I’ve always loved afternoon tea, the idea of whiling away an afternoon drinking tea (or champagne) eating dainty sandwiches, yummy scones and a few sweet treat delights in the company of my husband or good friends is my idea of a great afternoon. Having said this, I can’t remember the last time I had a proper afternoon tea. Yes there’s been a cream tea here and there, but not a proper afternoon tea. I’d heard some great things about a few places in Birmingham, so booked up to go to Hotel La Tour for a treat on the weekend of our wedding anniversary.
My first experience of Hotel La Tour was back at the Future Foodies event back in May. Back then I was struck by the decor of the place, bold colours and clean lines with some great quirky features; oversized lamps and high-backed chairs.
We were welcomed into the bar by one of the waitresses, I could see that many of the bar/lounge tables were already set up for tea, and as we walked past the long bar we could see that several tables were already taken up. The atmosphere was really relaxed and we led to a lovely table and (really comfy) sofa – a must for the ultimate afternoon tea experience in my book – not having to sit up straight on a dining chair, it’s all about the comfort!
We were taken through the menu, informed of the sandwich fillings, and checked that we didn’t have any dietary requirements or special requests. We were also talked through all the tea options, many flavours both iced and hot, or we could have coffee or hot chocolate at no extra cost. Refills also included. There was also a selection of alcoholic drinks tailored to the menu, a gin based cocktail, a glass of something sparkly or whatever you would like from the bar, all individually priced. I decided on a classical breakfast tea, whilst hubby had Earl Grey (we’re both pretty boring in the tea department) and we also went for a glass of Prosecco each to start off with.
The tea was served on a traditional stand, next to our table, with 3 layers. Handily, the plates had lips on the edge which enabled easy handling if you wanted to move them around with out the fear of toppling the whole thing!
On the top layer were our savoury goodies. Four flavours of sandwich, all with crusts removed and very accurately cut to exactly the same shape and size. The fillings were; smoked salmon and cream cheese, cucumber and mint, coronation chicken and ham and tomato. The bread was soft and fresh and all the sandwiches were pleasant but without blowing me away (not that a sandwich has, or may ever blow me away!) Particular plaudits to the smoked salmon one, yummy. Along with the sandwiches there was also a pot of Welsh Rarebit Dip, along with some large croutons to smother it on. I say smother, because that is exactly what we did, as it was extremely good and very moreish.
Down on to the second layer and we came across the scones. Two each of plain and fruit, perfectly sized and not too big, with dishes of jam and cream. The scones were great – not too dry and still slightly warm when we got to them. I would have liked a choice of jams, although strawberry is the norm and traditional, an extra option would have scored them even more points!
Moving on to the third and final layer, and the one that always excites me (and probably most people) more than any other. The sweet treats. On this plate we had; a blackberry jammy dodger, a strawberry macaron with a chocolate filling, a piece of lemon cake and a shot glass filled with vanilla pannacotta, strawberry and cucumber jelly. The standout was definitely the lemon cake, the sponge so moist and light with delicious buttercream and a little sprinkling of lime zest. The blackberry dodger was also great, crumbly biscuit sweet against the tangy jam. The pannacotta shot was really tasty and the macaron really well made; a crisp shell and chewy centre, but the strawberry taste was overwhelmed by the chocolate filling.
We had a wonderful afternoon at Hotel La Tour, the service, food and the whole experience was great. I would certainly be keen to go back again, as long as they change the sandwich fillings and treats often enough! It’s a great place to relax and gossip with freinds, enjoy a romantic afternoon with the other half or to treat you family to high tea!