Food review - Afternoon Tea, Hotel Gotham, Manchester
PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 May 2016 | UPDATED: 22:44 01 March 2018
Emma Mayoh took afternoon tea at Manchester's award-winning Hotel Gotham
Manchester has undergone a dining renaissance. Last year, dozens of new restaurants opened their doors and the city embraced its reinvention as a Northern Powerhouse with gusto. From uber chic themed restaurants to elegant rooftop terraces and cocktail lounges, the influx of new places has cemented the city’s reputation as a vibrant regional capital as well as bringing in new investment.
At the heart of this resurgence has been Hotel Gotham, the quirky must-see and experience hotel at the top of King Street. The former bank is housed in a magnificent deco 1928 Edwin Lutyens building. But it is now a super hang out – in fact it was named Outstanding New Hotel of the Year.
There is nothing average about Hotel Gotham. From the retro bellboy that greets you on arrival to the decidedly different décor. For residents lucky enough to book into one of the 60 dazzlingly decadent rooms there are trunk-style cocktail cabinets and a Martini trolley that does the rounds of the rooms at 8pm in case you want a pre-dinner cocktail while you get ready to hit the sixth floor restaurant, Honey. This is just a floor down from the private VIP lounge Brass – the names just two of the numerous references to the hotel’s past as a bank.
In Honey dining is brasserie style but the emphasis is very much about carving an identity as a Manchester hotel. So expect Lancashire hotpot, Manchester tart and even Vimto to make an appearance.
But I decided to forego the evening menu for that very British of traditions – afternoon tea. It is difficult to imagine a more ideal place to enjoy such a luxury. Monochrome and golden furnishings and floors are teamed with dark woods, soft leathers and huge half-moon windows to make the most of those beautiful views. But showcased are those now famous quirky interiors – think bowler hat displays and one wall covered in typewriters stuffed with copes of the Gotham Bugle. It is old school style with a new, shiny look.
Afternoon tea comes with or without champagne – without is £19.99 and with, named the Lutyens Tea, is £29.99. An added touch was the opportunity to book late – other establishments I have visited finish serving at 4pm. But Hotel Gotham’s last reservation is at 6pm.
Rather than a tea stand dripping with cakes – where often much of the food ends up coming home in a cardboard box – the Gotham’s offering is decadent yet delicate. The menu does change but there is often a nod to its Manchester roots with Eccles cakes and Manchester tart on offer.
On the day we visited there was a selection of small, finger sandwiches – unfortunately one of mine was a little stale. But that small blip was quickly forgiven as the sweet side of the tea was done well. There was egg custard, plum and raspberry cake, chocolate and orange cake and an Eccles cake – although this was more deconstructed than one you’d usually expect. But the best – a sweet blackcurrant macaroon – was reserved for last. And it was worth the wait.
As the sun set over Manchester, and the twinkle of the lights around the city started to show, the views took on a new appeal. There is no doubting Hotel Gotham is a place that has been well thought out and executed. It is a stunning place to visit with the food to back it up.
There was just one niggle. Although I appreciate Club Brass is for members or hotel guests only, I think it’s a shame diners don’t get to appreciate this part of the Gotham which has even more views of the city – especially as there was no other alternative to enjoy a post-meal drink and we’d essentially just spent £60 on tea and cake. But what was great was there was no rush for us to leave Honey. Although we were the final diners to leave this pretty place, there was never any expectation or pressure for us to go. The food was good, the welcome was friendly and the views exceptional. It is certainly a Manchester experience to try.
Hotel Gotham, 100 King Street, Manchester, M2 4WU, www.bespokehotels.com/hotelgotham