REVIEW: AFTERNOON TEA, GRAND PACIFIC, MANCHESTER

When afternoon tea is described as “the deliciously delectable favourite done the Grand Pacific Way, served with a side of chitchat,” it’s a foregone inevitability that I wouldn’t be able to resist.

Now, I adore afternoon tea. The ritual of sipping Darjeeling, nibbling on luscious pastries whilst holding intelligent conversation (was Proust really ahead of his time?) is the epitome of my perfect day out.

And so it was, one sunny afternoon I pulled up outside the Grand Pacific. It was the start of the last bank holiday of the year, and there was a frisson of excitement at the thought of a nice long weekend peeking around the corner.

I attended the Grand Pacific launch earlier this year and was blown away by the stunning nature of the building. Imposing, grand as the name suggests and strikingly handsome to boot. Think of this as the Ryan Gosling of buildings, a real head-turner. Even the staircase is sexy. Up we went, were greeted by the concierge and took a seat at the pretty table that could easily belong on a set of Downton Abbey.

We were booked in for Champagne Tea, which is Grand Pacific High Tea plus a glass of Moët & Chandon.

One of the things that hits you whilst you take in your gorgeous environ, is that the place is stunning. The ambience is quaint with a major hit of cosmopolitanism. The service hushed yet attentive. With sunlight streaming through the massive windows, and with the promise of luscious baked goods to come, I couldn’t have been happier.

If you’re a brazen master procrastinator standing loud and proud about your faffing nature, then the tea list at Grand Pacific will have you weeping tears of joy. The extensive selection of teas includes English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Lapsang Souchong, Chai Spiced, Silver Needle, Moroccan Mint, Red Berry & Rose, and Gunpowder Green. I chose the latter (it was wonderfully smoky) whilst dining partner had Darjeeling, which was served piping hot in pretty crockery.

Afternoon Tea is served in two waves – sweet or savoury, you choose what goes first. We chose savoury, as I’m a firm believer that dessert should always sign off any meal. The first tray laden with savoury treats was beautiful and looked as if it had been touched by Midas, replete with half pineapple sitting atop the tray.

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For sake of brevity, here is each dish and my thoughts too.

High Tea savoury selection

  • Crumpet with Cornish crab butter: Tangy noisette piped butter a pretty adornment on delectably spongy crumpet.
  • Forbidden Rice Arancini with Goats Cheese: Perfectly seasoned, deceptively large mouthfuls of starchy goodness. Liked the crunch crumb and kimchi ketchup; would have been nice to see more ketchup or dip.
  • Salmon & Tuna Lomi: My favourite hands down. Loved the tender salmon with the citrus kick. I could eat this all day every day and not get bored.
  • Smoked Salmon Potato Cake: Great flavours with a hint of dill and garlic, lovely to look at too.
  • Egg & Mustard Cress Sandwich: Chunky pieces of egg refreshing in that it’s not the usual anodyne paste. I’m not a fan of egg sandwiches, but I liked this.
  • Coronation Chicken Sandwich: Nutty, filling, a good addition to the tray.
  • Eccles Cake with Creamy Lancashire Cheese: I didn’t know what to make of this. Eccles cakes are in my head and heart, essentially desserts. I was unsure if the addition of cheese was imperative to this, or if it worked. The filling was reminiscent of Christmas mince-pie filling. I’ve never had a mince pie this early, so this threw my taste-buds. This Eccles Cake wasn’t unpalatable, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

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High Tea sweet selection

  • Lemon Tart: Excellent pastry, delicious tart lemon filling. Mango & Passionfruit Brûlée: Looked great, unsure if the mango filling tasted of mango?
  • Chocolate Truffle: delivered a deep, dark, chocolate hit.
  • Jasmine Tea Bread with Rose Jelly: Christmas spices (cinnamon) were the main flavours here, which I found a little disarming as it was a bright and summery afternoon in August. Looked great though.
  • Lamington Lollipops: Good sponge, would have been good to see more jam ratio to the sponge.
  • Grand Pacific Sherry Trifle: One of my favourites, fruity jelly with a subtle alcoholic kick was beautiful.
  • Mini Pavlova: Chewy meringue and unctuous raspberry filling makes this another winner that I would happily fight you for.
  • Sesame Seed Tuile: Pretty as a picture, could easily be a gorgeous prop. Caramelised underside, toasted sesame seeds, in a precision cut disc. What’s not to love?

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Overall, mini manna morsels which I enjoyed very much. It would have been good to see scones on the menu (it is afternoon tea after all), but that was a personal observation, not a criticism. The food was great. The service, excellent. The décor and vibe, inspirational. Living Ventures should be proud of Grand Pacific, it is a very special place to be.

Grand Pacific, see you again, very soon.

Rating: (1: Hate: I’d rather eat my shoe – 10: Love: I’d sell my kidney for a meal here)

Food: 8

Value for money: 9

Ambience: 10

Service: 10

#InANutshell

Restaurant name: Grand Pacific, Manchester

Owners: Living Ventures

Open since: March 2017

Covers: 70

Address: 50 Spring Gardens, Manchester M2 1EN

Opening times: Monday – Sunday 12pm – 12am

How to make reservation: Telephone & online

Call: 0161 839 9365

General Manager: Michael Dell’armi

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Whilst in the area check out: adjacent stores. When I was living in oop norrf, Vivienne Westwood was one of my favourite haunts. (I’m still in love with her Anglomania label, but more on that in a different post.)

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