I haven't had an afternoon tea for a while but it is one of my favourite ways to spend time. Eating delicious cakes, drinking tea and prosecco, having a chat, enjoying the crockery- it's just lovely.
I've been walking past Caffe Concerto in Grand Central all year thinking how good their cakes and baguettes looked so I had high hopes for afternoon tea.
I've mentioned before how I enjoy the buzz of the food establishments at Grand Central. Although it's busy and noisy and you can hear the train announcements, the light from the atrium ceiling makes it a pleasant place to spend time, rather than being stressful.
Caffe Concerto is decked out with plenty of art deco style gold, with little retro lamps on each table. You do not need to book for afternoon tea- you just go to the counter and ask for it. I think the ability to book would make it a little more special.
We were taken to a little table with comfortable seats and given a glass of prosecco. Edd chose an americano coffee and I chose tea.
The coffee was fine but not memorable. I wish there had been a wider selection of teas available. One of my musts in an afternoon tea is a good selection of loose leaf tea. I like something light like Jasmine with this sort of food.
However, my tea did turn up in a lovely silver pot as did the milk. I was surprised it was a tea bag rather than loose leaf, as it doesn't really fit with the classiness of the rest of the experience.
Another must for me is beautiful presentation and here they hit the nail on the head. The tiers were made up of gorgeous pink and gold plates and the cakes and sandwiches looked beautiful.
First up: sandwiches. I do like when there something a bit different in the savoury selection- a blini, a dip, maybe a savoury scone. However, Caffe Concerto's afternoon tea offering is very traditional and the sandwiches were great- soft seeded bread, plenty of filling. We particularly enjoyed the tomato relish on the cheese and tomato (much better than soggy sliced tomatoes) and the cream cheese and cucumber. Obviously the salmon went down well too.
Scones were fruit or plain. Interestingly, they seemed to have cooked them in a muffin pan so they were quite tall and close-textured. I know that 'proper' scones are supposed to be quite crumbly but I prefer them like this as it is easier to spread the jam and cream.
Yes I said it- jam and cream. Jam first!
Although I enjoy a scone, there wasn't enough clotted cream. I'm sure I could have asked for more, but it's nice to see a large, generous portion so you don't feel like you're rationing it.
The cakes- the best bit! The pastries looked absolutely beautiful and just what I'd hoped. Plenty of fruit, macarons, a bit of chocolate and no sponge. I don't care for sponge cakes on my afternoon tea- too heavy after sandwiches and scones. On the plate there were two fruit tarts, two raspberry macarons, a strawberry mousse cake and a chocolate mousse cake. The mousse cakes were large enough to share but Edd and I decided to have one each.
Macrons were what they should be- a crisp shell, almondy, sweet and chewy inside. I liked the addition of the fresh fruit. The pastry on the fruit tart could have been a little thinner for my tastes but I loved the creme patisserie and the thin jelly covering the fruit. The mousse cakes were my favourite- so light but still decadent.
Although there are one or two little improvements that could be made (a choice of tea and the chance to book) I would have Caffe Concerto's Afternoon Tea again. And I'm definitely heading back just for cake- they keep calling to me.
Caffe Concerto, Grand Central, Birmingham
Photos by Edd and myself
Food and drink were complimentary for review purposes.