The last few weeks have seen our Twitter and Instagram feeds peppered by teasing images of afternoon tea, delectable cakes and delicious looking cocktails served against a backdrop of black and white tiling, trailing ivy and crisp marble table tops. So after giving the new Rosylee Tea Rooms a few weeks to settle into its surroundings, we were more than eager to head down there for a proper look.
As soon as you ascend the few stairs from the street up to the light flooded venue, the bustling, edgy Northern Quarter feels a world - and an era away. High ceilinged, bright and refined with hints of Georgian and Edwardian design in its otherwise modern decor, walking into Rosylee Tea Rooms feels something like walking into the world of a classical novel. First you enter into a small annexe tea room with crisp black and white floor tiles and a small bar staffed by elegantly dressed bartenders. Entering through a set of french doors you then find yourself in the main restaurant area, with its rows of marble topped tables, and ceilings decorated by bell jar light fittings and cascading green ivy. Upstairs is a large room available for hire - and on the evening of our visit it was hosting a wedding party. Having seen the room all laid out it's hard to think of a more perfect venue for a wedding in Manchester.
Atmosphere and Clientele
The clientele of Rosylee Tea Rooms is female heavy, with groups of girlfriends sharing afternoon tea and cocktails, mums and daughters catching up over dinner and the odd couple enjoying a date. With clinking cutlery, cheery chatter and live piano music filling the room on some evenings, the venue has a relaxed atmosphere despite its refinement; taking some of that Northern Quarter informality and wrapping it up in a posture correcting corset. You'll naturally notice yourself you sitting up straight and minding your Ps and Qs here - though nobody will blink an eyelid if you use the wrong fork. Although having a strong focus on food, Rosylee is also just as welcoming to non-diners looking for just drinks; although with more of a restaurant feel to it the venue never feels as raucous as its neighbouring NQ bars. This is perhaps assisted by the fact that Rosylee currently closes at 10.30pm, making it a good spot for more civilised, early evening activities.
Food and Drink
The food and drink at Rosylee is as sophisticated - and pretty - as its surroundings. A range of menus cover breakfast, lunch, dinner, light bites, comfort food and desserts, and of course the all important afternoon tea. The bountiful drinks menu offers an extensive range of cocktails with eye-catching names (including an interesting range of iced tea cocktails named after literary classics), as well as a lengthy selection of wines, coffees and - of course - teas. Spoilt for choice, we asked the lovely waitress for recommendations and settled on 'Vanilla Skies' and a 'Rising Sun' - both refreshing, fruity numbers served in cut crystal Champagne flutes with a twist of lemon rind. If you order cocktails in the after-work hours, you'll also receive a complimentary plate of stylish canapes which we gladly wolfed down while we perused the food menu.
The descriptive menu is written to tempt and intrigue, with every dish on the menu sounding as intricate and interesting as the next. I went for a Ham Hock Terrine, which was wrapped in Parma ham and lavishly presented with toasted brioche a poached duck egg with hollandaise sauce, as well as a good dollop of chunky pineapple compote to lift the richly flavoured dish with some much needed zest. My companion opted for the Goats Cheese Bon Bons - a generous portion of breaded goats cheese balls scattered on a bed of pickled red cabbage tapenade, roasted red peppers, and pea shoots. To follow, we both chose from the tempting selection of salads. I say 'salads'; these are more like works of art. I had the Halloumi salad, with its very generous serving of crispy coated halloumi pieces tossed together with a vivid pea puree, pickled cucumber and a salad of mint, caper and pea shoots. My dining partner went for the Caesar - a gourmet take on the traditional dish with ballotine style chicken stuffed with pancetta and parsley mousse, nestling in a bed of crispy baby gem lettuce and delicious parmesan crisps. Special mention must also go to the side of Courgette Fritters drizzled in sweet chilli sauce and topped with shaved parmesan - apparently one of the most popular items on the menu and with good reason.
Despite being completely sated by our dishes we couldn't help having a peek at the dessert menu, which naturally led to ordering a Rose Creme Brulee with its hints of Turkish Delight, and the most exquisite chocolate eclairs we've ever indulged in. Oh Rosylee, you naughty lady.
It would be difficult not to fall in love with Rosylee Tea Rooms. From the decor to the food and the cocktails to the extremely attentive (and may we say, very well turned out) staff, every aspect of the Rosylee experience feels like a treat. With not a lace doily or chintzy tea pot in sight, this sophisticated venue has mastered the art of understated elegance, whilst retaining a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere. Although it would be nice to save this one for special occasions, that's looking unlikely - and we'll most definitely be back. Tomorrow, probably. And the day after...