When a new venue opens for afternoon tea it quickly becomes my mission to check it out. King Street Townhouse opened its doors for the first time in December and held its official launch party on 15 January. It’s the latest venture from Eclectic Hotels, the chain behind Didsbury House and Great John Street Hotels.
King Street Townhouse has attracted a lot of attention, in part because it’s the first hotel in Manchester to feature a rooftop infinity pool, boasting views out to the Town Hall. You have to stay in the hotel to be allowed access to the pool and, with the price of the rooms hard to justify when you live 10 minutes outside the city on the train, I’m still searching for an excuse!
When it comes to afternoon tea I don’t need much of a reason. Although an email from Bookatable offering afternoon tea for £17.50 per person instead of the usual price of £21.50 (available until 29 February 2016) conveniently coincided with my birthday celebrations.
Afternoon tea is served in the lounge, adjacent to the hotel’s Tavern Restaurant. It’s an inviting and cosy setting with beautifully laid tables, interesting knick knacks to catch the eye, and tasteful tributes to Manchester and its musical heritage.
Unfortunately the tables and chairs are very low, which for a family rather tall in stature, the boy being almost 6’5”, made it feel a bit like we were eating with our knees round our ears; not ideal when you are about to overindulge on tea and cake.
The beautiful table settings also caused some minor issues for the staff. They had to reorganise everything to fit the enormous plates of sandwiches, a plate of scones, and the tiered cake stand on to the table, which unfortunately saw our waitress resting the cake stand on the floor while we made room – not a real problem but something that with a bit of planning should have been avoided.
That being said, the service was amazing. After we were shown to our table we ordered tea and coffee straight away and were given as long as we wanted to chat before the food arrived. We were made to feel very welcome and as if nothing was too much trouble – although the waitress did go a little too far when she explained that the afternoon tea had been prepared in the morning so it could be served whenever we wanted it. It doesn’t surprise me that afternoon teas are prepared in advance but you can sometimes be given too much information.
Preparation ahead of time did nothing to spoil the food. I’ve already made reference to the huge plate of sandwiches, filled with ham and mustard, beef and horseradish (which was a touch overwhelming), egg, smoked salmon and cream cheese, and cheese and chutney. The bread was soft and thickly sliced, making the sandwiches a far cry from the weedy offerings you sometimes see with afternoon tea.
We followed the sandwiches with delicious scones. They were a touch warm, crumbly and full of fruit. And, where this place really excelled, we were each provided with our own pots of clotted cream and jam. There was plenty of it, which meant that, for once, I didn’t have to ask for more – result!
Just as we were preparing to tuck in to the beautiful cakes one of the waiters surreptitiously swapped my plate for a special birthday platter, with the words ‘Happy Birthday’ piped on to it in chocolate fondant, two squares of nutty chocolate brownie and a strawberry – a complete surprise and a lovely touch.
On to the cakes and we nibbled our way through a selection that included a creamy chocolate slice, a passion fruit sponge, a sort of raspberry profiterole and an apple macaron. The sweet tray was also dotted with redcurrants and physalis to add a slightly healthy touch and some sharp flavours to cut through all that sugar.
Our tea and coffee pots were replenished throughout the meal, which is essential when you are eating so much cake. We’d have happily sat for a while longer but the dining area was very warm, and after all that food it became uncomfortable.
Teething issues aside, this was one of the best afternoon teas I’ve enjoyed in Manchester. The decadent surroundings and the gorgeous food were just perfect for a special occasion. I will definitely be returning, offer or no offer. For the quality, in my view, it’s well worth the price.
King Street Townhouse: 10 Booth Street, Manchester, Upper King Street conservation area, M2 4AW, Tel: 0161 667 0707
Bookatable offer: Afternoon tea for £17.50 per head available until 29 February 2016.
Love cake? Check out my guide to the best afternoon teas in Manchester.