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. 

Moseley Park Beefeater, Wolverhampton

Hands up who is pleased to see a familiar chain restaurant nearby when you check into a budget hotel? Yeah, me too. With more of us travelling for work, or just looking to save the pennies when we’re away for short breaks, or occasions like hen parties, having a good place to eat without breaking the bank is an important option. When Beefeater asked me to review their new restaurant, Moseley Park, I decided to accept and investigate their offering.

Beefeater has been running restaurants since the 70s, but it appears to me that they’re currently in the process of trying to modernise the brand, and appeal to younger diners. With expanding into side brands like Bar + Block, inviting in bloggers and with new menu items popping up outside of the usual gastro-pub classics, it certainly looks that way.

Budget eating in Birmingham

Moseley Park is located next door to a Premier Inn, and has a sizeable carpark, which is free to use in the evenings. Be aware you will need change if you’re visiting during the day! The restaurant itself is clean and classic, with the familiar Beefeater fit out, but with some quirky details, like this sign in the lobby, which made me smile.

Food reviews

We were seated quickly, and our friendly waitress was immediately at the table to take drink orders. We hit our first snag of the evening, where after taking drink orders, we were then immediately asked if we would like to join Beefeater’s loyalty scheme. I know most brands with loyalty cards require staff to ask all visitors, but it seemed very odd to do this right at the start of the evening, when we hadn’t even opened a menu yet. Our waitress was incredibly polite about it, but Beefeater, if this is what you ask your staff to do, it’s quite awkward. At least wait until people have eaten.

The restaurant was mostly empty during our visit, with only a handful of tables around us occupied, so I was surprised when our waitress asked three times in the space of a few minutes if we were ready to order. We’re not usually slow to choose, but I do like to be able to have some of my drink and chat a little while I’m looking at the menu, and we did feel like we should have just sat and immediately picked something. Our waitress was super friendly, and very polite, just perhaps a touch over attentive.

Deli Platter

Beefeater currently have a selection of specials they’re calling the Great Taste of Britian. The dishes are modern british classics, and are limited edition. We chose a starter from this menu, and went for the Deli Sharing Plate. The plate has slices of dry-cured ham, two kinds of salami, stilton, cheddar, brie, pork pie, ciabatta bread, and is accompanied by an olive and feta mix, red onion marmalade and brown sauce. The platter arrived very quickly, and looked really appetising, with generous portions of all the items. Everything on it was tasty and simple, but I must admit, I really don’t understand what the brown sauce was doing as part of it. We both spread a little on the pie, but as there was only half a pie each, it seemed odd to have a huge pot of the sauce, as we couldn’t think of anything else on the plate that it would complement. Are they people out there eating brown sauce on stilton that I don’t know about? The butter provided with the bread was also a bit stingy. If it was up to me, I’d get rid of the brown sauce, and provide a ramekin of butter in it’s place.

Within moments of our starter being cleared, our mains hit the table. Again, as it was quiet, I was surprised that they felt the need to get courses out so fast, as they obviously didn’t need the table back quickly.

Sirloin Steak

On the recommendation of our waitress, I ordered the 8oz Sirloin, with béarnaise sauce and skinny, spicy fries. Beefeater now offer the choice of chunky or skinny chips, which you can have regular or spicy. They also offer free refills on chips, which is a nice touch. The chips themselves were good, crisp on the outside, fluffy inside and well flavoured with the spice mix. The sauce was creamy and full of flavour. The steak, unfortunately, wasn’t great. I ordered medium rare, and it was immediately obvious it wasn’t cooked like that when I cut into it. and was in fact cooked to medium. I don’t mind medium steak, so I ate it anyway, but it was a shame, especially as I’d ordered the sirloin because it was suggested to us as an excellent item on the menu. I do think if you call yourself a steakhouse, cooking steak as ordered should be about the minimum requirement, really.

Lamb Rump

Dave did much better with his choice of Minted Rump of Lamb. Ironically, the lamb was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It was pink in the middle and beautifully tender, with a crisp chargrilled coating. The dauphinoise potatoes were well cooked too, and the red wine and thyme sauce was well flavoured and tasty. I had some pretty serious food envy.

Gin & Tonic

By this point, I’d spotted the British specials also included fancy gin and tonics. They offer three different gins, with a choice of garnishes. As a gin fan, I was pleased to see this, so I ordered a Sipsmith’s gin, with the elderflower syrup and lime. After a few moments, our waitress reappeared and told me they only had elderflower cordial. After some confusion of me trying to explain I wanted the one advertised on the British specials menu and the waitress looking blank, I had to give her the menu and point out where the new gin options were advertised. This had to be taken to the bar for the barman to see before I could get the drink I ordered. I know all too well that new menus are confusing, having worked in chain pubs myself, but the British menu isn’t that large, and I would expect Beefeater to be training their staff on new items, especially on something as basic as splashing some elderflower syrup into a G&T.

Our main plates were cleared quickly, and our desserts arrived almost instantly. By this point, we’d been in the building less than an hour, which is much too fast for three courses. While prompt service is good, being given your food within seconds of ordering it makes you feel very rushed, which seems daft when the place is quiet. I felt uncomfortably full as I’d tried to cram in the food so fast, when I hadn’t actually eaten an extravagant amount.

Sorbet

For dessert, I chose the Lemon Curd Sorbet. Garnished with a sprig of (I think) mint, it looked attractive, and was light and refreshing. The lemon was sharp, and the ripples of lemon curd were a nice touch of sweetness.

Banoffee Pie

Dave opted for the Banoffee Pie. It looked delicious, with slices of banana laid on top, with a drizzle of caramel sauce, instead of the usual thick layer in the middle. According to Dave, this was better than the traditional method, as it made the dessert a lot less rich and sickly, but still had plenty of tasty caramel flavour.

All in all, our experience was a bit of a mixed bag. Dave was pleased with everything he ate, and it did look good. I was disappointed by my steak, and by the palaver of trying to order something more complex than a standard house gin and tonic. I definitely felt the rapid pace of courses was too much, especially with the restaurant not being busy. Three courses in an hour is not for me. The restaurant itself was pleasant inside, and all the staff we spoke to were super friendly. You’d be well looked after if you were eating here while staying at the Premier Inn next door.

I still think Beefeater is a good option if you’re on the road, and want something easy, but if they are trying to push the boat out a little with some trendier menu options, they do need to make sure their staff are actually aware they exist. They also need to be careful not to lose quality on the sort of food people associate with the brand, like the steaks. We didn’t sign up for that loyalty card…

 

I was invited to review Moseley Park Beefeater, for a meal up to the value of £60. The rest was paid for by myself. All opinions are honest and my own.