After experiencing a rather poor Afternoon Tea in London we decided to see what was on offer closer to home. To be honest I only chose the Radisson because I couldn't get a table at the Hilton on Deansgate. As it turned out it wasn't a bad choice but not everything was perfect.
The experience started badly as we were soaked to the skin making our way to the hotel in a typical short, sharp Manchester shower. Actually it was a more typical 5 hour downpour. Still being wet shouldn't spoil my appetite. We arrived practically bang on time for our 3.30pm reservation and the waiter seemed pleasant and attentive while he was telling us how lovely our table was. We did have to wait for a few minutes while it was cleared from the last occupants and re-set for us. After being sat for around ten minutes with no further attention from any of the staff we made our way to our table by ourselves. The position was nice being, as it was, right next to the large window looking out onto Oxford Street. Very funny watching everyone passing getting as wet as we were. Another five or so minutes passed and a very affable young man presented us with a menu and we decided on the Celebration Tea which was the basic Afternoon Tea with the addition of a glass of champagne. There is also a Gentleman's Tea on offer which is a little more rustic containing mini yorkshire pudding and mini fish and chips. Maybe next time. We selected English Breakfast Tea to to accompany our meal and this arrived promptly in very impressive looking silver tea-pots complete with strainer. No tea-bags here it would seem. It was then that we discovered that we only had the dreggs of milk from the previous customers in our jug. We had to wait a few minutes to catch someones attention and order more. The waiter seemed astonished that we didn't have enough milk and I'm sure he thought we'd drank it. Anyhow, he came back with milk and we had to send him scuttling off again because we had no teaspoons either. It seems the member of staff who set our table was a little negligent in her duties. Anyway, tea poured we sat back to await our food. Just a quick point on the sugar. It is presented in a nice silver bowl in lumps, not cubes. Also in the bowl are lumps of brown sugar in case you have selected coffee. There are no tongues supplied so you have to dig in with your fingers as did the previous occupants of the table. Not ideal. The food arrived and very nice it looked too. There were approximately 8 small sandwiches between us totalling I reckon 4 rounds of bread. The fillings included tuna mayonaisse, roast beef, ham and mustard, smoked salmon and cream cheese etc. Pretty standard fayre but all very tasty with the exception of the smoked salmon which neither of us really have a taste for to be honest. I'm sure the quality was good but we just don't like it. That was the bottom layer accounted for. Next up were 4 smallish scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam. These were definitely the highlight of the afternoon for me as they were so beautifully baked and very light in texture. The jam was presented in little glass jars as you would expect in any hotel at breakfast but was of good quality from the Tiptree range. So, scones consumed, it was cake time. On the top layer there were 2 squares of a really nice coffee cake topped with a coffee cream. A dream for me, a nightmare for the wife. Consequently I ate them both and they were delicious. We had a maccaroon each which, although good looking, were a little light on taste. Still OK though. There was also a sumptuous looking chocolate eclaire each and these were again delicious oozing fresh cream. The final offering was a shot glass filled with a clear jelly and fruit. The fruit comprised 2 blueberries and a raspberry. The jelly didn't really taste of anything to be honest. At first we weren't even sure if these jellies were meant to be eaten or just there for decoration. We had a quick look at a neighbouring table and the customers sat there didn't seem to have them. Anyway, after we decided that they were intended for consumption, we had to work out how to actually eat them. There were no spoons supplied and the tall thin nature of the shot glasses meant that the only option seemed to be scoop out the jelly with a knife onto your side plate and eat it with a fork. Not ideal as the side plates were obviously covered in crumbs from the previous sandwiches and cakes etc. Still, we persevered and I don't think we looked too common. We had asked for our champagne to be delivered at the end of our tea and it wasn't. We had to grab the attention of another waiter and ask for it. When it came it was just cold enough and incredibly dry. I don't really know why we order champagne as we're not really that keen on it. So we asked for the bill, paid up and left. The cost for this experience was just over £63 including 10% service charge that is added to the bill. I'm never sure if this means that no tip is necessary. Anyway I took my change and decided not to leave any extra. The whole experience was pleasant despite the little mix-ups and the venue is really nice. It had been in excess of 30 years since I had visited the Free Trade Hall and that was to watch The Police in concert in, I think, 1981. On that night I don't suppose I thought that the next time I visited would be to quaff champage and eat tiny sandwiches accompanied by my beautiful wife. Life is strange.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.