Hendricks Afternoon Tea at 1565, Park Regis, Birmingham

Afternoon tea and gin are two of my very favourite thing, so when I heard that 1565 at Park Regis did a Hendricks Afternoon Tea, I knew exactly what I wanted to do for my birthday. Dave and I both had the day off, so we booked in to give the afternoon tea a try.

Hendricks Afternoon Tea

Rather than the traditional tea, the Hendricks Afternoon Tea is served with a cocktail. The Hendricks cocktail is Hendricks gin, jasmine tea and elderflower syrup, in a tea pot. The cocktail was very light and refreshing. Definitely deadly though, as it wasn’t boozy tasting at all. Dave and I both really enjoyed it, which is saying something, as Dave isn’t a gin fan as a rule, or much of a drinker at all. You can add tea or coffee to the afternoon tea as well, and the staff checked in on us regularly to make sure we were suitably decaffeinated. 1565 serve Starbucks coffee, which I will admit to not being the biggest fan of, but I had a pretty decent latte.

Amuse Bouche

Before the main event, we were brought out an amuse bouche, with smoked salmon on rye bread and a chicken liver parfait in a green crisp cornety thing, which looked like alien deelyboppers, but were super delicious. The salmon was gorgeous, but we were both amazed by the parfait. It was light, and creamy with a good strong flavour of chicken liver. Whatever was in the cones was a great complement to it.

Afternoon Tea

The Hendricks Afternoon Tea itself is presented very simply, on a two tier slate board. The simple presentation worked perfectly, allowing the bright colours and pretty pastries to pop. The whole tea is inspired by the botanicals in the Hendricks gin, so there’s a lot of cucumber, elderflower and rose, as well as the classic afternoon tea flavours.

  Sandwiches

First, the sandwiches. We had four kinds; Cucumber & Mint Cream Cheese, Honey Roast Gammon Ham with Dijon Mustard, Rare Roast Beef, Horseradish &Tomato in a  Brioche Bun and a Smoked Salmon & Chive Crème Fraîche Wraps. The bread was fluffy, the wrap was packed full of salmon but the real standout was the beef brioche rolls. The beef was cooked to a perfect rare, and was really tender. The kick from the horseradish was a really nice contrast against the sweet brioche bun.

Scones

There were two kinds of scones, which made me very happy. The savoury scone was Cheese and Chive, served with Maldon Sea Salt Butter. The cheese flavour came through beautifully and the butter was  a triumph. It was so well whipped it looked almost like cream, and was salty enough to provide a nice flavour with the scone. Still warm, inside, the fruit scone was my favourite. I piled on the clotted cream and the jam and was in scone heaven.

Afternoon Tea in Birmingham

The pastries were designed by 1565’s pastry chef, and are handmade on site every day. There were all so pretty, and colourful, and looked so enticing. We had a Rose & Gin Macaroon, Cucumber & Rose Cupcake, Elderflower Chocolate Opera Cake, Chocolate & Cucumber Tart and a Cucumber and Rose Delice.

Pastries

Each pastry was so tasty, and so well flavoured. The Macaroon was my favourite, which has a strong rose flavour, almost like Turkish Delight. The cucumber cupcake was like a good carrot cake. Savoury, and moist, with sweet cream cheese icing. The opera cake was rich and chocolatey, without tipping into being sickly. Dave’s favourite, the white chocolate tart was baked in some of the most delicate pastry I’ve ever seen. I didn’t get much cucumber taste from this, but the white chocolate was fantastic. The Delice was somehow incredibly strongly cucumber flavoured. It was tasty, but definitely unusual, and I think the small piece was exactly the right serving size. Any more would have been just too much cucumber.

1565, Park Regis

The 1565 restaurant is such a relaxed vibe, with chic furniture, funky light fittings and low music. It was relatively quiet when we went in, but it didn’t feel empty, as the restaurant is divided into clear ‘zones’ or the bar, the lounge and the main restaurant, allowing the staff to seat people so it feels busier. Dave and I were both super relaxed by the time we left, as it was so calming in there! The staff were polite, friendly, and knowledgeable, talking us through each element of the Hendricks Afternoon Tea and checking up on us throughout without hovering.

We were both thoroughly impressed by 1565 and the Hendricks Afternoon Tea. It was the perfect birthday treat. I’d definitely like to go back and test out the main menu, as what I could see being eaten on other tables looked delicious!

 

The Hendricks Afternoon Tea was booked and paid for entirely by ourselves. 1565 and Park Regis didn’t know I was a blogger. All opinions are entirely honest and my own. 

Damascena Coffee House, Birmingham

I often joke that I’m too spoiled for choice in Birmingham for food. When you spend a lot of time with food bloggers, they’re always telling you about somewhere to try, and between your own invites, recommendations from other bloggers, and general eateries you’ve heard good things about, your list of places to try gets ludicrous. Because of this, I’ve also joked that if I actually make it to the same place more than once, I must really like it.

Damascena Coffee House, on Temple Row, is obviously my new favourite place, because Dave and I visited twice in the last fortnight. The first visit was an impromptu, as it’s actually right by our bus stop. I didn’t have the camera, but we loved it, so we knew we had to go back.

Chai latte

On our second visit, I went for the Chocolate Chai Latte. On our previous visit, I’d had the Vanilla version, which I adored. Aromatic, creamy and comforting. The chocolate version wasn’t quite as good, but still delicious, like a good hot chocolate. They have impressive lists of chai lattes, teas, juices, coffees, hot chocolates, milkshakes…I need to try them all I think.

Damascena Coffee House

Dave’s Vanilla Milkshake was made with proper icecream, which is my favourite kind of ‘shake. Dave isn’t a coffee drinker, so we’re always impressed by ‘coffee’ places that offer alternatives that are as good as their coffee options. Damascena definitely does this.

Shawarma

Because we’re predictable, we actually ordered the same thing, so I’ll let you know what we ate last time too, even though I don’t have pictures of them. We each ordered the Lamb Shawarma, with a side of Vine Leaves to share. The Shawarma is marinated lamb strips, garlic dressing and gerkins in a wrap. Make sure you have a stack of napkins handy for this one, as there is a lot of dressing in there and the meat is so succulent, you are going to get messy. It is absolutely delicious though, and there is so much flavour in the meat. The side salad of olives and a mix of pickled…somethings…cuts through what could be a heavy flatbread and creamy dressing, bringing some tanginess. We both devoured these and loved them.

The vine leaves are stuffed with rice and herbs. The leaves are tangy, with loads of filling inside. Like everything else at Damascena, there is a lot of flavour here. I would definitely recommend getting these to share as a side between two of you, as I think eating four of these alone would be too much, as the flavour is a strong one.

We’ve also tried the Halloumi Wrap, and the Tahini Kofta, and we were equally impressed by both of those. The cafe itself is gorgeous inside, with the decor reflecting the menu, which is influenced by the city of Damascus. They pride themselves on offering food that is healthy, freshly prepared and delicious, with lots of vegetarian options.

We’re hooked. We’ll be back.

 

Whenever we’ve visited, we’ve paid full price ourselves. Damascena don’t know I was a blogger. 

The Chop, at Rush Hair and Beauty

A drastic haircut is always a scary thing. I’ve had my hair lots of lengths over the years, but it’s been long for a long while now. It was more than time for a change, and I decided for a much shorter cut. I booked myself in with Rush, Birmingham. I’ve been to a blogger event there, but never actually as a customer. Rush are currently offering 50% off for new clients, which I used when I booked. I love to be able to book online, and their booking system was super easy to use.

For perspective, I took this blogger classic mirror selfie the morning of haircut day.

Rush is smack in the city centre, which is ideal. The salon itself is really nice, with huge mirrors so everyone can have a good gossip while they’re in. A friendly receptionist took my coat and I was handed over to my stylist, Richard. I’d actually met Richard before at their blogger launch, but he didn’t appear to recognise me. In the interest of disclosure, I did reveal my identity to him halfway through the cut, but by then, I was confident he was nice regardless of whether you’re a blogger or not. We talked through what I wanted, and I went off to have my hair washed.

Unfortunately, the young girl who washed my hair could not have been less interested in me. It stuck out, as everyone else at Rush was chatty and friendly. This one started badly by failing on all basic manners, instead roughly yanking my hair about, informing me “Your hair is so long” in a stroppy way while she struggled to get a towel round my shoulders and shove me back against the sink. She just about managed to ask if the water was too hot, before she went back to ignoring me all together. Instead, she chatted to the other girl washing hair, who appeared to be ignoring her client too. You’ll be glad to know both girls were incredibly bored, and they really hate listening to the salon’s playlist on a loop all day. Look, I’ve worked retail, I know it’s dull as hell listening to the same songs over and over, and I’m sure washing hair all day is a snore, but Rush isn’t a cheap salon. If I’m paying that much to be there, I’ve paid it because I want a nice experience. Listening to the girl washing your hair whinge, after she’s man-handled your head, isn’t really ideal.

Thankfully, it was back to nice Richard. He was friendly and professional, and had just the right amount of chat. I’m not really one for small talk, and I really appreciate it when my hairdresser is sociable, but not behaving like we’re besties. Being able to get the right amount of small talk for your client is a real skill, and Richard clearly has it.

The cut itself was done pretty quickly, and Richard asked lots of questions so he could get the best finish for me and the amount of maintenance I’m willing to do myself. A blow-dry with a round brush later, and I was done.

Hair cut

Here’s the finished do. Much shorter, with some long layers through. Exactly what I wanted.

Rush have offers running a lot, so it’s always worth checking the site before you book. Overall, I was pleased. The cut itself was great, and most of the people I dealt with were lovely. Maybe they need to have a little word with the ones washing hair though…

 

I paid using a 50% off voucher available to all first-time clients. I was not invited to review, and until halfway through the cut, Rush didn’t know I was a blogger. All opinions are honest and my own.