Ma and Pa Lee spoiled me for my 40th birthday, and this weekend, six months later, I finally got to redeem one of my BuyAGift vouchers with an Italian Style Afternoon Tea at Bardolino Birmingham.
Note about using a BuyAGift voucher: Despite booking online and receiving email confirmation from BookATable that my voucher had been accepted and the afternoon tea pre-paid, this information was not acceptable to the staff at Bardolino and the voucher itself was required. Luckily Ma and Pa Lee were able to pop round to the Brummie Home and Abroad abode and not only retrieve the voucher but send me a photograph, which was finally, grudgingly, accepted. Moral of this story: Always take the voucher with you. Or have parents who are handily located to help you out of a sticky situation.
Bardolino is located canalside on Level 6 of The Cube, and is also used by The Club and Spa Birmingham as part of their spa day packages, so don’t be surprised if you’re sharing your dining area with people dressed in robes and smelling slightly chlorinated. Bardolino was being refurbed when I visited The Club and Spa back in May 2016, hence our unexpected spa day lunch at the 25th floor Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse, Bar & Grill. But Bardolino is also part of the MPW family, named after the birthplace of Marco’s mother Maria-Rosa. It is light and airy, with full-length windows overlooking the canal and it was reasonably busy at 2:30, so bookings are definitely recommended.
It’s more of a casual dining restaurant than the steakhouse above, priding itself on offering good quality pizzas and bellinis, and it also offers an Italian style afternoon tea at £29 per person, or an additional £3.50 per person for a glass of Prosecco or a bottle of Peroni. Mr Fletche and I are seated at a window table, and after the initial confusion over our voucher (or lack of it), we finally get our hands on a glass of fizz each. This is however sparkling wine rather than the aforementioned Prosecco.
One thing that is clearly lacking at this point is the offer of any hot beverage. I always believe that afternoon tea should indeed include “tea” in the drinking sense. It is not until we have finished our food and are gathering our things to leave that the waiter asks if we would like tea or coffee. The service is unfortunately poor with the staff seeming disinterested and not once checking if all is okay or if we require any further drinks; a complete contrast to the last time I was here for lunch with the girls (you can see that write-up here as part of an Out and About in Brum round-up from March 2017).
The food is brought over on a handy shelving unit and of course there is the obligatory photo-taking before we can start nibbling. It’s beautifully presented, and although this is advertised as an Italian style afternoon tea, I do mourn the lack of sandwiches and scones. What can I say, I’m an afternoon tea purist.
It’s a mixed bag when it comes to the food. There’s nothing particularly special or complex about a bruschetta with mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. The sweet potato fries are tasty but lukewarm, as are the slightly overcooked mini sliders. I’m not an olive fan so it’s up to Mr Fletche to eat these, although the ham wrapped around an unidentifiable green mush (guacamole maybe?) was quite nice. The desserts are a disappointment, with the tiramisu declared the outright winner. The chocolate brownie is very dry and the citrus tart is a little too lemony. The amount of food is about right though, as we don’t end up feeling too full or having to take food away with us, and we feel like it has been a substantial afternoon snack (although not substantial enough to stop us eating tapas from El Borracho at 1000 Trades on the way to the train station…).
The food or experience isn’t a patch on the afternoon tea that Mr Fletche & I had at Marco’s Steakhouse, Bar & Grill in December 2015, which retains a much more traditional feel and the customer service has been impeccable every time I’ve visited. And it certainly doesn’t beat the wonderful offering at The Edgbaston. Even our freebie afternoon tea at the Hyatt Birmingham (courtesy of a Mr Fletche photo contest win) ticked more boxes. I would return to Bardolino for their lunchtime offering as I had a top-notch pizza here previously, but I’d put their afternoon tea low down on my recommendation list.
**Our afternoon tea at Bardolino was a birthday present from Ma and Pa Lee, purchased via BuyAGift.com
You can find Bardolino at Level 6 of The Cube, Birmingham B1 1RN. Their website, including opening hours and menus, is https://www.mpwrestaurants.co.uk/our-brands/bardolino/birmingham/
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