When the Northern Soul Editor was called away at the last minute, our willing Opera Correspondent stepped into her shoes and joined me for mid-morning brunch at Manchester’s Midland Hotel.
On my way, I stopped at the post office at the Town Hall to drop off parcels only to discover that it had closed days earlier. And so I arrived at the hotel with the parcels still under my arm. Without a second thought, the concierge smilingly took them from me (I hasten to add that they were already correctly weighed and stamped) and pointed me towards The Tea Room.
I was early so I sent a message to the Opera Correspondent. “I’m at the wrong hotel!” came his reply. As I dialled his number, The Midland’s food and beverage Manager, Martin, came to ask if I was Helen. “Yes,” I mimed, as I finished my conversation. After coming clean and as I waited for the Opera Correspondent to beetle his way along Peter Street, Martin appeared with strong, creamy and extremely tasty coffee. Not bitter. Not watery. Not burnt.
Brunch is priced at £19 but offers excellent value for that investment and there is even a vegan option. The Midland Hotel is rightly famous for its afternoon teas and this new brunch service has a similar concept. The bite-sized elements are presented on the three-tiered tea-stand (not sure if that’s the technical term) and explained and served to us by the excellent and knowledgeable Jessica.
We had a mix of vegan and traditional brunch elements. I started with the miniature pot of warm porridge made with almond milk and served with berries. A delight. Then the scrambled egg with smoked salmon served on a mini bagel that was crunchy on the outside and had the correct amount of chewiness inside. Meanwhile, the brioche French toast with a light dusting of cinnamon was delicious, although I only managed one mouthful before the Opera Correspondent had snaffled the rest. He pronounced the baked egg with chorizo, spinach and mushroom perfect and the waffle with bacon and maple syrup the correct mix of sweet and salty.
From the vegan menu, I plumped for the smashed avocado (more creamed that smashed) on amazing pumpernickel rye with vegan bacon (lovely salty taste but what is vegan bacon?) and a kick of chilli and lime. Tiny pancakes were served with blueberry compote and cream and the granola with fruit and yogurt was terrific.
When I thought I could eat no more, Jessica returned with cheese scones fresh from the oven. I had mine with salted butter, but they also offered pancetta butter. The Opera Correspondent declined his scone, so Jessica boxed it up for me to take home.
There was no shortage of liquid to accompany brunch. I’ve already mentioned the coffee, but there was also a shot of seasonal fruit smoothie and then there was the tea. They serve six different loose-leaf tea blends including three which are exclusive to the hotel. I opted for Due North which is apparently ‘inspired by great British railway travels, gentlemen in top hats with cigars and whisky glasses in hand’. The blend is a deep and smoky Chinese Lapsong Suchong with a touch of whisky. Amazing.
There’s also a £20 bottomless drinks option of Prosecco, Mimosa, Bellini, Bloody Mary or draught beer which would be great for a birthday or similar treat. But it didn’t seem like an appropriate way to start an ordinary Tuesday.
Brunch is served every day at the Tea Room at the Midland between 10.30 and 13.30. £19 per person. Additional £20 per person for bottomless drinks.