Afternoon Tea at Chi Kitchen

Chi Kitchen is, without doubt, one of my favourite places to dine in Birmingham. So when  I received an invite to try the Chi Kitchen take on afternoon tea I was super intrigued. Chi Kitchen serves a glorious mixture of dishes that can be described as Pan- Asian, whereas afternoon tea is the most English of dishes. So how, exactly, would this work. The answer is that the twist on afternoon tea, served with that Pan Asian Twist, is exceedingly good.

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Afternoon tea is always best when there is an addition of Prosecco, and at Chi Kitchen, this was a deliciously crisp variety, with the addition of a cherry in the bottom of the glass. The afternoon tea itself is served very traditionally on the three tiered cake stand, but that is where tradition ends, with the top layer containing a selection of dumplings, the second tier consisting of savoury snacks and the bottom tier designed for those with a sweet tooth.

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The dumplings were super delicious, in fact, despite the fact that I am well known for my sweet tooth, these were my favourite part of the tea. The dumpling were a mixture of chicken and prawns, as well as one which contained broccoli and chives, all were super tasty, nicely filled with plenty of filling, and the prawns in particular were large and juicy. There was also a crispy wanton that contained chicken and Chinese mushroom. I am not a fan of mushrooms, but loved the deep and crispy batter.

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The second layer was full of savoury delights. The one which was voted favourite was the Curry puff, a slightly spiced and flavoursome take on a pasty. There was also a satay skewer which was covered in peanut sauce (another of my faves), a chicken bun which reminded me of chicken and stuffing, and a very moreish spring roll that was quite literally stuffed with filling.

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Of course, afternoon tea isn’t really afternoon tea without the sweet treats. The Pandan panna cotta was a delight, a super creamy confection that I can’t wait to try again. The banana cake was also delicious, with a custard style blob of banana cream on the top, and a lovely, moist fairy cake underneath. The green tea cheesecake was another revelation – if someone suggested it to me I wouldn’t be keen, but the tea flavour is very delicate, the sweet and creamy flavours are the ones that really come through. There was also a coconut spring roll which I didn’t get too, I’m not really a fan of coconut and I was, quite frankly full to the brim.

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You can choose from tea or coffee to accompany your afternoon tea, I opted for Malaysian pulled tea, which is actually quite milky and not really for me (I like a builders brew so should’ve chosen English Breakfast).

The Prosecco Asian Afternoon Tea cost £19.95 per head. Click here for more information about Chi Kitchen.

Afternoon tea week at Caffe Concerto

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Caffe Concerto  MK 7, Grand Central,, Stephenson St, Birmingham B2 4XJ Telephone – 020 7494 4860

 

A cocktail Masterclass at Bar Opus

I really would struggle to think of a better way to spend a very cold and windy Saturday afternoon, than mixing gorgeous cocktails in the glamorous confines of Bar Opus, based at Birmingham’s One Snowhill. One of the city’s newest destinations when it comes to cocktails, Bar Opus is in a part of the city that is currently experiencing vast changes, as the Midland Metro route is being expanded through the business district.

Bar Opus has an extensive cocktail menu, and offers a one hour mixing masterclass for £15 per person, I was invited along to have a go at mixing two different cocktails, and must admit to being a little apprehensive, I’m far more used to drinking them than mixing them, and had visions of ice flying everything. Thankfully, I really enjoyed it and didn’t embarrass myself, although I don’t think The Bar Wizards will be losing any sleep.

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Bar Opus is a stunning place, bright and airy, with floor to ceiling windows perfect for people watching. There are plenty of tables perfect for drinks with friends or an afternoon snack.  I love the stylish decor, which has a black and white theme, complete with a Big Ben style clock face that should have Harold Lloyd hanging from it (check out 1920s film Safety Last if you think I’ve slightly lost it). The outside terrace is a lovely place to relax with a refreshing cocktail or two come Summer, and I will certainly be returning to do this when the weather is kind again. For now, I will have to be content with a cocktail that is a total taste of Summer…but more of that later.

The first cocktail we attempted was a delicious honey and vanilla concoction called the honey bee. This is a shaken cocktail that gave me the chance to channel my inner Tom Cruise, and consists of 50ml of Jim Beam Honey(even the smell is delicious), 25ml Monin Vanilla,1/2 Bottle Vanillalicious (sort of like a vanilla milkshake, and honey and honeycomb as garnish. This was a delicious, almost warming cocktail, perfect for winter days. Beware though, it has a slight milkshake flavour which may make you forget the hit of alcohol. I loved this and totally drained my glass.

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Ingredients

The mixing stage

The mixing stage

Not too bad at all.

Not too bad at all.

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The second cocktail is that taste of summer I was talking about. I love Elderflower, I find it one of the most refreshing drinks especially when topped with ice, and this cocktail, the Elderflower Spritz, is Elderflower overload. Made with  50ml of Chase Elderflower Vodka, this is a refreshing long drink that is a top up and stir cocktail that is reviving and refreshing. The rest of the ingredients are 25ml Elderflower cordial, 12.5ml Fresh lemon juice. The cocktail is then topped up with fevertree elderflower tonic. It is amazing. My new favourite drink.

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With Helen from Positive Friday’s

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With Tasha from Nutella Tasha.

The masterclass was super fun, and if this wasn’t enough, we were then treated to a delicious array of afternoon tea delights, both sweet and savoury, and a fruit punch served in pewter style tankards. It was a fantastic accompaniment to the diverse and delicious cocktails.

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*With thanks to Bar Opus and Clive Reeves PR for the invitation.

Cocktail Masterclass – Everyday
Amateur mixologists are being given the opportunity to learn how to create mouthwatering cocktails with an intimate masterclass at Bar Opus at One Snowhill. Whether you want to learn the classics or discover something new to wow friends, Bar Manager Sam Cross will teach how to mix, shake and stir drinks from the ordinary into the extraordinary. Classes are one hour and cost £15 per person. To book, call 0121 289 3939.
To find out more about events happening at Bar Opus at One Snowhill, visit: www.baropus.co.uk.