“We’ve prepared the Classic afternoon tea for you,” said the maitre d’. “You didn’t select a preference”.
I did wonder if I had missed an option on the online booking form when I booked a table at the Hotel Brooklyn. So, I checked while I waited for the pre-prepared afternoon tea to be brought to the table.
As of the late May Bank Holiday wrekend you could select “Afternon Tea” – but it certainly was not clear that you needed to specify Classic or Brooklyn before you arrive. I’m not usually certain several weeks in advance of the actual booking what I will want to eat. On the day, I quite fancied the Brooklyn menu, for a change.
The maitre d’ left at 3pm and as I’d arrived just before, maybe that’s why I wasn’t offered the cocktail option either. He probably wanted to finish his shift for the day – which I can fully sympathise with.
I decided not to pursue the cocktail. I decided that I wasn’t in a hurry to linger.
Indoor dining resumed on the 17th May and I wanted to have an afternoon tea in Manchester as soon as I could. I’d been torn between going with old favorites or trying somewhere new, and decided to go with the latter.
I’ve eaten my way around most of Manchester’s afternoon teas but never blogged about them. There’s some that are likely to feature in here at some point (I was at the Midland in October for my birthday and I’ll definitelybe going to the Lowry at some point too), but there are others that I will not going back to, even for the sake of a comprehensive overview.
Brooklyn is going for an American vibe rather than a classic afternoon tea vibe and the restaurant feels like a diner, which makes a change from the traditional setting. The pricing is at the cheaper end of Manchester afternoon teas but, while you do get what you pay for, I think there are a few basics that need to be right.
For example, I was less than happy with the sticky teapot and neither was the waitress who also asked me what type of tea I would like, returned with a clean and fresh pot, a long with a plate to actually eat from, rather than leaving me to dismantle the tiered tray.
First up, the skewers of sandwiches, yes, skewers… generous fillings… the type your Nana might make for you: ham and tomato, cheese and spring onion, salmon (if your Nana was posh) and egg mayonnaise.
I’m not sure why the skewers were necessary. While there had been no skimping on ingredients, the sandwiches were not in any danger of collapsing without their support.
Onto the scones… light and warm, with clotted cream, but no jam. Yes, I could have asked for some but… I find there is something very disheartening at having to assemble afternoon tea yourself, when you’re in a restaurant.
I was very pleased that the scones were pre-sliced – regular readers may remember that I can make a hell of a crumbly mess when working unsupervised with a knife.
The scones was delicious: I assumed the first to be plain, until I found two sultanas in the second half. A similar ratio was evident in the second scone. (There’d be far more fruit in my Nana’s baking).
Time for the cakes and a complete lack of imagination – two slices of what looked like egg custard and two banoffee pies. Both are desserts that I love bit surely that’s a risk? What if the diner likes neither of the options? At least with a selection of four, unless you’re really unlucky, there’s a good chance that the diner will like at least one of them.
Possibly, bookings were down and it wasn’t worth the effort of making a broader range of cakes? Maybe the kitchen was short staffed?
I definitely think there is room for egg custard at afternoon tea. (It’s that nostalgia thing again). One, it makes a change from endless ganache and mousse, and two, I love egg custard.
The mini banoffee pie was, like the sandwiches, generously filled – creamy banana and toffee filling and topped with a swirl of whipped cream and grated chocolate.
The egg custard, well it wasn’t egg custard: it was a slice of lemon mousse. I think I’d have preferred egg custard, actually, even though it was very tasty though, like the banoffee pie, the pastry was soggy giving what should be a light dessert a very heavy feeling.
I couldn’t eat the remaining two and abandoned them.
Verdict: Brooklyn’s afternoon tea is far from fancy, but it definitely played to my 1980s childhood nostalgia in terms of the offer and the taste of the food. It’s filling for sure but some of the basics need to be put right. £21 for the Classic Afternoon Tea (though I was charged only £19.69), £24 for the version that allegedly comes with a cocktail.
Will I be going back for afternoon tea? I seriously doubt it.