Last week was Afternoon tea week, seven days designated to enjoying all the ‘dolce’ delights you can find on that traditionally most English of all sweet and creamy courses. I enjoyed my afternoon tea at Caffe Concerto, part of the elegant Italian chain who specialise in exquisite looking cakes and desserts and real Italian Gelato. The whole experience was delightful, although if you are currently counting the calories, it may be a place best avoided, as the cakes and pastries are truly hard to resist.
Caffe Concerto, Birmingham is situated in Grand Central. The concession is part of the wider food offering which dominates the centre of Grand Central, and is the perfect stop off for a sweet treat after enjoying a morning of shopping. I often have a comfort break at Caffe Concerto, as I love the beautiful ‘fin de siecle’ decor, as well as the truly scrumptious Custard slices (so big, you may need to eat them with a knife and fork). I had never tried the afternoon tea offering until this point, but as all the cakes look so beautiful, I knew it would be good. I wasn’t disappointed.
I flouted traditional by opting for a Vanilla Latte with my tea (it wasn’t quite afternoon and I never do tea before midday). The latte was large, creamy and flavoursome and is definitely something I would order again. And then came the main event.
This is an afternoon tea that looks incredible. The presentation is superb – I wondered whether I could fit the glorious pink cake stand into my bag, it was just so pretty. The range of sandwiches was good, with cream cheese and cucumber, salmon, egg mayonnaise and cheese and pickle amongst the choices. All the sandwiches were deep filled which I was pleased to see – there is nothing worse than an empty, floppy sarnie in my view.
The scones were enormous, and were soft and moist, perfect with the traditional strawberry jam and clotted cream. I was so pleased that it was clotted cream, so many places seem to be using a whipped cream which just isn’t the same. The scones are almost a meal in themselves and I couldn’t fault them. And, in case you are wondering, I am a jam first girl!
And then it was on to the petit fours. The macarons were wonderful with the addition of real blackcurrents, whilst two delicious and attractive mini cheesecakes left me spoilt for choice. The strawberry was deep in real fruit flavour, whilst the chocolate had the welcome addition of nuts that stopped it being overly sweet – this can often equal sickly in my experience. The lemon mousse dessert had that element of zest that again pulled it from the realms of the ordinary – it sets off tastebuds with the tang.
Caffe Concerto may not be the first place you think of for traditional English afternoon tea, but if you try it, you will not be disappointed – it is pretty near perfect.
Caffe Concerto MK 7, Grand Central,, Stephenson St, Birmingham B2 4XJ Telephone – 020 7494 4860