Further to my plans to invest a bit more time into enjoying myself , I decided to kick my good intentions off in style, with a jaunt into Birmingham with my aunt to indulge in High Tea at the fabulous Hotel la Tour this week.
If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. Seriously cool, Hotel La Tour is a beautiful retreat a stone’s throw from the shopping hub, decorated in sumptuous fabrics, with a mellow ambience and friendly, professional service.
Afternoon tea has become a popular weekend treat for many, but Hotel la Tour’s really is something special. It’s not just the way it’s served – on a three-tier floor-mounted stand, with crisp white cloths and gleaming crockery, but the attention to detail – the delightful home-made delicacies to round off the finger sandwiches and scones and the specially-created exclusive cocktails.
The cocktail of choice for us was created to celebrate the birth of Prince George. Created from passion fruit syrup, gin, vodka and egg white and presented in a crystal glass, The Little Prince is refreshing and light – a perfect choice for a summer afternoon.
What I love about HLT’s High Tea is the relatively simple, but very unusual addition to the sandwich course of a modern-take on cheese on toast. The ham, smoked salmon and cream cheese, cucumber and mint, and coronation chicken sandwiches are neatly stacked beside a host of toast fingers with a creamy cheese dip that you just can’t get enough of. You can be as lady-like as you please to begin with, but by the time you take your last soldier, you’ll be scooping up as much of the cheese as you can…
Plain and fruit scones (at the risk of sounding like Goldilocks, not too big, not too small, but just the right size) served with heaps of thick clotted cream and strawberry jam are a must for any afternoon tea, but the best is yet to come…and requires a bit of an interlude before you can really appreciate them properly.
Forget your average French fancies, these over-sized mini desserts are the only way to round off an afternoon. A blackberry jammie dodger, light chocolate biscuit with a thick blackberry jam filling, is HLT’s take on the old teatime favourite , served alongside a shot glass filled with a light and creamy panacotta with summer berries and cucumber, a strawberry macaron filled with a chocolate paste, and a moist lemon sponge with butter icing.
It takes a while to work your way through it all, but it’s well worth the effort…
While I shan’t be able to justify mid-week treats like this as a matter of course, since I’m a season ticket widow once again this year, along with my mum and my aunt, we can think of little better to do while the boys spend 90 minutes watching men fight over a ball. I think it’s fair to say HLT will be seeing a lot more of us before the year is out – and since anyone who books afternoon tea in August and mentions that they’ve read this will get a complimentary glass of fizz, I might be seeing you there too…
Afternoon tea costs £18.95 per person. Hotel La Tour is located in Albert Street – book on 0121 718 8000. Every Sunday, afternoon tea is accompanied by a live music set for additional ambience.