It’s 20 years since the Lowry was built and it has built quite the reputation for being a five star celebrity destination in Manchester.
Jose Mourinho stayed there for 900 days rather than finding somewhere to live when he was Manchester United’s manager. Robbie Williams said the shower was big enough to hold a party in.
And there have been more showbiz and sports stars visited this fantastic jewel in Manchester’s Crown than you shake a very big stick at.
Except it isn’t in Manchester.
It’s in Salford.
It’s the only five star hotel in Salford. The River Irwell flowing through the Manchester (and Salford) city centres marks the boundary between the two cities.
It’s also (probably less noteworthy) one of my two favourite venues for afternoon tea in Manchester (well, Salford) and it’s been over two years since I had been there (travelling and Pandemic/Lockdown issues).
On this particular Saturday, I was meeting a friend, chatting and putting the world to rights, but there is still the usual array of photographs that you might expect.
However, I didn’t manage to get a shot of the entire meal.
A number of hotels are offering special deals to entice people back to socialise and the Lowry had a particular reasonably priced menu for two. For £39 enjoy a cocktail afternoon tea plus 25% off any drinks at the bar.
Trust me, as a fairy regular visitor for the Lowry afternoon tea – that’s a hell of a deal. How did it shape up?
The Lowry’s approach to minimising Covid-19 transmission is a (rightly) cautious one: temperature check, hand sanitising, checking in (in case of the need to contact trace) and the tables were well spaced.
Once through this process we were shown to our table and the new menu, since the previous Thursday, was explained and my stomach started rumbling.
Nsingi, the waiter who served us for the afternoon, brought us our champagne cocktails – a very pleasant way to start the afternoon.
The “sandwiches” were an updated version of a traditional offering and I thought worked very well (plus made an interesting though not “trying too hard”change).
First, a goats cheese and new potato cake in a truffle sauce with rich and sharp flavours. My mouth is watering at the memory.
Then, the parmesan scone topped with bacon jam, whipped brie and decorated with chives bringing a fresh onion tang to the mix.
So far, so cheesy… and no, that is not a complaint – the ingredients all offered very distinct taste sensations – creamy brie, sharp goats cheese and tangy parmesan.
And then to the actual sandwiches… coronation chicken which definitely seems to be making a comeback this year (and no bad thing too) along with a very 21st century update on a tuna sandwich with with avocado and heritage tomato salad. The bread was generously sliced and tasty – no skimping in the quality.
Naturally, from here to the scones… two scones which obviously immediately makes me happy. Served with generous amounts 9f strawberry jam and clotted cream.
Nsingi checked that we had enough of both and topped up our teapots, bringing more milk. Attention to the tea details always delights me.
Pausing for breath and bracing for the next steps, we moved to the cakes. I was really pleased to see there was no over reliance on chocolate (not that I dislike it).
First, the strawberry shortcake topped with dried strawberries and Madagascan vanilla. I love shortcake – it’s the creamy buttery flavour and texture.
Next, the creme brulee tart which was delicious: a light caramel taste. It was a richer variation on the first cake’s theme and a completely different colouring offer (being beige) to the next two cakes.
The third and fourth cakes were fairly similar in appearance – brightly coloured mousse on biscuit bases – but with completely contrasting flavours: apricot and grand marnier gateau on a florentine biscuit in a blaze of bright yellow and passionfruit and white chocolate flavoured with pink peppercorns, cheesecake.
They were both utterly delicious.
The entire afternoon tea was absolutely perfect – a variety of contrasting and varied flavours, some unusual twists in taste and presentation – and the service provided by Nsingi was amazing.
We ended the afternoon in the bar, benefitting from the 25% discount on the drinks. The Lowry offers a superb afternoon tea at the best of times but the value provided by this offer was just superb. It’s still available. Give it a go.