Scones, cakes, sandwiches, tea. I suppose when you think about it, the food at a high tea is essentially quite easy to make for anyone culinary inclined, but it truly is the whole atmosphere of it that really gives it its novelty – the awe at the tier when it’s brought to your table, how dainty the sandwiches are, and the very lady-like procedure of pouring out your tea or spreading conserve and fresh cream onto your warm scones.
I was invited to a birthday high tea by a girlfriend from my law classes, and I was intrigued to hear that it was at the Victoria Room Tea Salon, the relatively new high tea place in Westfield’s Pitt St Mall, up on Level 4′s glamorous designer level. There actually isn’t a ‘room’ in itself, but rather an area fenced off in the middle of the floor with a short white picket fence. The noise level is not as loud as you would expect; probably because there’s not a lot of shoppers on the designer level
It’s very popular for a Saturday just-past-lunchtime high tea, and upon being seated we were automatically served water (tap, m’dear?) while we perused the extensive menu. While there were some very tempting iced drinks, I had been admiring the beautiful cups and thought it would be an absolute shame not to use them. I love all the paraphernalia with proper English tea – the teapot, the strainer, the milk jug, the cup with matching saucer, your little spoon, the sugar cubes and the adorable little tongs you use to pick them up.
And I was super-pleased when my Premium Earl Grey ($5.50) arrived, with not only a pot generously full of tea leaves, but also a proper strainer and what’s more – a strainer with a resting cup! I’ve been to many other cafes where they’ve given me a strainer but no rester, giving me lots of angst when trying to rest the strainer on the saucer around the cup, etc.
Okay, and yes, I know this is a high tea place but I hadn’t had lunch, and with the time hitting 3.00 o’clock, I was downright ravenous and wanted something more ‘lunchy’ rather than sweets. Acting on the birthday girl’s recommendation, I went for the Zucchini & haloumi fritters with avocado salsa and fresh spring salad ($19):
The fritters were verrrry nice, slightly crispy on the outside, the batter made with mostly zucchini but also a bit of carrot, with that gloriously cheesy haloumi all melted and creamy. The fritters were very tasty, although perhaps just a touch too salty, and when I commented on this to the birthday girl, she agreed that the last time she had them, she also remembered them being a bit too salty. The avocado salsa was a little spicy thanks to some capsicum, and they were also a little too generous with the Spanish onion, not making it the ideal thing to eat when out with the girls. The rocket salad was dressed lightly with olive oil and lemon.
Because I hadn’t had anything sweet, and the birthday girl knew that I was a blogger, she offered to share her scones with me. She had ordered two scones, one Plain and one Rose. Sweet scones are served with conserve and cream, while savoury scones are served with a whipped herb butter ($6.95 each).
The plain scone was speckled with vanilla bean seeds, but I decided to sample some of her rose scone. Usually I’m a bit wary of anything that’s rose-scented as I tend to find rosewater too overpowering and I end up thinking I’m eating potpourri.
My pre-conceptions were shattered. I gingerly took a small nibble of the rose scone with the conserve and cream and was astonished at how light the perfume was! Lightly scented and delicate, the scone in texture was crumbly and soft.
I’ll definitely have to make sure I come by another time and try out their high tea tier with a friend or even grab a couple of scones. With some tea, of course – drinking it with my pinky finger out
The Victoria Room Tea Salon
Level 4, Designer Gallery, Westfield Sydney
Corner Pitt St & Market St, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9357 4488