In recent years we’ve seen the afternoon tea offerings in Birmingham move from the quaint and traditional at the Hyatt, to the uber modern at Hotel La Tour (I still use their Welsh-rarebit-fondue recipe that I knicked off the chef), to the travesty at the Macdonald Burlington hotel. Bar Opus, one of our favourite venues in town, have now started their own afternoon tea, this time with Hendrick’s Gin Cocktails – hic! We took tea with the proprietors for a boozy Saturday afternoon get together complete with live music from Felix from @EQRecordings. They’re planning that live artists will feature more often in their modern bar, located just two minutes from Snow Hill Railway Station.
I enjoy afternoon tea; from the formal napkins, tablecloth, silverware, end of the spectrum, to Opus’s considerably more fun and informal version. Opus’s tea has rushed to the head of the field in Brum – for their tea-pots can now contain a selection of Hendrick’s Gin cocktails. For the purposes of research, our table tried each of the three concoctions on offer: Flora Dora (gin, lime, raspberry, and ginger); the Martinez (gin, orange bitters, vermouth, and marasschino); and the Chelsea Rose (gin, apple, raspberry, and lemon). My favourite was the Martinez, a herbal mix but not too dry, my partner preferred the sharp but sweeter Flora Dora. You can of course also take normal boring tea, but why would you want to? January is blue enough without abstaining from booze.
Food arrived on tiered stands. While I enjoyed the finger sandwiches of cucumber & cream cheese, and of egg mayo, I was pleased to see it wasn’t all sandwiches. We also had a tasty salmon and dill quiche with crumbly pastry, and a pigging great ham hock terrine served with a piquant-tingle-your-nose piccalilli. I often think that afternoon tea can end up too cake heavy, but with the addition of these non-sandwich savouries it really balanced it out.
Not that I dislike a sweet. We moved on to fruit scones and plane scones (homemade, of course) with clotted cream and strawberry jam, with a nice addition of sliced fresh strawberries that lifted the flavour. I was getting quite full by this point, so I stopped for another teacup full of gin, purely as a digestif. Then on to the home strait, I scoffed a macaron, a lemon drizzle cup cake, and finally a slice of moist coffee and walnut cake. Oh. And a buttery, dark, sticky, chocolate brownie. As I believe my gym managing brother would say: it’s all about the gains (seriously though, he’s great, you can find his gym here if you’re looking for one in the DY).
Without the booze it’s £17.50 per person, but obviously you’ll want the gin at £50 for two people. Given that’s a couple of cup fulls of gin each, plus enough food to floor a racehorse (excuse the third horse racing reference, there), it’s an evening out in itself. They also offer a vegetarian option.
We like Bar Opus for its warm welcome, and we’re sure you’d all love it too. Give it a go, but make sure you go hungry!