Ever since I attended the opening party of The Balcony restaurant in Selfridges, Birmingham, last December, I have been itching to try out the Afternoon Picnic. The restaurant, part of the Searcy’s group, had shown guests their take on a traditional afternoon tea, but due to consumer copious amounts of food and scrummy cocktails on the night, I had not been able to sample any of the delights on offer. This was something I knew I had to put right.
So last Friday I took myself off the iconic Bullring Birmingham store with one of my favourite blogging ladies, the gorgeous Miss Emily Jayne, to sample the delights of an afternoon tea that promised to be a twist on the traditional. The Balcony’s afternoon Picnic certainly delivered on its promises.
The Balcony offers a gorgeous modern fashion vibe for guests, with stylish table arrangements and a beautiful fashion mural which so suits the ethos of Selfridges as a modern, vibrant place to shop and dine. The dining experience began with a glass of Moet Champagne, the bubbles chilled and perfect for what was an exceptionally hot afternoon.
And then the tea was presented…on what is, quite possibly, the sweetest picnic table you will ever see. The benches were home to the sandwiches, which, in this case, were actually deep filled buns. There were three in total, Coronation Chicken, traditional cucumber with creme fraiche and smoked salmon. Each was flavoursome and delightful, with the Coronation Chicken my personal favourite – packed with flavour but not too spicy.
With the buns finished it was time to turn to the cakes. This was also the perfect time for tea to be served. I opted for my usual English breakfast tea, which I love served very strong with just a dash of milk. Emily went for the fresh mint option which is very refreshing. We were both super impressed with the presentation – the fabulously rustic ironware teapots were so unusual and kept the tea piping hot. I enjoyed the tea so much I asked for a second pot, which was not a problem.
In terms of cakes/pastries, it has to be said that if you are a fan of macaroons, you are in for a treat. The thick chocolate inside the macaroons was rich and delicious. These were the best macaroons I have ever tasted, well worth the chocolate smears left all around my mouth. There was also a deliciously light lemon drizzle cake which was moist and had a real summery taste of citrus. And, of course, there were scones, with clotted cream and little pots of jam. I must admit I am not always a fan of jam served in the jar, but as this was part of a picnic, it fitted perfectly with the theme of the tea. The scones were large and so soft and fresh they crumbled when cut. They were so tasty they could’ve been eaten without any cream or jam, they were that good.
The whole picnic experience was a sheer delight from start to finish. The service was impeccable, and the staff professional; attentive, butnot to the point of being intrusive. The food was of a high standard and gelled well together as an afternoon tea. I loved this twist on the traditional and will certainly be paying another visit very soon.
*With thanks to the staff of The Balcony, Birmingham and Alex Mansell of Waa agency for the review opportunity.