When it comes to dining out, you can’t get more British than afternoon tea.
An institution in England since its introduction by the seventh Duchess of Bedford in 1840, as Henry James famously put it in his 1880 novel The Portrait of a Lady: “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
This most quintessential of English customs is well-loved here in Manchester, where we have a plethora of hotels, restaurants, tea rooms and cafes offering up their own take on the great British classic.
But if you’re looking to enjoy your afternoon tea with a view, you need to look up 4-star hotel The Mercure.
Situated just off Piccadilly Gardens, the hotel’s third-floor restaurant and bar Level 3 boasts some impressive views across Manchester city centre.
From way up high the gardens actually look pretty beautiful, and – dare we say it – even peaceful.
But what about the afternoon teas?
Level 3 serves up three variations: one classic, one for the ladies, and one for the gents. Starting from just £17.50, they’re well priced for a spot with such panoramic views.
With Father’s Day just around the corner, we opted to try the hotel’s signature Gentleman’s Tea offering, which comes out on a three-tiered cake stand piled high with goodies.
After all, afternoon tea might have first been popularised by upper-class and society women, but nowadays, it’s for everyone.
On the top tier: a cheese and charcuterie board loaded with smoked applewood, creamy brie and soft stilton alongside smoky chorizo, peppery German salami and slivers of parma ham. A proper savoury feast.
Hiding beneath is a seasonal selection of perfectly bite-sized cakes ranging from miniature passionfruit and citrussy cheesecakes to delicate choux buns stuffed with cream and drizzled in white and dark chocolate.
Further sweet treats include gooey chocolate sponge cakes topped with fresh raspberries and picked mint – a pleasing addition.
On the sandwich front (because what is afternoon tea without sandwiches), things are mostly kept traditional. Which is fine by us.
After all, we already know Manchester loves a good sandwich. As the saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.
Slivers of classic finger favourites here include tuna mayo, and ham, cheese and mustard.
These come piled high on the bottom plate, next to a couple of sizeable coronation chicken wraps for those after something with a bit more heft.
Priced at £24 a head, the Gentleman’s Tea includes a pint of draught beer or chilled prosecco and an aromatic tea of your choosing. And it’s well priced, too. You certainly get a lot for your money here.
Looking to enjoy your next afternoon tea date with a view? Then give The Mercure a look-in.