The King Street Townhouse, Manchester
After a busy week at work I do honestly relish the opportunity to spend 48 hours in the company of my little ones. Inevitably there is a party to go to (and rarely of the grown up variety) and it’s also mandatory to spend several hours in the park regardless of the weather. Having said that, every now and again it’s a bit of a treat to have an afternoon away with the girls and not have to wipe the snot and break up the fights. Thus was born The Ladies that Afternoon Tea.
Over the next year or so (or perhaps decade) our intrepid group of ladies are intending to bring you the lowdown on the best afternoon teas out there for that well deserved trip out. Selflessly sacrificing hours of our own Saturdays we’ll let you know who does the best sandwiches, who has the best chairs and, most importantly, the biggest cakes. We’ll mostly be focusing on Manchester in the first instance but who knows where our afternoon tea adventures may take us?!
Our first stop a couple of weekends ago, was the King St Townhouse which, annoyingly, is not actually on King St at all but Booth St but we’ll let them off that minor indiscretion (and also for being within view of my office which is a bit off-putting on a Saturday).
This is a truly lovely hotel, one of the stable of Eclectic Hotels, which opened to the public in December 2015. The décor is beautifully done and as soon as you’re through the door you’re made to feel like you’re going to experience a real treat.
Our only criticism of the hotel on this front is that we were seated in a small area off the main bar and restaurant which was a bit cramped. This we could have lived with but our table also had weirdly small chairs which made you feel like you were sitting with your knees around your neck.
We spent quite a while trying to understand the reasoning behind this furnishing decision – was it because the ceiling was quite low and they were trying to compensate by chopping half of the legs off the chairs so you didn’t notice? Were they trying to effect a chaise longue feeling but without the longue? Who knows? But what we do know is that we’re some way off retirement age and it was still hard to stand up after 2 hours in that position.
On a more positive note, two of the ladies had noted before we got started that the problem with Afternoon Tea is often that there isn’t enough of it. This definitely wasn’t the case at KST, there was more than enough to go around and a good chance you’ll need a doggy bag at the end of it. I’m a bit picky when it comes to sandwiches but there was a great selection and a good veggie alternative for one of our ladies. Don’t be too tempted to fill up on the sandwiches though as the cakes are coming next.
And what cakes they are. Scones (naturally) with clotted cream and jam which were great. We also had an amazing raspberry panna cotta which was my favourite part of the meal as well as Bakewell tarts (lovely), pistachio profiteroles (in raptures) and an orange cheesecake which as you can see was a slightly off-putting colour but still went down well with most.
For the £30 fee you also get a glass of champagne which was really good quality or you can choose to have it with just tea and a soft drink for £23.50.
All in all the food went down a storm and it was hard to fault them in this regard.
In general I think the service at the hotel is good and you’re made to feel very welcome as soon as you arrive but we did deduct points for the fact that our server had to go and check when we asked what was in the sandwiches and what the cakes were which you’d think would be a fairly straightforward request. Having said that, we did discover that they were pretty good in emergency situations when they looked after an old man that fell and hit his head while we were there. So that’s good to know.
And so to the scores on the doors.
We will score each tea a score out of 30 for each of the following:
The KST scored well in all regards.
For sandwiches we awarded them a whopping 27/30 or 90%
For cakes an admirable 23/30 or 76%
For drinks an amazing 29/30 or 96%
For service a slightly lower 16/30 or 53%
For atmosphere a middling 21.5/30 or 71%
All in all the food and drink are fab but KST you need to sort out your chairs if you are anticipating an audience of greater height than 3ft 5”.