High Tea QVB Sydney
Oh how I love a high tea. There are few things that brighten up a weekend better than a three-tiered serving plate and a posh pot of tea. In fact few things brighten up life better than that methinks.
I am a big fan. Perhaps the biggest. It’s just so ridiculously lovely to get away from everything in general, dress up and play tea party much like little girls. Surrounded by silverware, cute little tea cups, bite size sweets and lush interiors. Being waited on left, right and center.. Ah, such delight.
My favourite, and my benchmark, is Fortnum and Mason in London. They just do it better. Plus you get to roam around this gorgeous old building and beautifully laid out shops as well. But lest not forget that high tea is far more than just a British phenomenon. It worked its way around the world with imperialism, and can now be found (and enjoyed) through most ex-colonies and in many back yards.
My first Australian encounter with this my favourite treat, came in shape of a surprise date at the Team Room, Queen Victoria Building in Sydney.
The QVB is lovely in its own right. High end shops and cute cafes in a balcony lay-out, all wrapped up in magnificent old architecture. The lift that takes you up to the Tea Room is no less old and grand, as is the style of the reception that awaits you as the lift doors slide open.
Plusses and minuses..
Waiting to be seated lends a sneak peek at the grand ballroom housing the Tea Room. A tad bit disappointing it is to soon find out that the opulent old furniture visible through the entrance, is only just at that very entrance. In this huge old ballroom with its magnificent ceilings and chandeliers, the cafeteria style chairs and tables with stainless steel legs do no favours to the ambience. I spot one floral centerpiece, which do just that; mark the center of the room. The otherwise effectful minimalist Aussie style does nothing but lower the standard of such a grand place. A shame, for the food does the opposite.
As I can’t help but to compare a British originated tradition such as high tea to its English counterpart, I can’t help but notice a few drawbacks. The service level is not by far what you’d expect at a place like Fortnum, yet the prices are quite comparable. Nothing particularly wrong with the service, it is adequate. But just that. For example are you expected to pour your own tea. They are however attentive to dietary needs, and know the basics of GF.
The teacups are a cute plus. Fine English bone china, and a quite familiar and colourful pattern. No silverware though, only plain stainless steel which matches the furniture and once again draws associations to dining in a rather ordinary café.
The food is served promptly and beautifully. Abundant GF options, no skimping, wonderfully laid out and just as good as the gluten counterpart.
One hot scone served with clotted cream and raspberry preserve. The scone (which to me is the cherry on top for high tea) did have a slightly dry crust and tasted a bit too “eggy” for a scone.. But with cream and jam it went down a treat, and really wasn’t all too bad.
The sweets were varied and cute. Small, bite sized treats that all kept their promises. The macaroon wasn’t great. Awfully sugary and a bit soggy, but all in all they nailed the sweet treats in my opinion.
Two little sandwiches for me, ham and tuna. Both lovely on soft, fresh GF bread.
A little extra came in the shape of two savory corn muffins with a dill sauce. Nice try, but they tasted as though they’d been reheated in the microwave. Hard crust and mushy middle. Not a win.
The tea was lovely. A broad selection well explained. The waitstaff was quick to refill the hot water, no complaints.
The biggest plus for the QVB Tea Rooms would be their food handling. Although their menu carefully states that wheat is used on the premises, they do keep a separate part of the kitchen for GF preparation, and many of their desserts are outsourced. All in all I did not get sick, and that speaks volumes.
We had a lovely morning at The Tea Room, and the most important part, the food, was great.