Table Talk – Friday 12th January

Whitley Neil gin

Ginuary just gets better in Birmingham, as for the rest of the month The Canal House in Bridge Street and The Botanist in Temple Street are offering two-for-one deals from their New World Gin List. This includes Masons, Whitley Neill, Bombay Sapphire, Liverpool Gin and the Scottish handcrafted gin Caorunn.


Spangles American Diner has closed up in Fargo Village, as the sweetie shop and café prepares to open a new tea shop in Leamington Spa. Opening on 3rd February, they are taking bookings now for their Beauty & The Beast themed afternoon teas.


A Victorian afternoon tea in Coventry

As Coventry is still basking in the glory of winning the UK Capital of Culture2021, I thought I’d share with you one of the city’s small cultural attractions.

The Priory Visitors Centre is slap bang in the middle of the city centre opposite Nando’s.  Built over the remains of Coventry’s first cathedral, excavation work gave archaeologists the opportunity to uncover details of much of the original cathedral and tell the story of this amazing part of Coventry’s history.

Priory Visitor Centre & Undercroft is now open as a social enterprise and last weekend I took my mum there for a Victorian Afternoon tea.

Victorian afternoon tea

Our menu for this experience was prepared to authentic recipes by Leigh Waite from the Heritage Pantry – maker of the famous Coventry God Cakes  – and included these afternoon tea treats to get us into the festive spirit:

Cheese “Oliver” Twists

Surprisingly, one of our teatime favourites is a Victorian invention – we’ve added a touch of Dickens to fit the season

Potted Beef and Potted Ham

Another teatime classic, home cooked meats, all prepared, potted and butter sealed, served with oatcakes.

Pork pies with apple and cranberry with oatcakes 

Hand Raised Christmas Pies

A duo of classic pork pies, hand raised by CH Rowley Ltd of Arley, in the time honoured way, and topped with homemade cranberry and apple chutney, plus cider apple sauce.

 Dainty Sandwiches

Another classic – no afternoon tea is quite right without them, and they are the epitome of what a fine lady might have served up to her tea guests. We had cucumber and egg.

 Christmas cakes

Mr Fezziwig’s Festive Fruit Cake

Traditional mini sized fruit cakes, made to a Victorian recipe, and topped with a touch of marzipan and Royal icing.

 Heritage Pantry tipsy cakes

Mr Dickens Delight

A classic Tipsy style cake, inspired by the fabulous Mrs Beeton’s recipe.

 Victorian cakes

Rum Butter Tarts

Delightful little tartlets filled with fruit and spices, a change from mince pies to add a twist to our tea.

 Classic Victoria Sponge Cakes

The ultimate cake to grace our seasonal Victorian tea plate. They came in different flavours, such as almond, or even orange, but the mini cakes on our platter today were in the modern sandwich form of the cake that we know so well.

 Tiny Tim’s Treats – Handmade Rum Truffles

Crystallised chestnuts and handmade rum truffles.

All washed down with lashings of tea and mulled wine! For £20 per person it was great value and a lovely way to experience an afternoon tea with a twist.

Check The Priory Visitor Centre’s  Facebook page for future events.


Time for tea

Afternoon and Gentleman’s Tea will be available from tomorrow (Wednesday) at The Lost & Found bar in Birmingham.

L&F Afternoon Tea

Fans of the traditional afternoon tea can sample delicate sandwiches of smoked salmon, Hendrick’s-infused cucumber and cream cheese, feta, red onion and honey pastries, Earl Grey panna cotta, raspberry trifle and a bittersweet popcorn tiffin, all served alongside warm fruit scones with clotted cream and jam for £18.95.

The Gentleman’s Tea also offers small baguettes bursting with crispy chicken and chorizo and a warm Scotch egg before the sweet section for the same price.

With National Afternoon Tea Week coming up I’ve been looking at different menus and venues to tempt you with so watch this space…

The Edgbaston’s Moseley Serve afternoon tea

The Edgbaston Moseley Serve afternoon tea

The Edgbaston has launched afternoon tea, with a delightful selection of cakes and pastries, including the Moseley Serve of tea-infused gin cocktails.

You may be thinking what is the Moseley Serve? Apparently it originates from when ladies in Moseley used to hide the fact they were drinking gin during the day by serving it from a teapot and drinking it out of teacups!

Ryan Swift Head Chef The Edgbaston
Head Chef Ryan Swift said ‘there is nowhere more fitting than The Edgbaston to launch a decadent and delicious afternoon tea, using vintage crockery in our 1920’s Art Deco cocktail lounge, it really is something very special’.

Served in the cocktail lounge or on the sunny terrace between Tuesday and Saturday 2pm until 5pm you will need to boook in advance. From £20 – £50 per person depending on choice of drinks.

If you have not yet visited this stunning boutique hotel, then the Gastro Card competition to win afternoon tea for two at the Edgbaston could be your chance!

To enter, simply RT and follow @thegastrocard and @TheEdgbaston or email with the subject heading “Afternoon Tea at The Edgbaston” by 31 May.

Good luck!

Who is behind the plate?

Whenever we eat out I like to find out about the chef who has lovingly prepared our food. So at a recent bloggers Afternoon Tea at the Hotel la Tour, it was my chance to get acquainted with senior chef de partie Rachel Dorrell.

Rachel Dorrell senior chef de partie Hotel la Tour

Born and raised in Birmingham, 23-year old Rachel studied at University College Birmingham before beginning her career as a pastry chef.

Rachel’s culinary career started at New Hall Hotel and Spa, Sutton Coldfield. Working under Chef Kirk Bick, Rachel quickly developed her skills as a pastry chef and focused her talent into creating a very high standard of food.  Her love of baking and talent for designing seasonal dishes soon provided her with the opportunity to take on her role as Senior Chef de Partie at Hotel La Tour.

Hotel la Tour afternoon tea montage

After sampling both the Winter and Spring afternoon teas that Rachel has created, I can attest that the delicate cakes taste as good as they look. The attention to detail and use of seasonal ingredients with a witty twist are excellent – no soggy bottoms here.

Hotel la Tour afternoon tea cakes

The new Spring menu features bite-sized banana and chocolate macaroon, lime and ginger cheesecake, raspberry and mascarpone tart, opera gateau and gluten free muffins, which starts at an exceptionally reasonable £19.95.  (Welsh rarebit, hummus and selection of sandwiches for starters alongside the traditional scones and clotted cream are also part of the tea.)

Rachel Dorrell Hotel la Tour senior chef de partie

Rachel has had one of her recipes featured in the Great British Cookbook and one day she hopes to open her own tearoom and patisserie.

Lets hope it will be within the Midlands so we don’t have to go too far to go for her delightful confections!

Pop into the Parlour

How elegant does the new Parlour at Hampton Manor look!

The Parlour Hampton Manor

The hotel says “We are delighted to open the Parlour this month, which provides a relaxed setting, overlooking the gardens. Sink into a deep sofa for a long chat by the roaring fire, spoil yourself with an indulgent afternoon tea, or sip away the evening with a glass of fizz”.

Three tiers for afternoon tea

For National Afternoon Tea Week I am recommending five tea rooms in the Midlands that offer something a little bit different.

Hotel la Tour afternoon tea

Best cakes – Hotel la Tour’s pastry chef Rachel livens up the choices of indulgent desserts by adding walnut whips, lemon meringue pie, Eton mess and tiny treacle tartlets to possibly the biggest tea stand in Brum.

Fourteas Stratford upon Avon

Best vintage interior– Fourteas in Stratford upon Avon source their bread, fruit, vegetables, meat and loose leaf tea from local suppliers. All served on delicate vintage china in the 1940s inspired deco tea room, to a soundtrack of Glenn Miller.

The Dining Room afternoon tea

Best for savoury treats – savoury items are often forgotten in the afternoon tea menu, as the focus is all on the cakes. Not so at The Dining Room at 78 Derngate, the Rennie Mackinstosh house in Northampton. Start with a coronation chicken filo cup, cheese scone and individual leek and broccoli quiche with your selection of sandwiches.

Cafe Opus - Afternoon Tea

Best value – the Café Opus cake stand is layered with sandwiches, cakes, scones and a pot of tea for just £10!   When the sun is shining eat outside under one of the parasols in Brindleyplace, Birmingham.

Warwick Castle afternoon tea

Best for a day out  –  Warwick Castle’s afternoon tea consists of an amuse bouche, sandwiches and patisseries all served on Royal Crown Derby fine bone china with specially selected Twinings blends of tea. Leave room for the homemade millionaire’s mousse, a rich caramel mousse with 23 carat gold on top! (The £37 price also includes entrance to the castle and grounds).

So whether you are looking for the best cakes or best value, I hope that these fit the bill.

Time for tea

A colleague asked me for an afternoon tea recommendation this week. She was looking for something luxurious that would suit a day time hen party with two pregnant guests, so without missing a breath I said Hotel la Tour.

Christmas afternoon tea Hotel la Tour

Their pastry chef creates wonderful, sometimes whimsical confections, with a nod towards the seasons that are almost too pretty to eat. As you can see from this Christmas image, the attention to detail is lovely and makes afternoon tea the special treat that it deserves to be.

Most of the Birmingham city centre hotels provide an afternoon tea and now Marco Pierre White Steakhouse and Grill has launched their own version.

Laurent-Perrier afternoon tea

Up on the 25th floor of The Cube, the city views from Laurent- Perrier Bar are stunning. Here a selection of finger sandwiches, Marco’s daily cake selection, a chocolate brownie and the traditional warm sultana scones with clotted cream and preserves are served.

A glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne and unlimited teas are included in the £30 price. Available between 2 – 5pm, five days a week, the restaurant pledges to donate £1 from the sale of each afternoon tea to Cure Leukaemia.

*Thank you to Sarah Morrris at Ed James PR for the invitation and MPW Birmingham for your hospitality.

Time for afternoon tea at Harvey Nichols

Harvey Nichols is celebrating the tradition of afternoon tea with a new menu and cocktails, plus mixology masterclasses as part of their restaurant festival which runs until Sunday 18 May.

Harvey Nichols afternoon tea

On the menu is a selection of finger sandwiches, mini scones with clotted cream and jam, individual earl grey Victoria sponge, blueberry and lemon mille feuille plus strawberries and cream. Available daily 2pm – 5.30pm for £12 per person, or for £18 partner it with a signature cocktail.

MAI CHERRY BAKEWELL – Gold rum, Cointreau and fresh lime juice shaken with almond syrup and cherry syrup. Served short over ice and garnished with maraschino cherries and almond flakes

CUCUMBER & ELDERFLOWER COLLINS – Fresh cucumber shaken with gin, fresh lemon juice and elderflower syrup. Served tall over ice, topped with soda water and garnished with a slice of cucumber.

HIGH TEA AT HARVEY’S – Earl grey infused gin shaken with bergamot liqueur, fresh lemon juice and sugar syrup. Served in a vintage tea cup garnished with an edible flower.

HARVEY NICHOLS WINE COOLER – Lemon vodka, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup and Harvey Nichol’s house white wine shaken with a little pineapple juice. Served tall over ice, topped with a splash of lemonade and garnished with a pineapple leaf.

Harvey Nichols restaurant Birmingham

The one hour mini cocktail masterclasses are running on Saturday  17 May at 1.30pm, 3.30pm and 5pm at £10 per person.  To book, call Harvey Nichols Birmingham 0121 616 6028.  (A £5 deposit will be required when booking, places offered on a first come first served basis.)

High Tea at Hotel La Tour

Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is said to have complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon between meals and so created the tradition of Afternoon Tea. Taking a pot of tea and a light snack is one that I try to accommodate as often as possible, so I was delighted to be invited to try the new High Tea at Hotel la Tour.

Hotel la Tour is a recently opened four star hotel in the regeneration hotspot of Eastside, a mere five minutes away from Selfridges in Birmingham.  From the oversized chairs and floor lamps in red and black, the hotel has a stylish and contemporary feel.

Going up to the first floor past the Aalto restaurant, my mother and I were seated in a cosy corner at the end of the long bar. While we drank our White tea with pomegranate and English Breakfast blends, a three tier frame was placed on the floor between us. Then the individual serving plates were added one by one with a description of all their delicious contents by our waitress.









Crunchy fingers of welsh rarebit with a hot mustard dip and soft inside out cucumber rolls were unusual and welcome additions to the traditional savoury fare. Six finger sandwiches of salmon and cream cheese on brown bread and Coronation chicken and ham on white bread completed our savoury plate.








Our second plate of four mini scones with Devonshire clotted cream and jam were then an ideal pre-cursor to individual afternoon tea fancies.Head Chef Alex Penhaligon has obviously had some fun in creating a selection of sweet treats based on popular desserts. A juicy blackberry encased in soft meringue with sugar flowers, a chocolate covered biscuit cone piped with walnut cream, a mini Jaffa cake and treacle tart were all bite-sized delights.

With piano music playing in the background, it’s a relaxing way to indulge in a beautifully presented and delicious High Tea.  I particularly like the way the menu offers a twist on British classics.







High Tea is available for £15.95 per person Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays. You can pre-book online and gift vouchers also available.