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High Tea At Cloud 23

Is this the swankiest afternoon tea in Manchester?

Published on May 17th 2012.

High Tea At Cloud 23

CLOUD 23 doesn't do afternoon tea, it does high tea. Though not in the traditional meaning of an early evening hot meal. The Cloud 23 High Tea looks a lot like an afternoon tea (savouries, cakes, scones) but elevated to another level, and not just because of the lofty location.

Let's start with that anyway. The view when you step out of the lift, 23 floors above the rest of Mancunia, makes you stand and stare even if you have seen it all before. The excess of daylight up here does something good to your brain chemicals. And thankfully, they've resisted crowding the place with too many tables. They were doing a brisk trade when we visited on a Tuesday afternoon, but in our corner of Cloud 23, we felt luxuriously secluded.

We ordered one of the more unusual blends, a Russian Caravan tea, and a classic Earl Grey. The waitress brought them over in infuser pots then flipped the egg timer (tea timer?) on the table so that we'd know when they'd reached their optimum strength.

She also brought us glasses of champagne with a strawberry garnish that matched the red accents of the décor. If they'd set an egg timer to tell us when these were ready to drink, it would have been ignored.

Champagne at high altitude at midday on an empty stomach – it was a dizzyingly decadent start. The food arrived before we got too light-headed. A triple-layered cake stand holding a dainty collection of delicacies, with a further selection of sweet treats on the side.

Unlike many afternoon teas which stick doggedly to sandwiches, Cloud 23 serves an assortment of savouries. A cheese and onion pasty, and a salmon, dill and cucumber tartlet sat alongside a vegetable and hummus wrap, and beef and horseradish sandwiches. The quality was evident in the light, flaky pastry and the satisfying flakes of fresh salmon in the tartlet. Much care and attention had gone into every element of this miniature feast.

A quadruple serving of cakes came next – a delicate pineapple and coconut sponge, a lemon meringue tart with candied lime ribbons, a date cake with walnuts, and a treacle tart. They were all good but this last one stood out.

A gooey, balanced middle was topped with a spoonful of crème fraîche, topped by a raspberry, topped by a chocolate flourish and gold leaf. It was almost too pretty to eat but too tasty not to.

The just-baked scones were served warm with clotted cream, Tiptree strawberry jam and fresh strawberries. Like everything else we ate there, they were pretty much perfect.

Cloud 23 gets booked up well in advance for its High Teas so plan ahead if you want to go on a weekend. Weekdays are less busy and somehow feel more decadent. Sipping champagne and nibbling on cakes while the rest of the city is hard at it far below is something everyone ought to do at least once. If you're anything like us, you won't want to come back down.

The Champagne High Tea at Cloud 23 costs £26.95 (£16.95 without champagne). It's available from midday to 4pm every day. Advance booking is essential. Please call 0161 870 1700.

Cloud 23 is serving a special Jubilee High Tea from 25 May to 8 June which includes a glass of Gin Champagne Fizz, sandwiches with classic fillings, Jubilee trifle, a strawberry tart, Victoria sponge, Royal iced fruit cake, a selection of Twinings Teas and a Pimms cocktail. This costs £30 per person. Find out more.

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