A couple of weeks ago I finally put right a wrong that has been unaddressed for several years.. I took myself off to Slattery in Bury, well actually Whitefield, for their chocolate afternoon tea.
For readers outside Greater Manchester, Slattery is a chocolatier and pattissier. Their cakes are to die for and their chocolates are incredible. You can watch them decorate a range of celebration cakes if you arrive at the right time and I enjoy watching people collect their orders as it is amazing what people request and what Slattery can deliver.
For example, this is my 40th birthday cake… requested with a link to the BBC Doctor Who page for the type of Dalek I particularly wanted. Those gold discs are solid chocolate. Because I don’t like marzipan, the layers of vanilla sponge sandwiched with strawberry jam were lined with white chocolate before the icing was applied.
This was my brother’s 40th birthday cake. He made the mistake, over 20 years earlier, of once telling me he was frightened of the Oompa-Loompas in the Gene Wilder version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. I knew that information would come in useful one day.
So, their cake expertise had been well tested and I had sampled the takeaway afternoon tea during Lockdown, but I’d never tried the Slattery afternoon tea in the world famous Mason’s Dining Room. (Get used to the phrase world famous, kids – it seems to be used a lot up Bury way).
I was having the Luxury Chocolate (naturally) Afternoon Tea which starts life as the Lancashire Afternoon Tea but with more chocolate. I’d got my eye on the G&T version (which is the Lancashire edition but with gin. You can also sample the Champagne or Prosecco Afternoon Teas too). So I asked for a gin and tonic to accompany my Luxury Chocolate experience. Single or double? Double.
And, I’d have the Prestwich Gin, after being given a choice of Manchester or Prestwich… when it Whitefield, it seemed rude not to go for the uber local variety.
The tiered presentation arrived and as is the routine, I started with the plate of savouries, neatly presented with some side salad.
I was enjoying the turkey and sage on incredibly fluffy white bread when a small birthday cake with a rather large flare was served to the chap a few tables over with his coffee. He pushed his chair slightly further away from the table to move his face away from the two foot sparkler. I could see the heat glistening on his face. As another birthday cake (complete with similar pyrotechnics) was served to a table next to the first, I realised his cake was actually tiny… and so did he… as he glanced at the more substantial offering, then back to his plate and then to his partner. Repeatedly. One did not need to be psychic to recognise the disappointment.
Back to my sandwiches… Next up: salmon and cucumber on wholemeal. As I pulled it away, the sandwich next to it, generously piled cheddar and thick sliced honey roasted ham, toppled over. Slattery do not skimp on fillings.
Glancing around, while I knew afternoon tea was served from 11 o’clock, afternoon tea at twelve still felt too early, but it was virtually a full sweep of tea servings in the Dining Room today.
I don’t know where Slattery get their sliced meats and cheeses from (hopefully, the World Famous Bury Indoor Market) but the flavours are incredible. There was no risk of coming away from this afternoon tea and feeling like the sandwiches had all tasted the same. To be fair that rarely happens to me but these were sandwiches that coshed you over the head with their fillings.
Is the World Famous Bury Indoor Market really “World Famous”? I don’t know but pre-Pandemic there were coach tours from across, well at least the Northwest of England to visit. Whether parties ventured over from Yorkshire is unclear… let’s not restart the Wars of the Roses.
A warm cheese and caramelised onion individual quiche followed these sandwiches and it just melted in my mouth. I’d interrupted the run of sandwiches to leave until last the coronation chicken on wholemeal. It’s a bit of a favourite.
The sandwiches were excellent – full-flavoured and generous fillings on delicious bread.
Next plate and onto the chocolate scone whose chocolate chips collapsed everywhere as I sliced the scone – I have to say that this was more of a cake than an actual scone with a spongey rather than crumbly texture. It was nice, but with a slightly uncomfortable feeling of disloyalty to Slattery… I have to say, possibly whisper it: I’ve had better.
As I finished the G&T, the waitress brought over the Slattery Hot Chocolate… capitalisation required because this isn’t your average hot chocolate. Certain British department stores with their food marketing of “this isn’t an ordinary steak and pie dinner, this is a *recognised brand* steak and pie dinner” can’t really get close to Slattery for their local reputation.
Into a tall glass that is lined with chocolate (dark, milk or white, tour choice) is poured hot milk and on the surface of the liquid is placed a large chocolate coin. The milk melts the chocolate to create a creamy rich beverage. It’s delicious but… it’s also very filling.
Brace yourselves for a shock, readers. With the hot chocolate and scone I couldn’t actually manage to eat the cakes. I tried… I really did. I picked up a chocolate fudge cake and put it back down. I couldn’t even pick up the chocolate glazed strawberry.
A whole plate of cakes abandoned! You could weep. Except, they weren’t abandoned. Of course not. The waitress brought over a box and I packed them up including the chocolate dishes filled with liquid chocolate, knowing that they would be solid by the time I ate them.
The marshmallow was left behind. Who needs marshmallow? It’s foul.
Over the next 48 hours, the cakes were consumed with small attempts to recreate the Slattery experience at home – well with a nice cup of tea, I wasn’t setting an afternoon tea setting each time I ate a cake.
First up, the cream filled chocolate chou bun – light, sweet pastry topped with a rich topping of Slattery chocolate.
I followed this later with the layered chocolate cake – sponge layers not overwhelmed by the ganache and finally, a day later, the rich chocolate fudge cake. It was 48 hours since it had been served and it was still moist, not even a hint of staleness at the corners.
Incredible quality and definitely good value. The Lancashire Afternoon Tea is £16.50 while the Luxury Chocolate is £19.50. The alcoholic editions, G&T, Champagne and Prosecco are £22.50, £21.50 and £19.50 respectively. With my mixing and matching, I paid just under £25.
There’s also a children’s version for £8.50 featuring the opportunity to dunk doughnuts in liquid chocolate.