Rejoice! There’s an afternoon tea offering in Manchester that eschews crustless cucumber sandwiches and dry scones. It’s the autumnal-themed tea at Hilton Deansgate.
To be honest, I don’t usually ask much of an afternoon tea. So long as there’s er, tea, a bit of bubbly, a few sarnies and a range of delectable wee cakes, I’m in clover. But I’ve come a cropper in the past when it comes to Manchester’s afternoon teas. Stale butties spring to mind (courtesy of one of the city’s premier hotels) as do lukewarm brews. Granted, this is most definitely a first-world problem but when you’re shelling out around £20-£30, you expect a decent spread.
And so to Bubbles and Berries at Cloud 23. As the name suggests, this is dining à la high-up in’t sky, something which initially gives my mum a bit of the wibbles. I recall feeling the same at Tower 42 in that there London but, then as now, a few sips of champers soon calms the nerves. Today it’s Perrier-Jouët, quite possibly one of the most quaffable champagnes on the market and the partner for Hilton Deansgate‘s seasonal tea. Then we’re on to the main event.
The menu promises greatness. Among the goodies on offer are caviar blinis with pomegranate pearls, mini bagels with cream cheese and beetroot cured salmon as well as pink Champagne and blueberry jelly shots and the obligatory scones, although this time with Kir Royale clotted cream and raspberry jam. As I remind my mum, it’s a marathon not a sprint.
I cast my eye over to the couple next to us enjoying their traditional afternoon tea. I’ll not lie – I feel a teeny bit smug that me and my mum have the deluxe option. As we content ourselves with morsel after delicious morsel, I solicit Mrs Nugent’s opinion on the delights before us. After all, this is a baker who could give Mary Berry a run for her money. “Mmmm,” is all I can elicit. Job done, then.
By Helen Nugent, Editor of Northern Soul
Bubbles and Berries costs £35