“Our very own Alice in Wonderland adventure park right here in Manchester!”
It does beg the question whether accolades really do enhance the reputation and service of a restaurant or whether it ruins it? The Flame and I have held in our grasp a significant portion of gift vouchers for The Richmond Tea Rooms in Manchester for quite some time now. However our ability to purloin a table for two on a suitable afternoon has proven to be somewhat fraught. It would seem that ever since it won the tea room of the year everyone wants to try it! Good for business I suppose but somewhat frustrating as a would be punter.
That said last Saturday we decided to crash on and get ourselves into town and wait….. and wait….. and wait. We wound our way down the backstreet, past a rather splendid exterior graphic and up the grand steps. The good lady at the reception pod pronounced that it was a mere two hour wait before we could be seated! Unperturbed we added our data to the ever-growing list on the good ladies pad and set off for an alcoholic relaxant (at Beef and Pudding if you must know!). With some glee the call came some forty minutes later. With the relaxant sunk we hared off back across town once again.
This time it was mere moments before we were set down at our cosy retreat amidst a riot of flamboyance, gladioli, swooshes and swathes. The place is festooned with nods to Alice In Wonderland. Facsimiles of playing cards, diamonds and dripping clocks. The tables are set with spotty tableware and the finest China. It’s all rather engaging.
Im feeling slightly nervous though. I’m pretty much the only male in the house. Females dominate, either in pairs or in banks of six or more. Possibly on pre alcohol hen do’s? The Flame reassures me, I’m in good hands. We order the Richmond Tea. Top of the pile this, which means we soon have a glass of bubbly to quaff. Very pleasant too. A strong, decent black coffee accompanies whilst The Flame mollycoddles a battery of implements to administer her equally fine green tea.
Soon the main event appears. Three China tiers of savouries and sweets are gently lowered mid table. We were hungry, we fleetingly admired the vision, exchanged a few pleasantries and dived in bottom first. Finger sandwiches in brown and white. Egg mayo, beef and horseradish and Brie. A spinach and feta pastry completed the savoury ensemble. All very nice, fresh and tasty as you would expect.
Next up a mini strawberry eclair. Gone in a mouth full. Then a verdant cube of sponge topped with lemon icing. Lovely jubbly. Sweets are my thing, so I’m doing nicely here. My favourite sweet is trifle and here as the finale on level two is a trifle taster. It’s perfectly fine, but there’s no booze soaked sponge wallowing at its base. A teaspoon is needed to wheedle out the full contents.
Finally, the finale, a wonderful, sweet warm scone with strawberry jam and a healthy dose of clotted cream. The highlight for me. Rich and crumbly, a cracking end. I washed it down with a mouth full of bubbly.
As I mentioned we had £50 worth of gift vouchers to devour. The Richmond Tea takes it all with a small tip. For all the wait we were only in for forty minutes. As I say we were hungry, so we didn’t hang about. One might suggest it was little expensive (just over a pound a minute!) but we had a lovely time. I’d try and call in again for something less exotic. It’s a great space to while away some precious time. You should try it once at least!
Richmond Tea Rooms,
15 Richmond Street,
Manchester M1 3HZ
0161 237 9667