Who are the Scone Rangers?

In recent times  Afternoon Tea is making a renaissance away from the quintessentially decadent British spot of Tiffin that was once a luxury outing to something that is becoming more accepted as just simply an Afternoon Tea date with girlfriends. You’ll find that lots of hotel, spa and eating establishments will have an Afternoon Tea menu in place,  offering variations on a theme of Finger Sandwiches, Scones with Cream. and Jam and then a tier of petit fours or cakes washed down with a cup tea of your choice. Indeed the decadence now, can be found in whether or not you want Afternoon Tea with Fizz which may be a flute of Champagne or Prosecco.

So what is your favourite thing about Afternoon Tea? Is it the location, the menu, the cakes, the teas on offer or the options for Ladies vs Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea? Value for Money (VfM) (this is mine too, to be honest! If you get loads for your money then I am impressed!!!)? What is it that excites you about an Afternoon Tea date. Katie and I, along with many of our friends have had many conversations about this  over,  of course, Afternoon Tea and we have come up with our very own checklist. Just to let you know Katie is a veggie. As well as that, to throw into the mix, Katie has just had a baby so some of the qualities that we looked for last year, was around how the establishment catered for food choices with pregnant women. That was quite illuminating too!

Location

Do we get a warm welcome? Are our surroundings lush and plush, do we feel excited “coz it’s dead posh!”lol (lol means loads of laughs – its an AMB colloquialism that gets on everyone’s nerves, I don’t apologise for this!! lol). Are there any distinguishing features that make the establishment stand out? What ambiance do we feel when are relaxing in there? Are we attended too promptly, not necessarily immediately, I mean we are not market researchers!

Menu

What is the menu like? Do we get a choice? What is the variety like? Is it well explained and informative? What we mean, is that “A selection of vegetarian sandwiches” doesn’t tell you anything really, does it? Is food locally sourced thus promoting small local businesses.

Cups and Plates

Is it a china cup and plate or not? Is it pretty? Is it presented well? Does it look fit? lol

Tea

How we you like your tea? Loose leaf or in an bag? Do we get a choice of tea? Are the staff on it, in terms of checking whether we need the teapot refilling regularly? Is the water warm enough? Are we having our tea served in a china cup or a porcelain mug?

Sandwiches

First off, is the bread stale? Are the sandwiches  a good size, do they have a lot of filling, do you have a variety of nice breads , do you get a nice choice of filling? Is the sandwich wet and soggy? Does the bread curl up? Are the fillings dry? Is it a fit sandwich AND do they top sandwiches up at NO EXTRA CHARGE, like they do in London. (Incidentally, one of our friends Mariella announced that in London you would not expect to get charged for more sandwiches. We tried it out at the  Double Tree Hilton in Manchester and they indicated we would be charged for extra if when we asked for more HOWEVER, the Lowry Hotel  provided us with more scones at NO extra charge when we asked at their Afternoon Tea, which went down well as they were freshly made!).

Cakes

Do the cakes appear shop bought or freshly made on site? That is a big faux pas if they appear, not to have been made on site. Are there nice marriages of flavour or do they taste minging? Are the cakes too rich and too filling? Are they too big or too small, to be honest this is a real challenge, we’re serious!!! Sometimes, the cakes are just too big, it takes a good chef to suss out the right quantity of Afternoon Tea . Having said that, are you provided with a “doggie” bag to take away with you? (For my Dad’s 65th a few years ago The Midland Hotel gave us a load of fresh cakes to take home as we were the last party of the day and they would have just thrown them out, which would have been a complete travesty as far as my family are concerned!)

And finally the piece de la resistance…… the SCONE!

This is mine and Katie’s absolute benchmark……. is the scone fresh or stale, big or small, holds it form or crumbles under the weight of the clotted cream, butter and jam? Do you get 1 or 2 per person. If its a crap scone, very often the Afternoon Tea is mediocre or poor.

So for all you potential Afternoon Tea parlours in Manchester, sort out your scones!!!First up…… The Tea Hive in Chorlton this week.