Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Afternoon Tea at the Victoria and Albert Marriott, Manchester

Experience Days
One of the wonderful perks of being a food blogger, is all the weird and wonderful edible escapades I get sent on. A few weeks ago, I was asked by the online gurus at Experience Days to review one of their products. I had a look at their website, and was drawn to the word 'Gourmet'. As if they had read my mind, my friend Emma had been telling me how she longed to go for afternoon tea at one of the hotels in Manchester. It was decided. We were off for afternoon tea at the Manchester Victoria and Albert Marriott.

Before making our trip I had a quick look at the package online, which has all the information you will need, including how to find them, the dress code and how long your experience is likely to last. Within a couple of days, a beautiful gift certificate arrived, complete with an information pack about afternoon tea at the Marriott. It certainly beats printing off a voucher!

We indulged ourselves and booked an afternoon off work, in favour of sitting by the river Irwell, sipping tea and nibbling on sweet treats. We were ridiculously early, but were seated with no issues and asked whether we preferred a booth by the window or a seat on the patio outside. Not a fan of wasps who are keen on jam, we opted for the comfortable inside booth.
Afternoon Tea at the Victoria and Albert Marriott, Manchester
I expected the Marriott to look a little like Alan Partridge's travel tavern. I'm not sure why, but I was a little shocked when the pretty receptionist didn't look like Susan. It's far removed from a roadside stopover. Inside is modern, with Laura Ashley-esque wallpaper and plush velvet chairs.

We were offered drinks (tea of course) and our platter arrived almost immediately. There was a good selection, including macarons, brownies, fruit, Victoria sponges, custard tartlets, scones with clotted cream and jam, and finger sandwiches. The presentation wasn't as pretty as we would have liked, and I did wonder whether they had borrowed some of Alan's big plates for the stand. It would have been nice to see a bit of something with a vintage edge, or even a hint of a doily.
Afternoon Tea at the Victoria and Albert Marriott, Manchester
The scones were of good quality (albeit a little uneven in size and shape) and were served with Tiptree strawberry jam and clotted cream. Brownie points for clotted cream... These were lovely, although I broke my own golden rule and put the jam on first. This only served to confirm that this far inferior to the cream then jam method. I made a right ruddy mess of the bugger!

We both enjoyed all the petit four style cakes, with particular attention being paid to the chocolate macaron: chewy and slightly nutty with a subtle cocoa flavour. The sandwiches were a bit of a let down I'm afraid. They must have been pre-made and popped in the fridge a couple of hours before we arrived, because they were cold and hard around the edges - easily avoided by not chilling them. We had the choice of egg mayonnaise, beef and horseradish and salmon and cream cheese.
Afternoon Tea at the Victoria and Albert Marriott, Manchester
When we had finished, we sat and pondered the outcome of our little trip. We enjoyed most of the food put in front of us, the surroundings were comfortable and our waitress was lovely. We would have liked to have picked the type of tea we were offered, and for the serving receptacles to be a little prettier, but this seemed to be a very modern take on the traditional 'afternoon tea'.

This gift experience would be nice if you were either staying at the hotel, or for a post shopping trip pit stop. It costs £56 from the Experience Days website, which includes everything pictured above. It would be ideal for those who are not keen on the Northern Quarter tea room scene, or if you fancy sitting by the river and watching the world go by.

Thank you to the folks at Experience Days for valuing my humble opinion, and to my buddy Emma for accompanying me in fleeing from work and testing cake. We had a lovely afternoon at the Marriott, followed by a little shopping before trotting home.

Disclaimer: Really. I was asked to go and test cake!? Me! With my 'pig of the week' reputation. Experience Days gave me a free voucher for an experience of my choice. I chose Afternoon Tea in Manchester, because it is something I would have done anyway. Zorbing down a hill really wasn't my thing.

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  1. What a lovely afternoon Rachel. Shame about the sardines but everything is always made all right when clotted cream is involved! Vohn x


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