Afternoon Tea, Grand Pacific, Leeds – Review
By Kirsty Reid
When it comes to Halloween, I definitely favour treats over tricks. So, this year, I decided to ditch the horror movies, scare mazes and fancy dress, and indulge in some devilishly good food and drink courtesy of Grand Pacific, Leeds.
Situated inside the Queens Hotel, the all-day dining destination opened earlier this year as part of the Grade-II hotel’s £16million refurbishment.
Conjuring up images of refined women chit-chatting over tea and cake, it should come as no surprise to learn that we have royalty to thank for this quintessentially British tradition.
It is believed that Anna Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, invented afternoon tea back in 1840. Feeling peckish during the long wait between lunch and dinner, the Duchess asked that a tray of tea, bread and butter, and cake be brought to her boudoir mid-afternoon.
By the 1880s this mini meal had evolved into a more social affair, with upper-class women donning gowns, gloves and hats as they engaged in this relatively new tradition.
Though the Queen is said to take afternoon tea every day, for most of us it’s something enjoyed as an occasional treat or to celebrate a special event.
With Halloween a cause for celebration, it seems apt that Grand Pacific should put a seasonal twist on their high tea – something I was keen to indulge in.
Entering the exotic-themed restaurant, my eyes are drawn to a grand palm tree light fixture above the bar area as we are greeted by a friendly waiter who walks us to our table.
“Grandeur and intimacy”
Here, we find ourselves in a ‘mysterious exotic oasis splashed with eastern excitement and seasoned with echoes of empire’. Amid the dark interior, giant palms, ornamental pineapples and ornate, gilded mirrors adorn the room, while a 15-foot bespoke chandelier steals the show. It’s the perfect blend of grandeur and intimacy.
Our lovely waiter talks us through our dining options and dietary requirements, and we peruse the drinks menu before I settle on a pomegranate mojito (£9) – it is a treat, after all – and my other half opts for an Americano.
As we take in the building’s elegant interior over drinks, it’s not long before our food arrives. Unlike most afternoon teas, this one is served in two waves – savoury then sweet.
A three-tier stand of tempting savoury snacks soon sits before us. Starting with the top tier, we tuck into toasted crumpet with lobster butter, a rice arancini ball with goat’s cheese, followed by a rather tasty Eccles cake with creamy Lancashire cheese. Not much of a seafood lover myself, my other half makes the most of the middle tier, which features tuna and salmon tartare, and potato cake topped with salmon.
The fish was fresh and light, contrasting the bolder flavours in the first tier. The tartare had just the right amount of seasoning so as to not overpower it. The final tier is much more traditional – egg and mustard sandwiches are served alongside others filled with coronation chicken.
Loose-leaf tea is included with our meal, and I opt for a traditional breakfast tea while my other half (not much of a tea-drinker) settles on a cappuccino to enjoy with three tiers of sweet treats – yes, three tiers!
I am amazed by the plethora of bite-sized desserts on offer here. For me, the highlight is the seasonal apple and cinnamon scone, though I am slightly disappointed this is served with fresh rather than clotted cream. Any grumbles soon fade when I tuck into the pumpkin macaron. Not usually a fan of macarons, I was pleasantly surprised by the delicate flavour. Other treats include treacle toffee, hibiscus and strawberry trifle, coconut and lemon tart, chocolate cupcake and a s’mores chocolate pot (delicious, but perhaps a little rich for some).
With our stomachs well and truly satisfied we head into the city for a spot of shopping. I’m certain it won’t be long before we return to Grand Pacific to explore more of their menu. When it comes to fine dining and good service, this place is all treats, no tricks.
High Tea at Grand Pacific starts at £23pp; Halloween High Tea is available until 7th November.