One of my favourite things to do at the weekend is go out for Afternoon Tea. I don’t get to do it as much as I would like, but it is a wonderfully decadent occasion, and one which should be savoured.
I was lucky to receive an Afternoon Tea of my choice as a Christmas present from my Brother.
Wanting to try somewhere different I decided to book a table at Épernay, which only started serving Afternoon Tea in October 2014 and is therefore, relatively speaking, new to the Manchester Afternoon Tea scene. I was able to make the booking online, and it didn’t take long for the reservation to be confirmed – always a good start in my book.
When we arrived there was only one other family in the bar area but the dining area was empty. Luckily we could see that several other parties had booked tables so we weren’t on our own for long.
The space is light and bright with floor to ceiling windows. It’s a relaxed environment to while away a few hours.
The staff were attentive, friendly and quick to provide us with cocktails and cucumber water to enjoy while we perused the menu.
The menu, as is typical of Afternoon Tea, promised a “platter of our classic sandwiches…accompanied by a selection of our home made cakes and scones.” For £22.00 you are also treated to champagne or a cocktail, and a pot of tea or a coffee.
Our Afternoon Tea arrived on the traditional 3 tiered cake stand. It was attractively presented but I couldn’t help but feel that it would have looked even more luxurious with a bit more colour.
The sandwiches were tasty, although the mustard somewhat overpowered the delicious, thickly sliced ham.
It was quickly on to the scones, which were already filled with cream and jam. The cream was the kind of light fluffy cream you get from a can and there was only a small spread of jam. OK, but you can’t beat lashings of clotted cream and a large dollop of strawberry jam.
On to the cakes; we had a strawberry tart, a custard slice and an iced sponge cake. Each were tasty but very similar in their vanilla flavours, making them a little uninspiring. I would like to have seen a wider variety of cakes and pastries, with a bit more flourish.
Finally, we were served a pot of tea to wash it all down.
To me, Afternoon Tea is all about over indulgence. I always want to leave feeling like I couldn’t fit in another bite. Épernay did not fulfil my expectations here. Yes, there was enough food and I wasn’t hungry afterwards, but for me, that’s not quite the point.
Don’t get me wrong, it would be the perfect place to spend an afternoon with friends, sipping champagne and nibbling at the cakes, but I’d probably want to have eaten lunch first.
With such a wide selection of places to enjoy Afternoon Tea all over Manchester, restaurants need to offer something a little bit special if they truly want to compete. Afternoon Tea at Épernay was enjoyable, in fact it was very good, but it was just a little underwhelming.
Afternoon Tea £22.00 per head
Unit 1a, Great Northern Tower, Watson Street, Manchester, M3 4EE. Tel: 0161 834 8802
Love cake? Check out my guide to the best afternoon teas in Manchester.