Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Byrneleigh Hotel, Nedlands, Western Australia

"A great way to spend a Saturday afternoon"

The high tea inspectors arrived promptly for the 12 noon to 2pm sitting of high tea at the Byrneleigh Hotel. Our session was well patronised- mainly women, however, I spotted two men!

Champagne was served on arrival a bit of a waste on our mainly tee-totaller group. There was an excellent selection of teas, with the pure green, earl grey and darjeeling being selected.

Platters of lovely scones were served with the teas and coffees along with raspberry chilli jam and cream. These were definitely the highlight, very tasty indeed.

After most of the scones were finished, two three tiered stands arrived laden with mini open sandwiches topped with a selection of beef, chicken, smoked salmon and camembert along with savoury tarts, carrot cake and chocolate brownies.

The food was plentiful and we all had more than enough. We had a most enjoyable few hours and thought it was excellent value as we had 2 for 1 vouchers. Booyah!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sweet Country Abode, Midvale, Western Australia

Come and enjoy!

The High Tea Inspectors have tried many places offering high, morning and afternoon tea. As we only write positive reviews quite a few don't make our blog. However, High Tea at Sweet Country Abode in the industrial area of Midvale is quite outstanding.

A booking in advance is required with a minimum of two people.

On arriving I was hesitant as to what to expect but waiting for us inside was our beautifully laid table, gorgeous china, table cloth and cloth napkins, tasteful cutlery and flowers.

Extra large teapots were served, our choice was the lovely English Breakfast tea. Then the three tiers of mini sandwiches, warm savouries, petite slices, cakes and warm scones with plenty of jam and cream.

Not very often do we find that we cannot finish all that is offered but on this occasion we were all most content.

Sweet Country Abode is tucked out of the way for most people but is worth the trip and outstanding value for money. I recommend you give this place a try. Mum gave it 12 out of 10, I say very well done.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Captain’s Desert Camp, Wadi Rum, Jordan

Delights in the Desert!

The gentle pleasures of afternoon tea are universal of course, but sometimes found in unexpected places, as discovered on a recent brief sojourn in Jordan.

On a 4WD trip from through Wadi Rum - country made famous in the West by Lawrence of Arabia’s revolt and used to represent the surface of Mars in the film ‘Red Planet’ - was the last place I expected to be treated to some of the best biscuits I have ever tasted – but these were to be the icing on the cake of an exceptional journey.

Some 68km from the port city of Aqaba, Wadi Rum is the largest ‘wadi’ in Jordan and home to Bedouin tribes who welcome adventure tourists and daytrippers to take a tiny glimpse into their nomadic way of life and witness the remarkable canyons and petroglyphs of their desert home.

We arrived at the Captain’s Desert Camp, which is essentially an open tent, and were invited to enjoy local homemade (& homegrown) specialities – including tea with a mixture of local spices, locally grown dates and sesame biscuits.

Perhaps it was the desert air or the general atmospherics of this remarkable place – but these were the best biscuits I have ever tasted and kept going back for more.

They certainly capped off an amazing day of high adventure and hospitality.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Ritz, London, England

Pure indulgence at the Ritz!

The High Tea inspector's most cherished wish was to experience afternoon tea at the Ritz London- and during the month of May this dream came true!

After reading Helen Simpson's book on High Tea at the Ritz I have been looking forward to this outing and I believe this could be the ultimate goal of all tea lovers.

High tea is offered at the Ritz London in the wonderful Palm Court. The Palm Court is quite magnificent- the decor is elegant and delivers a relaxed ambience in which to sit and soak in the splendour and listen to the pianist tapping out the many requests from the very well dressed tea lovers.

Immaculately presented waiters showed us to our lovers' seat table and offered the quite extensive choice of teas or coffee available. My husband's choice was the Chun Lee and mine was the Jasmine. We both enjoyed our selections, however, I tried the Chun Lee and was happy I went with the Jasmine. The three tiered cake stand came out with the second tier plate empty- this had me a little puzzled. On the bottom plate was afternoon tea sandwiches, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise, cheddar on sundried tomato bread, ham, chicken and mayonnaise and cucumber. All were delightful, my favourite was the chicken and mayonnaise. Waiters with large platters of extra sandwiches went from table to table offering more sandwiches.

After the sandwiches the waiter removed the empty second plate and to my delight returned with warm freshly baked scones with home made strawberry jam and clotted cream. Oh my, they were very special indeed and I was quite determined to have my two scones whilst realising that there was still another tier to go. Around again went the waiters with extra warm scones for anyone who could possibly have room for more.

Tea pots were constantly refreshed and by this stage the high tea inspector was feeling like she was in paradise. Then for the third tier, afternoon tea pastries and fresh cream cakes. I must admit it was quite the struggle to do them justice, they were all beautifully presented and a taste sensation. My favourite being the fruit and custard basket, yum. Unable to finish our cake selection the waiter was more than happy to send a fresh plate to our room- now that is service!

To avoid disappointment you will need to book for your choice of either Traditional, Champagne or Celebration afternoon tea. I booked back in January and there was only two places available. Also there is a dress code requiring men to wear a jacket and tie also no jeans and trainers.

For a totally satisfying indulgence I recommend anyone who can, try the High Tea at the Ritz London. They do it so well.

The Sheraton on the Park – Sydney, Australia

High tea on the park

Sitting overlooking a green Hyde Park with autumn leaves falling, and the Archibald Fountain in the background, is a great setting for a High Tea. Sheraton on the Park in central Sydney has taken good advantage of their location to provide a delightful High Tea venue.

Saturday and Sunday are booked well in advance with a comprehensive and exciting smorgasbord of High Tea delights. Monday to Friday is more your traditional High Tea which we enjoyed on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. Service is efficient and friendly with no booking required for parties less than 5.

My partner decided on the hot chocolate as his choice of beverage, served piping hot in a chocolate bowl, mine was green tea, but the menu was extensive with all coffees and the various loose leaf tea selections. Champagne was an optional extra.

Our three layer stand was impressive with smoked salmon and prawn open sandwiches on a dark rye bread, dainty egg sandwiches, and rolled spinach and anchovy sandwiches on a light pita bread. The scones were both fruit and plain, lightly warmed and served with heaps of strawberry jam and King Island cream - yum! The top layer of our stand was filled with delicate and delicious treats such as mouth melting chocolate macaroons, mini chocolate eclairs, cheese cake slices and fruit/custard pastries.

At $40 each we thought it was a delightful treat which we both enjoyed.

My only complaint was the china - thick white cups, saucers and plates which didn't compliment the chef's creation of a fine High Tea.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Pump Room, Bath, England

Bath tea-time

On a sunny spring day, Bath is a jewel – flowers blooming, people lazing about in the sunshine and of course, fine afternoon tea for the taking.

When previously in Bath the High Tea Inspectors visited the famous Sally Lunn’s, however on this occasion some dear friends and fellow tealovers booked afternoon tea at the charming Pump Room – the tea rooms at the Roman Baths.

Being attached to one of the most visited attractions in England, the grand, neoclassical room with peeks of the Roman Baths below and twinkling live piano music, is incredibly popular with tourists, but we picked a good day for our mid-week visit in April and it was relatively quiet.

While it is possible to sample some of the real ‘Bath water’ for 50p per glass, from the looks on most punters’ faces, I think we did somewhat better with our classic afternoon tea, which was a traditional three tiers of fresh finger sandwiches, scones and little cakes.

The spread is traditional, fresh and reasonably priced –but it really is the atmosphere of the historic restaurant that has been a part of socialising in Bath for the better part of 200 years – that makes afternoon tea at the Pump Rooms such a treat.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Mandeville Hotel, Marylebone, London

“Tea-time with a twist”

London spoils the afternoon tea lover with so many options that it is hard to know where to start. On a short trip it is even more difficult – should we go traditional and search out the best scones and finger sandwiches at a posh old-school hotel? Or something more cutting edge?

At the Mandeville Hotel, amid the stylish shopping hub of Marylebone, we found all the traditions that we love about afternoon tea, with some delightful twists.

The Hotel itself is definitely in the luxe category, and I could quite happily set up home there. Alas we merely partook of the afternoon tea, served in the deVille Restaurant which is an elegant blend of cosy banquettes and plush fabrics set off by funky art and lots of flowers – the perfect tea-time setting.

Depending on your mood you can choose from a range of menus – both for food and tea. If you are feeling girly – the Fashion Ladies Afternoon Tea is served on fine pink china with a selection of scones, pink meringues and sandwiches.

Purporting to be a more masculine affair – the Men’s Afternoon Tea is no less dainty, but served – naturally – on blue china, with the option of fine whiskies as an accompaniment to the very tempting treats on offer from the kitchen. We chose this more interesting sounding menu – and it turned out to be an indulgent, modern take on the traditional afternoon tea.

Highlights on the savoury side included roasted sirloin with red onion thyme jam on a mini foccacia, beef and chicken satay with chilli créme-fraiche, and potted shrimps with gentlemen’s relish and toast.

The sweets were equally thoughtful and tasty creations, including – a double chocolate brownie, lemon-basil tart, chocolate-blueberry cheese cake, fig chocolate beignet, and freshly baked raisin scones with Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Quibbles with gender specificity cast neatly to one side, the Men’s menu was certainly working a charm for most of the couples we spotted around the room, though a few pink meringues were also doing the rounds.

The selection of tea for both menus is first class, and can be served with champagne if you wish, but for me, a perfectly brewed White Peony with Whole Rosebuds blend was the ultimate counter to the rich spread.

My cup was also rarely half full thanks to the delightful, warm service of our waitress who returned with our individual pots for refreshers regularly and looked after us exceptionally well.

Starting at 26.50 GBP, afternoon tea at the Mandeville is good value for such a quality experience.

London has so many wonderful places for afternoon tea – but if you are looking for something a little different and a little special, the Mandeville is definitely worth a twirl.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chapels on Whatley, Maylands, Western Australia

Have a browse then try the cafe!

Chapels on Whatley has been operating for quite some time now and recently started the cafe side of their business. The high tea inspector after having her locks snipped at Esteban's headed with haste to try a cup of green tea in the new cafe.

The menu looked inviting, enough for me to plan a breakfast in the not too distant future, however today it was New Norcia fruit toast and a pot of needle snail green tea. I made a good choice as the fruit toast was excellent and the tea just got better and better.

Bookings are being taken for a special Mothers Day breakfast and afternoon tea that looks like it could be a bit of fun. We are always on the lookout for an enjoyable afternoon/high tea.

This is a great place in which to indulge and relax, I am looking forward to a return visit and trying high tea. Watch this space.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Middle Eastern - Moroccan Afternoon Tea, Yokine, Western Australia

For something a little bit different - try this at home!

This was a private function held by one of the high tea inspectors and indeed it was an outstanding success. Living in the world's most isolated capital city finding a decent afternoon / high tea venue that is worth a review can be a bit of a challenge so one of our talented reviewers organised afternoon tea with a middle eastern theme.

The food was beautifully prepared and served in a lovely outdoor setting. The teas offered were rose (from T2) and mint green (from the garden), along with a icy home made ginger and lemon drink.

For starters, hommus with coriander and muhammara (roast capsicum and walnut) dips and crackers, lady finger grapes and dates stuffed with lemon cream cheese (yum). Find the recipe for this on the recipe page.

Next was the lamb cigars with mint and coriander yoghurt, this was a taste sensation.

M'hanncha (chocolate and almond coil) with cream, baklava and date biscuits were the perfect sweet finish.

Our host, a very good cook catered perfectly and the afternoon was an absolute delight. I am looking forward to our next theme afternoon tea. Do try this, its a lot of fun.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Liberté at the London Hotel, Albany, Western Australia

"High Tea and champagne in Albany - Lovely!"

The High Tea Inspectors left stifling hot Perth and headed to a fresh and invigorating Albany for the booked out event (held every three months), Liberté High Tea.

We were shown into a most elegant room with outstanding table settings (refer photo below). The staff that attended to us were all very pleasant and accommodating, with several high maintenance attendees from amongst my group- ha! A three tiered stand of afternoon tea delights along with a glass of champagne awaited the high tea lovers, with lots of people looking quite splendid for the event which is always a nice touch.

The champagne was flowing freely along with tea and coffee all complemented by the sandwiches and cakes offered. I particularly enjoyed the macaroons, quite delicious.
The string quartet playing background music was enjoyable and contributed to a very fine afternoon.

This event is well organised and a credit to the staff. The Liberté high tea is offered about four times a year. So if your planning a trip to Albany maybe phone ahead and check out when they are holding the next high tea at the Liberté. You could be lucky. We all agreed it was a most enjoyable way to spend Sunday afternoon in Albany.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tea Lounge, The Hyatt, Canberra

Canberra – Leading the nation in High Tea

When you tell folks that you are going to Canberra – Heart of the Nation – the response will generally be enquiring whether it’s for work or to see friends and family, since obviously it could be for no other rational purpose. But... as you enter the foyer of the gloriously green and sprawling five-star art deco Hyatt Hotel Canberra, and catch a glimpse of the tea lounge, with its buffet table positively laden with gleaming jewels of petit-fours, an abundance of scones, macaroons, hot filo parcels, quiches, sandwiches, cookies and tiny glasses of white and dark chocolate pannacotta - your heart gives a little flutter of afternoon tea delight. Yes, you think to yourself, I Have Arrived!

From 2:30 to 5:00pm every day, the impressive array of old favourites and new twists bedecks the centre of the tea lounge. I would recommend booking ahead (I booked on the day and got the very last table) and getting a table indoors so you can have not only the benefit of easy buffet table access, but also the sounds of the grand piano playing just the right jazzy tunes for the occasion.

At $45 per person, it may give some pause, however, I like to justify these things by not having lunch or dinner and then amortising the cost over these two meals and then you have a bargain. Indeed, you really need to have a good initial appetite and pace yourself well in order to get to have a taste of all the things that take your fancy. I went with a very good friend, and even with having half a serve each of the things we tried, I doubt we would have got to even 60% of the total selection on offer. So make sure you do a full lap of the table and employ the appropriate strategy for an afternoon tea of this magnitude.

Good coffee and tea is included, as is a glass of sparkling wine. The tea cups and plates are nice with their art deco detail and I couldn’t fault the service. Based on the experience I had, this should be on the list of Canberra attractions right alongside the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, and Parliament House.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The George, Perth, Western Australia

"For a most pleasant relaxing afternoon, try "The George" for high tea!"

At The George you will find a modern chic setting for your high tea along with friendly staff who explain the three choices on offer (one with tea, one with sparkling wine, one with champagne). Our group decided on the non-alcoholic version served with a good selection of teas (that can be purchased from Tea for Me, London Court). My choice was a lovely jasmine dragon pearl green tea and it was very nice indeed.

First was a generous serving of home baked scones with homemade strawberry-raspberry-chilli jam and cream. We needed extra jam and cream which was attended to efficiently. A three tiered server was next with open sandwiches, warm tartlets and cakes.

The high tea was well patronised mainly by women enjoying their free time on a pleasant Sunday afternoon with friends, great food, tea and conversation. An improvement for me would be playing the music at a lower volume.

We all enjoyed ourselves and agreed we will return.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Ritz London Book of Afternoon Tea

"A delightful book by Helen Simpson."

This book, a christmas present is a little gem. I read it whilst partaking in my favourite beverage, green tea from my special pot and tea cup.

Helen Simpson tells us the story of "Tea at the Ritz", "The History of Tea Drinking" along with many recipes, teas and the variety of afternoon teas we can enjoy.

As yet I haven't had the time to try the recipes but I will definitely look at doing some of them.

I am so looking forward to one day having tea at the Ritz and a hearty high tea in Scotland. The High Tea Inspector will be coming soon.

This is a lovely, well written book by a lady who knows all about the world's favourite drink. Enjoy.