More than 30 years have passed since my first afternoon tea.
The venue was a venerable old tearoom in York and it was a stodgy sort of affair.
The drably decorated venue was packed with staid old ladies – in my memory all of them wearing hats, though probably none did – who might have walked straight out of the pages of an Alan Bennett script.
They spoke in gentrified, hushed Yorkshire tones as they nibbled sandwiches that were dull, though the tea and cakes were good.
Now, of course, afternoon teas have been reinvented as fashionable, contemporary and luxurious.
Which is certainly true of that at The Edgbaston, the boutique hotel and cocktail bar, where I was invited to experience the new spring afternoon tea menu.
There was a great buzz about the place as I drank pink champagne in a room filled mostly with women.
The occasion began theatrically, with a amuse bouche arriving amid swirling clouds of dry ice vapour spiked with lavender.
The dish itself was an indulgent but not overly-sweet combination of chocolate, lime, ginger and yoghurt with a short bread crumb.
Dainty sandwiches and small savoury bites were light, sophisticated, beautifully crafted and full of taste and texture.
Cakes, too, were glorious, especially a light raspberry cheesecake that was vibrantly flavoured.
Make no mistake: The Edgbaston’s talented and widely experinced head chef Olivier Briault and his small team are producing some truly classy stuff.
It’s a tremendous treat and indulgence.
Prices for afternoon tea at The Edgbaston start at £25 a head.
SPRING AFTERNOON TEA MENU
Shortbread, Chocolate sauce, Lime and Ginger Yoghurt Sorbet
Sandwiches / Savouries
Prawns cocktail salad, tomato, onion, pineapple, pepper
Kaltbach Alpine Creamy Cheese, crostini, spicy carrot jel, walnut
Egg mayonnaise, watercress, freshly baked brioche
Lemon and honey glazed chicken with cucumber, homemade mixed seed bread
Coconut and milk chocolate macaroon with poppy seed and sea salt Chocolate sponge, lemongrass espuma and passion fruit caviar
Classic raspberry cheesecake.
Paris Brest (almond and hazelnut profiterole)
Freshly baked scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam.
18 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 3DU. 0121 454 5212.