Afternoon tea is one of life’s little luxuries. Invented, apparently, by Queen Victoria, it’s a tradition that seems to be having a bit of a renaissance. There is much competition for Afternoon tea in Birmingham, from extravagant cocktail concoctions to Gentleman’s afternoon tea, populated by pork pies and manwiches.
Recently I was invited to try afternoon tea at Caffe Concerto in Grand Central on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
The location of Caffe Concerto is good, with natural light pouring in from Grand Central’s undulating glass roof and rows of tables overlooking the station concourse, ideal for people watching.
I was greeted with a warm welcome and told to find a seat wherever I wanted, but have a sneaking suspicion I was given special treatment as I had my tea delivered to me, while others had to queue at the counter and carry their own drinks and cakes to their tables. There wasn’t anyone else having afternoon tea, so I don’t know for sure, but I just had a feeling.
The presentation was lovely, with lovely silver teapots and jugs and clean, white crockery. I was a tad disappointed that the tea was a Tetley teabag, as I would have expected loose leaf tea, but it wasn’t a problem.
The presentation of the sandwiches and cakes was also fantastic, with this lovely layered stand and vintage inspired pink plates.
There was a good selection of sanwiches, with four fillings in total. The salmon sandwich was very good, with lots of zesty lemon flavour, the cheddar and chutney was delicious too, with a lovely curry spice flavour from the chutney. The cream cheese and cucumber was fine too, I was impressed that the cucumber was crisp and fresh and hadn’t gone soggy. The only one I didn’t enjoy as much was the egg mayonnaise, as I found the raw onion in the mixture was a bit strong and overpowered the otherwise tasty egg mayo. I would have liked the bread to have been freshly baked, but again, that may just be me being picky!
The scones were the star of the show for me, served warm so the butter melted ever so slightly as you slathered them with it and sweet strawberry jam. There was just enough of both butter and jam for the two scones, so nothing wasted, which I liked. I often end up leaving a half eaten portion of jam and butter when I have a cream tea, but with this the small jar was clean once I was finished.
I enjoyed the sweets and cakes too, the macaron was sweet and melted in my mouth as I ate it. The fruit tart wasn’t too sweet, so you could taste the fruit and it wasn’t drowned in a sugary glaze. The creme patissiere was light and fluffy with a lovely vanilla flavour. The only criticism was that the tart base was a little soggy.
The best of the three was the berry mousse cheesecake. The mousse was light and smooth, with a lovely flavour and a sweet berry sauce. The biscuit base was buttery and rich, and the addition of fresh fruit on top added a little tang to contrast the sweetness.
I have to say, I had hoped that some of the delicious looking cream cakes in the window would have been included in the afternoon tea. Unfortunately they weren’t this time, but I would certainly like to come back and try some of them.
Caffe Concerto is a vast improvement on the usual shopping centre offerings of Starbucks and Costa. All of their cakes and gateaux are made on site and their offering of afternoon tea makes it an accessible indulgence that you can enjoy without needing to book, at an affordable price of less than £18 for one or less than £35 for two.
Although it is open plan, the decor is attractive and cosy and it’s a great little spot to enjoy a break from shopping or travelling.
My afternoon tea at Caffe Concerto was complimentary, many thanks to the team there and at Grand Central. All opinions are, as always, my own and I was under no obligation to write a positive review.