The Lowry Hotel is one of Manchester’s top destinations for a short or long stay, becoming a firm favourite of visiting world-famous names in recent years. And the accompanying River Restaurant more than matches up.
A refurbishment not long back transformed the area from a slightly-formal traditional dining space into a vibrant, relaxed room, full of calming greenery and smart modern design features.
Their afternoon tea menu has become one of the most popular in the city, and it’s not hard to see why.
It’s perfect for those looking for a traditional tea experience in elegant surroundings, minus all the fusty pomp and ceremony. The staff are a true delight, charming and upbeat, with a wealth of knowledge about all things tea.
Indeed, this is where the River Restaurant excels. They have over 80s teas on offer, including lapsang souchong, turmeric, jasmine flowering balls and many many more. They can even create your own bespoke blend, starting with a base leaf – black, green or white – followed by a selection of flavourings of your choice.
If you’re a tea fanatic, or simply want to expand your knowledge about this wonderful leaf, look no further.
And if you fancy a high-end tipple to go with all this, you can upgrade to include either a gin and tonic, a glass of champagne or a bellini for just over ten pounds extra.
The food is very much afternoon tea in the traditional sense, and all the better for it.
Sandwiches and cakes change monthly. On our visit, we started with Atlantic prawns and dill cream cheese on lighter-than-air white bread, classic roast beef sandwich complete with bright purple slaw, a devilled egg mayonnaise sandwich with compressed cucumber, and a cute little chicken caesar wrap packed with bacon and Parmesan.
This is soon followed by a magnificent array of pastries on a silver cake stand.
Working left to right, we began with a rhubarb and custard dessert on a wickedly crunchy caramelised puff pastry, then a mouth-watering coconut frangipan with chunks of pineapple, followed by an intoxicatingly rich chocolate cremeux tart, and finally, a passion fruit and white chocolate gateaux that’s so powerfully tart you need to close your eyes while you eat it.
Executive chef Dave Ashton has designed a menu that stays faithful to those classically British ingredients but presents them in a beautifully original manner that can’t fail to satisfy.
Finally, there are two scones, one plain and one studded with dried fruit, both buttery and crumbly, as all good scones should be, plus a homemade strawberry preserve and rich, thick Cornish clotted cream.
There’s more than enough food for two on offer, and you’d be advised to make a day of it, languidly sipping tea and nibbling at the snacks over the course of a few hours.
The setting is unbeatable, set back away from the hustle of the city centre, but with a sense of excitement that you could only find in a city as fast-moving as Manchester.
And in March, The Lowry Hotel is bringing back its unique, sell-out experience for families this Mother’s Day with an ‘all you can eat’ afternoon tea which includes unlimited sandwiches, scones and cakes, as well as a choice of tea, coffee or juice.
Whether you’re a local looking for one of the city’s best afternoon teas, or coming in from further afield, afternoon tea at The Lowry Hotel is one of Manchester’s best daytime meals, and an absolute must-visit for all tea enthusiasts.