The Midland Hotel is the sort of place I would have liked to have been taken to by my godfather for my first grown-up afternoon tea probably to celebrate a special birthday. I would have been picked up from school by his peak-capped driver in a highly polished silver shadow, all glossy walnut and deep leather seats. We would have glided to a halt at the main entrance and the white-gloved doorman would have tipped his hat and led us through to the octagonal palm court. There we would have been relieved of our astrakhan collared cashmere coat and school trench-coat respectively and settled down to a fine afternoon tea. Amongst the gently tinkling sound of silver tea pots filling china teacups we would have sat at our starched linen clad table and daintily nibbled crust-less cucumber sandwiches and plump scones smothered in jewel bright strawberry jam. My godfather would have handed me my birthday present, maybe a pale blue gift bag stuffed with clouds of tissue paper and containing a pale blue beribboned box containing an elegant silver Tiffany pedant – possibly a starfish.
An idyllic picture and possibly one born of too many Agatha Christie reruns or Rosamund Pilcher novels. I certainly never went to a school that would have had a regulation trench-coat; I never had a godfather that would whisk me off to afternoon tea or lavish me with Tiffany trinkets. I am fairly sure my godparents (not that I could even name them) were on different continents by the time I was past the stage of puréed food so the
But fortunately on this nippy Christmas Eve we have managed to secure a late cancellation to their French Restaurant. I had tried previously to get a reservation but they are rather sought after so if was fortunate that a random call a few hours ago struck gold. We are here early as the whole of
Our little amuse bouche was a delicate creamy white onion soup topped with a little basil oil whilst the waiter sliced our chosen loaf off a large trolley. As the bread we’d had at Choice was a little stale, this seemed a good idea but possibly rather a palaver for a couple of slices of fresh bread.
I started with fat cushions of Tortellini of
Then to continue the fishy theme M tucked into the Cornish Seabass, Crab Tortellini, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Shellfish Foam which was another beautiful looking dish. The sea foam in particular gave it that very en vogue modern twist. And I was on hand to help with the odd pert Chantenay carrot.
In the mean time I was enjoying my Cutlet, Saddle, Rillette of Cumbrian Lamb, Buttered Leeks and Fondant Potatoes. A local lamb feast! The lamb was perfectly pink and beautifully cooked, the potato tower soft and buttery.
I probably missed a trick opting for the Welsh Rarebit in favour of the dessert menu. I could have had a Raspberry Soufflé or a Vanilla Brulée with homemade Garibaldi’s or indeed the delicious Tasting of Chocolate that M chose. Oh such dessert envy I suffered. There was chocolate mousse piled high with fruit, an oozing chocolate fondant and a slab of chocolate parfait and a delicate chocolaty wafer construction. What was I thinking of.
But if I had a lack of “a sweet finale” regret it was immediately sated by the wonderful sculptural petite fours silver tree adorned with various chocolates. We couldn’t do them justice but I really had to admire the special stand, there is a piece of table adornment I don’t have in my collection, oh woe is me!
The French at the