It was a strange day, full of anxiety and mild disappointment. There had been something about the week that was off and it was a bit stressful. Saturday came around and I had booked afternoon tea at the Dakota Hotel in Manchester. I was very excited but also a little apprehensive. I had had a so so experience with dessert and Baileys coffee there before and the afternoon tea was pretty expensive at £28. Over the previous few days I had spent a lot on a few things and was conscious of spending more and not getting a good experience.
The day had been planned with a visit to Manchester Art Gallery then Afternoon Tea. I got to my local train station and saw that there were a few “blokes”, “lads” about. They were footy fans. Oh Fuck. That’s my prejudice about footy fans. I expected some shit to happen because, football hooligans etc. Nothing happened.
It had not been long since Covid restrictions had been eased and so I was wondering whether to wear my mask or not. I put it on, took it off, put it on and decided to keep it on for the protection of others and myself. Most people weren’t wearing masks anymore.
I got to Manchester and it was rammed with football fans and people generally. Again I was on edge. There were some chanters and I wondered if they were going to be dicks. They were just loud and annoying but nothing more. I saw the odd group and crossed the street or avoided them.
I got to the Art Gallery and it was an oasis of calm. It was an escape from all that stuff. I spent a couple of hours in there because I am one of those people that looks closely at everything and reads all the plaques. I don’t get the people that just breeze past everything with only cursory looks. It just seems like there’s no real appreciation of the work.
On the way to Dakota I checked out most of the food places en route. At Ducie Street Warehouse there’s a stand from Gooey Doughnuts. I had a look but it was “Fucking hell, how much?!” for a doughnut/cookie. I bought four doughnuts for about £12.
Dakota is stunning
They seem to have an alcove for afternoon tea. There was a couple of women in there already.
I chose the standard afternoon tea.
It started badly with the tea. I’d asked for one tea and they didn’t have it. I ordered Earl Grey instead. It was unbearably strong and I just couldn’t drink it. I told the waitress and she said I could have as many teas as I wanted so I had it changed. The replacement, breakfast tea, was much better.
The Parmesan and truffle amuse bouche was amazing. One of the nicest things I’ve eaten.
It looked a little disappointing as it was on a saucer. They were all lovely though. As ever the salmon one was the best.
It looks fairly impressive but everything was really dinky. The lemon meringue cake and the mango macaron were a bit meh. The chocolate tart was gorgeous but so tiny. The highlight was the pistachio mousse. Stunning. The scone was quite good. At the end I had some jam and cream left. I built up my courage and asked for another. The waitress brought me one hot from the oven. It was gorgeous. Crisp on the outside, warm and soft inside.
I asked for a cocktail. I’d seen a caramel Bailey’s thing. I asked if it was very creamy. We decided on a version that wasn’t too creamy. It came and was a disappointment. Just cold coffee and some booze and nothing special. I should have just had the original drink or a Bailey’s coffee.
I think I was set up to feel disappointed by the day and my mood.
I did have a nice conversation with the women on the next table. It started with a mistake when the waitress brought their tea stand and I realised that it was a single serving. It was mine. They offered to give it to me. I declined. The waitress arrived having spotted her mistake. She brought the rest of their sweets. Now that really looked measly as it all fit onto a saucer. You see how much of a rip off afternoon tea can be. I had to wait a bit for mine to come.
We talked about afternoon tea in the city and surrounding areas. They were new to it all. They asked about the order of eating. We discussed jam and cream or cream and jam. I mentioned the blog. It was all very pleasant.
There was a funny thing with the waitresses. They were lovely and they were almost all the same shape. It was like the recruitment poster said “you must be this thin to join us”. Pipe cleaner thin.
One waitress was from Scotland. I had a nice chat with her as I lived in Scotland for a while and I’d been on holiday to where she was from.
The train trip home was like the train trip to Manchester. The football fans were heading home. I sat down. A stunning woman sat a few rows in front then some footy fans got on and thought, “what are they going to do to her?” Nothing. They just sat and chatted. The woman got off and nothing happened.
It was eventually my stop. My anxiety rose a little. Would they say something or do something? I had to get past one of them. I said, “excuse me,” and he just moved. Then one of them said, “your mask is sick.” I said oh thanks and carried on. I was wearing my Thundercats face mask. How nice of him.
It was a nice day. It was a disappointing day. Things seemed to be bad weren’t. I built things up and they and they weren’t all that.
I don’t know if I’d recommend Dakota. The women next to me seemed happy with it. There were good bits and not so good bits. The place is gorgeous. The lighting wasn’t great for photography so that irked me throughout the afternoon. If all the food came on the stand instead of the sandwiches coming separately it would have been more impressive. You would feel you were getting more through the power of perception.
The Library at The Radisson costs the same and is better. The Lowry is cheaper and better. Kingstreet Townhouse is much cheaper.
I don’t know.