I think the appeal of afternoon tea is much the same as brunch. It’s an unnecessary meal. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are standard. Brunch and afternoon tea are both superfluous and therefore a real luxury. Of course what makes afternoon tea even more decadent is the dominance of cake as a major food group. Something that is luxurious, decadent and cake heavy is something I am a fan of. I’ve eaten my way through many of Melbourne’s afternoon teas and thought I would share some of my favourites:
Where a Girl Goes by Cristina Re
Cristina Re is a girly paradise. There’s lots of pink, lots of frills and lots of stationary (and what girl doesn’t love stationary!). Cristina Re’s Fitzroy store operates as a homewares and stationary shop and also as an afternoon tea venue. The signature high tea includes two hot beverages plus savoury and sweet treats for $49 ($59 on weekends). I was a guest of my friend Joyce who had been invited to review this afternoon tea.
To drink there were a dozen or so options from Cristina Re’s signature tea leaf range a Belgian hot chocolate, Belgian hot mocha, espresso coffee, chai latte or juice. The hot chocolate was perfectly thick, creamy and rich. The sandwich tier was freshly made but the fillings were fairly standard and the bread suffered from being a little squashed.
I preferred the other tiers – one filled with fluffy scones and the other with sweet treats. There were tiny vanilla cupcakes with pastel coloured frostings, some handmade Belgian chocolates and wee little macarons in a range of flavours.
Details: Signature High Tea, Where a Girl Goes by Cristina Re, Cnr Langridge & Oxford Sts, Collingwood +61 3 9495 6222
Damage: Pricey. $49.
State Library of Victoria
When you think of afternoon tea venues in town, the State Library is not the first place that comes to mind. But for a limited time you can have high tea in the opulent setting of the Library. Catering is by CNK Food Design and the high tea is held in the historic Cowen Gallery with its blood red walls and stern portraits looking down.
Although this is a library, talking is encouraged thanks to free flowing sparkling – the lovely Tahbilk Coueslant Chardonnay Pinot Noir – and communal tables. The three tiered afternoon tea stands included both savoury and sweets. Savoury was covered off with delicate cucumber and mayonnaise sandwiches which were super fresh and soft. There was also airy smoked salmon roulade made with a spinach crepe and filled with with creme fraiche and salmon roe.
The scones were unfortunately rock hard but the sweet option delivered with simple but delicious chocolate dipped strawberries and fabulous lemon meringue tarts. For high tea in a really unique setting this is the option to choose. However if you pay full price (we used a two for one offer in face book) the high cost is a deterrent.
Details: State Library High Tea, Cowen Gallery, State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston St, Melbourne +61 3 8664 7099The next dates for State Library High Tea are Saturday 12 October 2013, 2:00pm – 4:00pm and Saturday 9 November 2013, 2:00pm – 4:00pm.
Damage: Pricey. $80.00.
My favourite afternoon tea in Melbourne has to be at The Langham. The setting is swanky and the hotel actually has a proper loose leaf tea selection. Did I mention the chocolate fountain?
There’s the traditional tiered stand of savoury, scones and sweets all executed perfectly. On my visit, the stand included savoury levels of mini quiches sweet from their filling of caramalised onion and surrounded by crumbly, soft pastry along with freshly made cucumber and egg finger sandwiches. Most importantly the scones were a triumph, fresh from the oven with a choice of fruit scones or plain. They were served as they should be with clotted cream and sharp, good quality jam.
But best of all is the dessert buffet with an array of confections including perfectly formed tiny lemon tarts and warm chocolate pudding dripping with sauce. I’ve written a more detailed review here.
Details: Aria, The Langham Hotel, 1 Southbank Blvd, Southbank (Ph 1800 641 107)
Damage: Pricey. From $45.