Tea with an earl
Every fashionista, lady about town and die hard shopper - even the most hardcore - needs somewhere to retreat either after or during a good spot of retail therapy. So, in case anyone was wondering where they could go to escape the crowds for an hour or so, and relax in classy, yet laid back surroundings without having to venture outside of the city, I thought I'd do a bit of research for you.
Just over a week ago I popped along to Birmingham's latest plush city centre hotel and dining complex, Hotel La Tour. They recently launched their 'High Tea', and on noticing the Earl Grey Bellini and mini desert selection included, I was immediately sold. Easily in fact; cocktails and cake - what more could a girl want?
It was the Friday afternoon just before the Jubilee Bank Holiday, which was I thought a great way to begin my long weekend. It was also rather appropriate for the occasion as it turned out; the platter brought out to us would have been quite fitting for Her Majesty the Queen herself with even one of the sandwich selection including some sort of cucumber 'roll'. Even the card to advertise the high tea incorporated the union flag - tastefully I might add. There was none of this Geri/Ginger Spice union flag dress style tackiness for her royal highness... who in this case was of course me. Talking of me in terms of 'royal highness', did I mention I've recently found myself quite taken with Prince Harry? I find him rather dashing, but cheeky. I'm sure you'll all agree... My mother asked if he was a little young for me (I'm 29, he's about a year or so younger). I reminded her she's married to a man 11 years her junior, so no, quite frankly he is perfectly within my age range. Anyway, I digress.
So, on arrival my friend and I were greeted rather warmly and taken to our table in the bar. There we were presented with our menu and asked which drink we would prefer; Veuve Clicquot or an Earl Grey Bellini. Now, I'm very partial to a glass (or two) of the great Veuve, however, being High Tea I thought the Earl Grey option would be more fitting. Great choice; the cocktail was nothing short of divine.
Next out, came the selection of sandwiches, scones and desserts, with our choice of tea. Think smoked salmon and coronation chicken sandwiches (sans crusts to my delight), cucumber rolls and rarebit... followed by fruit and plain scones with jam and clotted cream (a personal favourite)... followed by mini desserts: Eton mess, treacle tart, jaffa pudding and walnut whip - not the shop bought version. Truly scrumptious.
I recommend also trying the 1889 cocktail (small concoction - pictured at the top - of Bombay Sapphire, elderflower, apple, egg white and grated ginger): oddly delicious in taste and apparently a great palate cleanser between the scones and desserts... and who am I to argue.
The service is welcoming and attentive, without being too attentive (if you know what I mean), the background music is as it should be - in the background, just music, quite classical and very relaxing - apart from being able to see busy parts of the city if you peer outside the window, you could almost forget about the hustle and bustle on the other side of the walls.
I shall certainly be returning, and I suggest you all do too. It is best to book if you wish to take High Tea, however I would personally be happy to return simply to relax with a glass of champers or a cocktail or two.