Having recently stayed with Hanbury Manor for their “Ultimate Sleep Experience” with Duxiana Beds, I promised that I would blog separately about their afternoon tea – so here it is, there really was far too much to say not to.
I have been lucky enough to sample afternoon tea at Hanbury Manor a while back now, but they have recently changed their menu and I was invited to give it a whirl.
Well, who was I to say no? You must know me by now…
Setting The Scene:
Afternoon tea at Hanbury Manor is served within their oak panelled study close to the main entrance of the hotel and what a stunning room this is. With carved and ornate decorations over the fireplace and around the windows, it’s the perfect location for a traditionally British afternoon tea.
There’s a choice of tables to book when you visit, options including a formal and elegant high table within the secluded library behind the main walls, or a slightly more informal and lower table within the study itself.
We went for a lower table, complete with soft, cushioned chairs to recline in as we sipped on our Pommery champagne after arriving. The champagne tea of which we were sampling served my favourite sparkling beverage in the most beautiful etched flutes I’ve ever sipped from at tea, these made it feel very special before we had even started.
In fact, this champagne is very light, almost too light… I managed to sip it rather quickly and the bubbles did seem to go straight to my head, ahem.
We ordered different teas to sample as many as we could, opting for the Royal Tea blend and a light Ceylon for my bearded friend, who was a little unsure what to go for in place of the usual “builders tea” he would normally make.
The Afternoon Tea:
The tall afternoon tea tier looks mightily impressive on serving, with the first element I spotted being their salmon pinwheel sandwiches, these looked so striking and inviting in equal measures. But, not only did they look beautiful, they tasted as good as they looked – perfectly moist and filled with tasty smoked salmon, a real wow factor for this tea.
These were certainly the highlight when it came to the finger sandwiches, as unfortunately the rest were rather dry and had started to curl. I know how much of a challenge it can be to keep finger sandwiches fresh, but these had been made a while and hadn’t kept well. The fillings were very traditional, cucumber & mint, ham & mustard on a walnut bread (our next favourite) and egg & watercress in a pink beetroot bread – very unusual breads, I liked the selection used in this way.
We were also served a thin savoury muffin topped with crayfish, but again, the muffin was very dry and felt almost stale to the bite, it just wasn’t very pleasant. A real shame, as again, this could have worked very well as a slightly different savoury offering to this tier.
I would, however, also urge any afternoon tea venue reading this to please stop using watercress with your egg mayonnaise finger sandwiches. The thick, long stalks don’t taste good or feel good when biting into a (what should be “dainty” or ladylike) sandwich, this is personally a real bug bear of mine. What’s wrong with normal cress when it comes to this filling? Perhaps it’s just me?
We were offered more finger sandwiches, but we didn’t take our waiter up on the offer, but there was plenty of food to keep on enjoying this time.
So, moving on to the scones… Oh these scones were worthy of the visit on these baked goods alone.
They were served wrapped up in a cloth napkin (we were also provided with these for our laps, my bearded friend choosing to tuck his into his collar instead of over his knee of course ; ) to keep them warm for longer. I love this touch and have only seen it in one other hotel before, so I’m always pleased when they’re tucked up in this way.
Scones should break through the middle when pulling apart with your fingers and these did so beautifully, they were fluffy in the middle, light as air and tasted heavenly. We could even taste the glaze on the top of the scones, of which I asked for some geekery on as they tasted so good.
Executive Head Chef, Raj Chakraborty (who is a fine man indeed) tells me the secret to a good glaze is as follows.
The glaze is made of egg yolk, sugar and salt. Salt prevents it to burn, sugar caramelises and gives that effect.
I’m guessing a low and steady heat for the caramelising (from my own experience), he didn’t go into proportions, so a case of trial and error to recreate that glaze then!
Fruit and plain scones were on offer, two of each for both of us, I do love a choice when it comes to the flavours of a scone – I might even be as bold as to say this was the perfect scone.
The Sweet Treats:
The miniature cakes for this afternoon tea were to share between two, including a battenburg, glazed strawberry tart with vanilla creme Patisserie (my fave with a crisp pastry shell), a moist lemon & basil macaron and a chocolate torte with a rich chocolate ganache to finish us well and truly off.
There was also a watermelon (trifle?), I’m not 100% sure what it was, but unfortunately it was a slush by the time we came to try it, it had curdled and did not taste or look good in any way. I would say this probably wasn’t needed, perhaps it was there as a pallet cleanser, but it really didn’t work for is menu. They could perhaps look at offering a shot of lemon posset or a jelly in future, but this didn’t taste of much which was, again, a real shame.
The Little Extras:
On serving our champagne to accompany our tea, were were advised to call over to our waiter when we were ready for our food. He took our tea order, then allowed us time to enjoy the glass before anything else was added to the table. I liked this touch very much, as it can sometimes be too much to balance a champagne flute on the table with tea and food at the same time.
We weren’t rushed, our table was ours for as long as we required, it was a very relaxed afternoon indeed. If we didn’t need to rush off afterwards, I could have easily snoozed here all afternoon.
The Little Niggles:
We felt very much “watched over” as we dined, as the large team of waiting staff hovered by the door next to our table. They were stood there chatting quietly, but it felt rather intimidating being stood over as a dining guest.
With four large scones being served, there simply wasn’t enough jam to put onto all of them had we wanted them all. There was plenty of clotted cream, however, it was simply too solid to smother on top – clotted cream really should be served soft and you should be able to dollop it gently onto your scone. This had been in a very cold fridge and had to be cut out of the bowl and placed on top. Not a huge issue, but still…
The afternoon tea looked fabulous on serving, it has an elegant look about it and I would say it’s perfect for couples wanting to try and share lots of different elements or for small groups looking for somewhere sophisticated for a civilised celebration.
The champagne tea at Hanbury Manor is £31.50 per person.
Special dietary requirements can be catered to, it’s advisable to arrange on booking, prior to your arrival to avoid disappointment.
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Please note – This visit was complimentary following an invitation from the team. I am in no means obliged to blog or write about their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I enjoy the experience. The service team that work on the day or duration of my visit are not aware of my reasons for visiting, to enable a fair review.
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