Neighbourhood all-day eatery and late-night bar emerged on the Spinningfields scene in 2012 and received a £1m makeover last year to make it more appealing to daytime trade. It’s more vibrant and welcoming and recently started serving that quintessentially English treat – afternoon tea.
I am a fiend for a good cup of tea. What a delight then to be invited there for the launch. My only question is, why haven’t they done it before?
We were welcomed with a glass of pink fizz and sat in a pastel-pink booth where we perused the new afternoon tea menu.
Long luxurious afternoons are what this occasion should be all about, so although we waited a while we were in no rush and when the tower arrived it was more than worth the wait.
Sandwiches, scones and cakes were on the agenda as we sipped our English Breakfast Tea from china cups and saucers. Unfortunately, no one could be mother as there was no teapot.
Beautifully arranged on the stand were finger sandwiches at the base, traditional scones in the middle, and a collection of inventive treats on the third tier, all freshly made by the talented in-house pastry chef earlier in the day. Which is how we decided to tackle it. From the bottom up.
Traditional finger sandwiches of salmon, ham and mustard, egg and cress, and cucumber were simply scrumptious. And staff were more than happy to offer more of the vegetarian variety to suit my dietary needs. It would have been nice to see some of Neighbourhood’s US inspiration in there, though – maybe a mini cream cheese bagel, for example.
Two substantial golden home-baked scones flecked with raisins came with clotted cream (not enough) and jam (too much, too smooth) which hit the spot nevertheless. So much so that, as we climbed to the top tier, we had to be careful what we chose or we wouldn’t be able to fit it all in.
My favourites were the pink macaroons packed with white chocolate ganache, requiring some of the most intricate pastry techniques going. There were also multi-coloured Battenberg slices, baby eclairs, and mini lemon meringue pies paying homage to that classic dessert.
We had a good go at this top tier but soon realised that with such a range of sweet treats, although delicious, you can have too much of a good thing. Maybe a plainer Victoria sponge would have worked better than one of the sweeter cakes? We wouldn’t have known which one to sacrifice though.
What a great way to spend a lazy afternoon. Although it was extremely busy, staff remained attentive and upbeat throughout, frequently providing regular top-ups of fresh water etc.
We were unable to finish all the sweet stuff on the tower so we took the rest home in a lovely presentation box which I’m finishing as I write. And that’s a fine thing.
Afternoon Tea is available 12pm – 4pm daily and costs £19.95 per person (with champagne £24.95 per person).