Two weekends ago, I was in Birmingham celebrating a friend’s birthday and as these plans weren’t until the evening and Ashley had work during the day, I messaged my best friend Gemma to see if she fancied a catch up. I hadn’t seen her since the end of October and despite going for lunch last time, we also got WGW! This time, I thought I’d be on my best behaviour and we’d be more civilised, so I booked afternoon tea at Malmaison, in The Mailbox.
Our reservation was for 2:30pm and not only is The Mailbox a five minute walk from New Street station, Malmaison is in the entrance of the building – so very easy to get to. Despite being a hotel, I couldn’t work out where the rooms were; however, after making our way through the bar, we arrived at the Chez Mal Brasserie. We weren’t given the best table, it was quite small and right in the middle of the restaurant – luckily, we upgraded to a booth when one was available and not only was there more space, it was so comfortable! The staff were also very helpful in moving our belongings and teacups over.
We decided to upgrade to the cocktail afternoon tea (£25pp, as opposed to £17.50 for the standard option) and there were four cocktails to choose from. Gemma chose the Orange Brûlée (Disaronno, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Hennessy VS, cream, chocolate dust), while I loved the sound of Nutty 43 (Tia Maria, Frangelico, Licor 43, cream). Unfortunately, instead of my cocktail arriving to the table, we were given the Blackberry G&Tea and after two waiting staff and the manager came over, the correct drink was mixed and served. Luckily we were told we could keep the third, free of charge. It was quite sour and obviously didn’t go well with our creamier cocktails. There was a long wait to receive the original drinks and then a further 20 minute wait – but this was only a minor blip in an otherwise enjoyable afternoon.
Whilst we were waiting for our cocktails, we got to decide on our teas – of which there was plenty of choice. I opted for the green tea with lemon and Gemma had the blackberry & raspberry fruit infusion. The cake stand and scones (served separately) arrived soon after – and what a display!
We first dug into the savouries: mini beef sliders served in brioche buns with pickles; hot smoked salmon salad wraps; and char-grilled chicken wraps with peppers and crème fraiche. Our favourite was the salmon. The wraps were soft, so you knew they’d not been sitting around for hours. I personally prefer finger sandwiches, as these savouries were quite filling.
Taking one look at the scones, which were huge, we decided to eat the smaller sweet treats first – of which, there were four. The mango & passion fruit meringues with cream were light and the fruit so refreshing; the salted caramel brownie was the perfect mix of rich indulgence and soft gooeyness; the raspberry coconut cake was pretty dense, but still delicious. We washed them all down with a mini frozen berry smoothie, served in a mini milk bottle. It was quite sour, but complemented the sweeter cakes.
Feeling brave, we attempted the scones and Gemma certainly lucked out choosing the fruit one! My plain one was far too large and was on the stodgy side – it wasn’t warm when I cut into it and the middle wasn’t soft. I only managed half of the top, but the clotted cream and strawberry preserve were both enjoyable. I think I’d have enjoyed an average sized scone a lot more – and one with raisins.
Despite feeling overly full, we managed to finish our cocktails before getting the bill. Even with a 10% service charge included, the cost of the tea was reasonable, especially compared to other hotels or places in London. Although I don’t think I’d return to Malmaison for afternoon tea, I’d be inclined to have lunch or dinner there – or even stay the night.
It was so nice to catch up with Gems too and we had so much goss to share. Isn’t it great when you don’t see a friend for a while but when you’re together, it’s like you were never apart? I can’t believe we celebrate 25 years of friendship this year, too!
Love, Lucy xx