones. These were good. Massive – slightly too much baking powder maybe – and studded with currants. Be ready to demand more jam and cream, you can’t fit much in the wonton spoons they serve it in. To the penthouse for intensely-sweet gluten-free puddings; Tea 42 offers whole gluten-free menus. We got a wee pink macaroon oozing chocolate, a tiny profiterole, and a miniature brownie that could see an anthill through winter. Weirdly, the doll-sized lemon posset wasn’t sweet enough.

Overall it was a pretty good, if slightly puzzling, experience. Needless to say, it’s back to the mismatched furniture and odd-smelling dudes for me, where my trip to Barbieland will probably come to seem like a sugar-induced hallucination. But you come and have a go, if you think you’re lady enough.

This is an independent review, but our writer didn’t pay for her meal. For more info on our editorial policy, read our About page.

58 High StreetManchesterM4 1EF View map
Visit Now

Venue permanently closed.

What's on near Tea 42

Until
ComedyManchester
The Comedy Vault

Every Monday night upstairs at Fierce Bar, The Comedy Vault hosts an outrageously funny open-mic night. Come and try your hand or just to watch and laugh.

free entry
Until
ComedyManchester
Creatures of the Night Comedy Club

An insanely committed seven-nights-a-week, Creatures of the Night Comedy Club opens its doors (20.30-22.30 typically, though please check) for evening after evening of side-splitting comedy.

from £5.00
MusicCity Centre
Fair Play Festival 2024

Following two sold out festivals, Fair Play is back to take over the Northern Quarter with a day of live music in all its ‘alternative’ forms.

from £15

Where to go near Tea 42

Manchester
Salvi’s Northern Quarter

Salvi’s Northern Quarter is the latest addition to the much-loved Salvi’s family, a series of family-run, independent Neapolitan restaurants and delis.

Northern Quarter
Restaurant
Sicilian NQ

Backstreet Italian restaurant on Turner Street in the Northern Quarter with a strong Sicilian influence.

Image of Oklahoma shop in Manchester's Northern Quarter
Manchester
Café or Coffee Shop
Oklahoma

Visit Oklahoma cafe for eclectic gifts and a wide-ranging food menu

Image of Abel Heywood in Manchester's Northern Quarter
Manchester
Bar or Pub
Abel Heywood

Named after Manchester’s one time publisher, radical and mayor Abel Heywood, this Hynes-owned pub and hotel is somewhat more conventionally polished than its namesake.

Manchester
Restaurant
Disorder

Disorder is a new bar and restaurant in the Northern Quarter, based where the old Walrus venue was, with Bryan Barber as executive chef.

Picture of 63 Degrees in Manchester's Northern Quarter
Manchester
Restaurant
63 Degrees

63 Degrees is brings French cuisine to Manchester’s Northern Quarter; the Parisian Moreau family who run it pride themselves on cooking with fresh ingredients.

Wolf At The Door
Manchester
Restaurant
Wolf At The Door

Three storey bar and restaurant on Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter, from the team behind the Wilderness record store and bar in Withington.

Culture Guides

Music in Manchester and the North

Fresh concert seasons, forward-thinking festivals and a revolving door of amazing gigs. Things are looking bright as spring comes into view.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

February is a month of love so art lovers in the North - rejoice! There is lots to choose from: two photography festivals, gorgeous crafts and shows celebrating local talent.