Annies has been on my list of afternoon teas to try for a while now, and in my quest to sample and review as many as I can, I nabbed a table there a few weeks ago.
Nestled in a side street off just off St Anne’s Square, the location gives you the feeling of stumbling upon a hidden gem.
It’s popular though and when I’ve popped in on the off chance of a table I’ve been disappointed.
This time round, I thought I’d played it safe by reserving a table online. Unfortunately it wasn’t clear from the website whether my table would be in the restaurant as opposed to the quirkier upstairs tea room. I hadn’t even realised there was a downstairs until I’d completed the booking process.
I tried to get in touch with Annies via their website but my message went unanswered and when we arrived we were shown to the restaurant. Not to be put off, we found some comfy chairs to settle in to and, in the interests of indulgence, ordered the champagne afternoon tea.
For the friends I was eating with it was their first introduction to afternoon tea. I probably should have played safe and chosen somewhere I’ve been before, but with such good reviews, and my preference to eat in new places as much as I can, I thought I was on to a sure thing with Annies.
It didn’t take long for our food to arrive and there is always something a little bit exciting about being presented with 3 tiers of sandwiches and cake.
When it came to the eating however, I was underwhelmed.
The traditional selection of sandwiches, including beef and horseradish, smoked salmon, ham and mustard, weren’t much to write home about. Except the cheese and onion, I’m not sure what was going on there but it was probably the stand out flavour from the whole meal.
The cake selection was also fairly typical. A chocolate eclair, a custard tart and a mini Victoria sponge. There was of course a scone, with a reasonable helping of cream and jam, but it was a touch overcooked.
Annies did enough to convince my friends of the joy that is afternoon tea but, dare I say this…
I didn’t feel that the experience offered any more than all those other places that have jumped on the afternoon tea bandwagon. It might seem easy to put together a tiered plate of sandwiches and cakes, serve them with a small pot of tea and sell them at elevated prices, but there are places that do this exceptionally well, and alongside them, Annies was only OK.
For me, it’s all about attention to detail. Quality food, giant scones, plenty of cream and jam (or I will be asking for more), a bottomless pot of tea, and cakes that offer the wow factor. To stand out against so much competition the food, and the experience, needs to overcome that feeling of seen it all before.
Annies Restaurant & Tea Shop:
Afternoon tea: £19.95 per person
Champagne afternoon tea: £24.95 per person
5 Old Bank Street, Manchester, M2 7PE, Tel: 0161 839 4423
Sorry Annies, you won’t be making it on to my list of best afternoon teas.