Last month I was lucky enough to visit the Midland Hotel for an event with Quinteassential. Bernadine, the talent behind the fabulous teas not only showcased those that she had created specifically for the Midland itself, drawing on the history of the hotel and it’s character, but there was opportunity to blend our own tea recipe.
Unfortunately, as I only had a finite amount of time away from the office, I couldn’t remain and indulge in the full afternoon tea experience, something that this week, myself and friend Abi needed sought to rectify. We booked in and on a dark, grey and damp Monday afternoon left work to seek comfort in tea, cakes and a little luxury.
Afternoon tea is served in the main area of the hotel, in the lounge area to the left of the entrance. I must admit to a fondness for the building itself – it retains so many little elements of it’s various refurbishments, from the clean Art Deco lines of the Concierge Desk, to the pillars, and the polished brass fittings. The Midland wears it’s age well.
It also, since the opening of The Spa at the Midland, has a little extra something that I must admit to appreciating – even when I walk past the building, I recognise the Espa scent. It wafts gently around the building, and as my favourite spa brand, it almost has a Pavlovian response, automatically relaxing my tense muscles and the frown lines on my face.
Seated with a perfect view to watch people coming and going in the main foyer, our server Caroline seated us, explained the menu, and discreetly looked after us during our visit, offering that lovely balance of attentive service, without being overly intrusive.
We opted for the Champagne Afternoon Tea, which is £25.95 per person, a little treat to help blow away the Monday blues – and with a sherry aperitif to wake our tastebuds, they weren’t blown away, more softly excused from the room.
The tea that I had selected to sip was Due North, one of the Quinteassential blends created specially for the Midland Hotel, a deliciously smoky tea with Lapsang Souchong and whiskey flavours, a great contrast to the sweetness of the cakes.
For anyone who watched the documentary series featuring the Midland Hotel, the cake stands may be a little familiar – the replacement of the traditional style having caused a bit of a stir. The stands hold the majority of your sandwiches and cakes – the scones arriving neatly packaged in a napkin to keep them warm
Also arriving separately was the Vimto jelly – another new element that caused a stir during the documentary. A soft, gently sweet jelly, topped with a vanilla cream, it’s been made very well, the flavour is there, but it’s not overly sugary or powerful – given the fruity nature of the soft drink, it would have been very easy to overdo it.
As I was dining with a vegetarian friend, our sandwiches were a little different. The traditional cucumber (a favourite of mine I must admit) were accompanied by egg mayonnaise and cress, which suited us both, and others including cheese and pickle, ham and mustard. We then had a selection of crostini and wraps to nibble on.
The scones (one fruited, one plain) were fabulous – biscuity, but not dry at all, very reminiscent of my mum’s own favoured recipe, so it was a little taste of home in glamorous surroundings – slathered in cream and a dot of jam (my personally preferred serving style), the combination was perfect.
Returning to the stand, we had our dainty cakes to savour. The pavlova – a meringue nest filled with raspberry cream and topped with a fresh raspberry was a crisp, powdery mouthful, the chocolate orange opera cake was deliciously layered, sweet and rich, the carrot cake moist, perfectly dense and nutty.
We lingered as long as we dared, contemplating a second glass of Champagne, but slowly, the soporific effect of the comfortable softa, sweet cakes and tea had their way with our senses and we admitted defeat.
Overall, we had a lovely lazy evening, indulgent, and the ideal antidote to a hard day in the office. Whether you’re looking for the same effect, or a refresher after a hard mornings’ shopping, or just a little time out, we can heartily recommend it.
It works a treat.
All the food and drink consumed were paid for by ourselves.