Park Regis Hotel Afternoon Tea - 3.5 out of 5
If you enjoy reading my afternoon tea reviews you may remember that I visited the Park Regis hotel in August 2016 as a birthday treat for my mom and I gave it 4 out of 5 (click here to read that review). Well, I got the chance to visit the Park Regis Hotel again and they had just updated their afternoon tea menu so it was perfect timing to review their offering again.
The reason for visiting was due to my dear friend Yen's birthday. We have been friends from college and the whole college gang tend to meet up on occasions such as this, and seeing as we were all too busy over Christmas to meet up we treated this as a Christmas get together as well. Yes, I know, in February! But at least we actually all managed to be together as one group and swap presents. I literally had to dust off the presents as I removed them from the top of my wardrobe, and let me tell you, wrapping Christmas presents in February isn't half depressing.
Anyway, we had originally been booked into Hotel Du Vin, after which I was asked for my opinion (seeing as I am a self styled expert at eating afternoon teas). I had to be honest, the last time I went was a few years ago and I found it very underwhelming. But to be fair it was only £15 and things may have improved. At that point I remembered that Hotel Du Vin had been in the Birmingham Mail for scoring a shocking zero for food hygiene. I double-checked and that was still the case. So, that booking was promptly cancelled. We needed a good alternative so I suggested Hotel La Tour, Edgbaston Boutique Hotel and Park Regis. We had been to Hotel La Tour as a group twice before so we fancied a change, the Edgbaston Boutique is super popular and you need to book way in advance so our final choice was the Park Regis.
I was secretly quite pleased because I knew they had just released their new afternoon tea menu and I could use this visit as a review for this blog. Even if it meant being really strict with my friends by forcing them to wait for me to take photos before they dived in.
Just in case you can't remember, the Park Regis Hotel is a tall grey tower at Five Ways Island at the top of Broad Street in Brum city centre. It's very easy to get to whether driving or via public transport. There is also plenty of parking nearby.
Afternoon tea at the Park Regis is taken in the 1565 Restaurant located on the fourth floor. It's an opulent restaurant with lots of shiny brass and sumptuous seating and carpets. You do feel very special by just being in there.
As with my last visit, you could not fault the friendly and very accommodating staff. They were exemplary and a credit to the Park Regis. As a group, we had a lot of dietary requirements due to allergy reasons, religious reasons, or just plain fussiness. We also had a 5 year old child with us. The staff were really good at providing for our needs, adapting their menu and it really felt like nothing was too much trouble. Excellent service.
The foundation of good afternoon tea is the quality of the tea provided, and the Park Regis uses top quality loose leaf tea. The tea menu was the same as the last time I visited and this time I chose their own house blend, which was a very nice black tea that was smooth in the mouth and didn't require milk. They did their usual trick of removing the leaves from the pot so that both cups you pour are perfectly brewed. This confused one of my friends who wondered where her leaves had gone when she came to stir the pot.
If you remember from my last review, the amuse bouche we had was pate on toast and that left me feeling a little underwhelmed. Well, let me tell you, they have certainly raised their game since my last visit. For the amuse bouche we were treated to these curious wafer cones attached to the ends of long cocktail sticks which were secured to the plate with rubber suckers. Within each cone was a dollop of handmade chicken liver pate and topped with a tiny slice of pineapple and a tiny snip of chive. We all had different coloured wafer cones. Mine was a pale yellow colour and that was because it had been flavoured with curry powder. The pate was smooth, light and really flavoursome. The whole amuse bouche was absolutely delicious. Bravo Park Regis! One of my friends didn't like the look of it (fussy eater), so I got to have hers (result) which was a green coloured cone and it had a distinct onion flavour. Equally as delicious as the curry version I had. An excellent start to our afternoon tea.
Next came the main part of the afternoon tea. They have changed the Wetherspoon style blue and white tiered plates to black slate on a wooden frame, which looked very fancy and the black background really made the colours of the cakes pop. There was a collective sound of ooo and ahhs coming from our group when these arrived. At which point I became a photo bore. Haha.
We had no menu to explain what lay before us, for which our host apologised as it was a new menu and they hadn't printed it out yet. So no beautiful leather bound menus like last time and it meant I had to really pay attention as our host rattled off the contents of our afternoon tea. So I may be incorrect in some parts.
Sandwich wise, we were treated to gammon and mustard, roast beef and tomato in a burger bun complete with mini skewer, smoked salmon in a spinach wrap and the obligatory cucumber sandwich. The smoked salmon wrap was the highlight of the sandwich range, it was really tasty with a good quantity of salmon, the smoky flavour really shone through. The roast beef and tomato half burger, which had some chargrilled lines on the side, really looked the part, but the roast beef was wafer thin and it just tasted bland as a result. The cucumber sandwich was perfectly fine as cucumber sandwiches go but the real let down was the gammon and mustard sandwich. When I think of gammon I envisage a chunk meat. As I opened my sandwich (I'm one of these people that has a sneaky peak inside sandwiches before eating) there lay before me a ton of mustard on one layer of wafer thin ham. I couldn't hold back from declaring to my friends that this wasn't gammon, it was wafer ham. So I was a little disgruntled by that and the mustard was a tad overpowering because there was too much. What made things worse was when I was browsing my Instagram account the 1565 restaurant (who I follow) reposted an image of their afternoon tea as snapped by a happy customer. Who clearly had big chunks of gammon in her sandwich! No wonder she was happy. Talk about feeling hard done by. Woe is me! Anyway, I need to learn to move on, but I can't, so I have included photographic evidence to express the sense of injustice.
Maybe, as it was a new menu, there may have been some organisational issues and lack of preparedness. Who knows. But if you get wafer thin ham instead of gammon then speak up. Oh, which reminds me, the birthday girl had an issue with her cucumber sandwich, or rather lack of it. Look at that! I found it hilarious (probably because it didn't happen to me) and we did suggest to her that she should complain but she didn't want to. Which I can totally understand, we're polite English people who find the thought of complaining a bit awkward, especially when you have a group of friends staring at you as you attempt to do so. To be fair to the Park Regis, I have every confidence they would have bent over backwards to sort that sandwich out if we gave them the opportunity. But, it shouldn't have happened in the first place and we shouldn't have to complain.
Right, next up we ate the scones. I was delighted to see they kept the savoury cheese and chive scone, which was a real highlight of my last visit. Just like last time it was delicious and moreish and something that it is making my mouth water I was recall the memories. And again, just like my last visit, the fruit scone was dry and a bit of let down. I think they may be over baking it, just by a few minutes. Scones, although simple in design can be hard to execute perfectly. The fruit scones were accompanied by the standard jam and clotted cream.
The cakes that we were treated to looked fantastic. The chefs at the Park Regis have really gone to town with the presentation of their sweet treats and they have showed real skill and talent with these creations. We had an orange delight, a cherry cheesecake, an opera cake, a green tea macaron and lemon and grapefruit jelly mousse in a glass. The orange delight was an orange jelly cup filled with orange mousse with white chocolate piping and the segments were filled with orange jelly. It was a work of art. Fantastic. However, the orange delight only had a faint taste of orange. It lacked punch. The cherry mousse was a rich purple moulded cheesecake with chunks of cherry in the middle. It looked delicious but tasted a bit bland, which was a shame. The opera cake was the best of all the cakes, it was really tasty. It wasn't like a normal opera cake which is coffee flavoured, it was almond and chocolate and I suspect the green layers were pistachio. Anyway, it was a real masterpiece. The obligatory macaron was supposed to be green tea flavoured, and as usual, tasted of almonds. Lastly, was the shot glass filled with a layer of yellow lemon mousse, a layer of green jelly, and a layer of grapefruit mousse. If I'm honest, I have never eaten anything so unpleasant at an afternoon tea. The first teaspoon was a shock, very tart and bitter. But I kept going to see if things improved as my palate acclimatised to the tartness. Nope, it was just a real unpleasant experience. I like tart desserts, like gooseberry crumble for example, but instead of it being tart and sweet it was tart and bitter at the same time. As I looked about our group, no one had finished that particular dessert. Thumbs down with that one I'm afraid.
So, as afternoon tea experiences go this, just like my last visit, was a rollercoaster of highs and lows. The staff treat you like royalty and the setting is opulent and glitzy. The effort put into the cakes showcase the talent of the chefs and they should be proud of the work they put into their presentation. However the highlights were dragged down by the lowlights. The opera cake was sensational, but the layered mousse was unpleasant and the rest of the cakes, although they looked amazing lacked the taste to match. The savoury scone was also fantastic, but the fruit scone was below standard. The salmon wrap was delicious but the wafer thin gammon and roast beef were disappointing. Oh and the amuse bouche was amazing, much better than last time.
Considering that this afternoon tea costs £24.60 including service charge it comes in as more expensive than Hotel La Tour and the Edgbaston Boutique Hotel which both charge £25 but don't include a service charge. You can elect to take the service charge off which makes the Park Regis afternoon tea comparable in price, but both the Edgbaston Boutique Hotel and Hotel La Tour are much better. They have far fewer faults then the Park Regis so you have much better value for money.
So I give the Park Regis Hotel afternoon tea 3.5 out of 5. Which is a half point drop compared with last time because I found more to fault this time. However, it pains me to drop their score because it is obvious that a lot of effort has gone into their new menu by their team, but they were really let down by their sandwich meat (maybe a one off issue) and that jelly mousse thing. I had a very good afternoon tea at the Park Regis, but it wasn't excellent. However, with all these minor faults, it still ranks in my opinion as the third best afternoon tea in Brum and I will definitely return in the future.
This afternoon tea was personally paid for by Tom Grimmett and the review reflects his personal opinions and experiences and are completely honest. It does not reflect the views of Togri Bakery.