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Afternoon tea at the Lowry Hotel

Simon Binns gets patriotic over a finger sandwich

Written by . Published on December 8th 2010.


Afternoon tea at the Lowry Hotel

Standing in a queue in a chain coffee shop not too long ago, I despaired.

Someone wanted a sachet of ‘mayo’ for their sandwich, clearly too busy to squeeze out the extra syllable. They wanted their mochafrappalatte with ‘whip’ (what???) and worse still, ‘to go.’

What’s happened? When did America win the battle for our lexicon? Is nothing sacred anymore.

So when an invite from The Lowry Hotel came through, asking if I’d like to sample the hotel’s new afternoon tea, I vigorously accepted - via something called email, a new-fangled version of your standard telegram.

I’d been telling a decidedly unconvinced Gordo a week earlier that afternoon tea is the new rock and roll. He gave me one of those looks he often gives me, like when I told him I liked A-ha, or suggested we hire a solicitor to look over most of his copy.

I always feel there’s something of the Empire about the River Restaurant whenever I go in. When I’m older, I want to be like the people sat in here, eating finger sandwiches and scones and pouring loose leaf tea through small silver strainers in the mid-afternoon.

The Lowry’s new afternoon tea selection (£19.95) offers a range of teas, finger sarnies and an assortment of ‘fancies and pastries.’ Now you’re talking. Throw in a scone as well and we’re in business.

I upgraded mine to the champagne afternoon tea (£29.95), which meant I started with refreshing glass of Billecarte-Salmon sparkling stuff and fresh strawberries and cream. Luscious.

Then came the selection of sandwiches – ham and mustard, smoked salmon and lemon crème fraiche, cucumber and cream cheese and cheese and tomato. I passed on the egg mayonnaise, largely because my abiding memory of that variety of sandwich is a school coach trip to Granada Studios circa 1991, when Matthew Evans rolled his clingflim-wrapped butty into a ball and flung it at Sarah Birkbeck mid-transit.

In Redcar, this is a mating ritual. He missed, however, and it splattered against the coach window, filling the vehicle with a putrid egg smell for the next 60 miles of motorway.

The selection we were served looked far neater and tasted much nicer, and once they were cleared off, it was the turn of the show-stopping sweets.

We were treated to a blackforest gateaux mousse (light, zingy, dish of the day); a white chocolate and passionfruit delice (sharp, sticky, pretty) and a raspberry cupcake.

Oh no. Not another cupcake. But this particular fancy redeemed itself. Beneath the buttermilk icing and fluffy sponge lay a plump, fresh raspberry, right in the epicentre of the cake. Thank god. Not another CFC after all.

I was stuffed, and normally after cake, it would be time to leave. “Just let me know when you want the warm scones and preserves,” said the Very Nice Waiter Man looking after us.

Scones! Of course. There wasn’t much stomach capacity left, but this was work, and I take my work very seriously. It was my duty to eat those scones.

I needn’t have been worried. These scones – one fruit, one plain – were so light, so perfect, that they barely registered. The clotted cream and fruit preserves were a triumph too. I could have gone for a couple more, actually.

I supped the last of my blackcurrant and hibiscus tea and felt a swell of pride. Those high society types back in the early nineteenth century were on to something.

In a time where the world is constantly changing, it’s good to have a bit of tradition in your life every now and then. And this is a cracking place to start.

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????December 8th 2010.

£29.95????

DidsburyGirlDecember 9th 2010.

Took my mum for this a few months ago, and it was AMAZING. I think it was worth every penny of the £29.95 as we were sat there for hours chatting, eating, drinking and listening to the piano drifting through from the bar...

Suzanne AckermanDecember 9th 2010.

Have been going to the Lowry for afternoon tea for ages (experimented with the Radisson Edwardian a few months back but Lowry beats that). It is extremely good value and they will tweak the menu and bring you extras of things like the scones if you can eat them. My sister's record is 8 plain scones plus everything else in one sitting!
However they have amended the times now so that it starts at 2pm which means you can get a bit lost in the lunches. Suggest booked at 15.00 - 17.00. Plus if you go mid week you will normally see lots footballers having their team meetings there including a certain Traffordian one!

TallyhoDecember 10th 2010.

I went to Cloud 23 for afternoon tea last week, it was great, so many good things to eat and the views were amazing, it was light when we arrived and dark when we left, afternoon tea is definately the new rock n roll

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