I have lived in Manchester for over two years. Before that, I spent the best part of five years in the city as a student. But, I have to confess, until last Sunday, I had never visited Richmond Tea Rooms.
We planned to have afternoon tea in Liverpool the previous weekend but we never got around to it. In a way, I’m glad we didn’t, else we might not have decided to visit Richmond Tea Rooms when we did!
It was just the two or us so we couldn’t reserve a table. I was a bit apprehensive as to whether we’d actually be able to get a table at midday on a Sunday. We stepped into the reception room. It was like we’d jumped right into an illustrated copy of Lewis Carroll’s classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland! We were greeted with a smile and informed that there might be a short wait as they had just sat several large parties. In fact, we were seated in less than five minutes.
Now, came the tricky part…
We knew we were going to be greedy so both went with the Queen’s Afternoon Tea. Now we had to each choose a tea to go with it! Suffice to say, the selection they have is more than ample—check it out for yourself, here. In the end, I chose a lapsang souchong (as I thought the smokiness would cut through all the sugar I was about to consume). My partner made the better choice though, in my opinion, picking a Blue Lady tea. It was delicate, floral, and not too sweet. Mine was lovely, but the Blue Lady was something special. I’m already looking for places to buy some for home!
We waited a further five to ten minutes to have our orders taken—I like a bit of time to browse the menu so found the time they took to be spot on. We were told that it may take a little while for food to come out before we sat down but I would say we waited no more than twenty minutes. Given how busy it was, I thought the service was pretty good.
A three-tier afternoon tea stand, fit to burst with delectable sweet and savoury morsels, was placed between us. The cups and saucers were mismatched, in true kitsch fashion; the usual plates had been replaced on the tea stand with ‘blue willow’ patterned plates. Having grown up in the Potteries, I didn’t even need to turn the plates over to recognise them as Churchill—call it the Stoke sixth sense, if you will.
The server proceeded to explain each item to us in list fashion, going around the stand as he reeled them off. He’d barely finished saying, “enjoy” before I’d snatched the first cake from the top tier.
Cakes, tarts, and more!
I usually like to save my favourites for last but, in this case, it appeared I might have picked the best first. Understandably, it was a miniature Manchester tart—and it was divine! I followed it promptly with a lemon and poppyseed cupcake, before breaking to sip my tea alongside a finger sandwich.
I won’t list all of the delights we enjoyed; suffice to say, there was nothing I didn’t enjoy… The cakes were well-balanced, the sandwiches proportionate, and the scones were still warm!
On the whole, we really enjoyed the time we spent at Richmond Tea Rooms. I could only find a couple of minor issues: the first was that we’d asked for one of the afternoon teas to be vegetarian but of the four identical finger sandwiches we each received, only two of each four were vegetarian so we had to do a few swaps (meaning I had only meat fillings). Not a massive issue, in all honesty. The second, and I’m being really picky now: one finger sandwich was a tad wet, and the pastry on one of the tarts was a little chewy (presumably as it had sat in the fridge for a while). Safe to say though, none of these small quibbles detracted from the overall experience. And, whilst we didn’t mention these points to the staff because they weren’t worth making a fuss over, I know that they would have been seen to had we done so. We really couldn’t fault the service.
Definitely worth trying. Great food, good service, and the perfect decor. It’s great to see a thriving daytime business in the middle of Manchester’s Gay Village. We could certainly do with more businesses bringing in the wider community, for reasons other than hen parties!
It’s a thumbs up from me.