Published on January 18th, 2010 | by Gareth0
The Victoria Rooms
Last week before heading off to the frozen wastes that Britain has become my brother-in-law treats us to high tea at the Victoria Rooms. Set upstairs in what appears to be a converted warehouse the décor heralds back to the days of the British Empire in India when ladies of high society enjoyed a spot of ‘Tiffin’. Soft lighting, parlour palms, chesterfields and ornately framed paintings adorn the room. Although the venue is quite large each table is given privacy with bamboo beaded partition curtains, booth’s and quiet corners. Wearing my favourite Panama I immediately feel part of the picture. The only thing missing is a grand piano and player.
We are quietly shown to our table. I soon realise that the brother in-law and myself have just doubled the male headcount. The majority of the customers are 25-35 year old ‘spiffingly’ dressed females celebrating hens parties. They do so in a more sophisticated reserved fashion than I am used to seeing in various bars at the weekend – thankfully there is not a single pink tutu or pair of devil horns in sight.
Once seated our waiter and master of all things tea arrives to discuss how things work and promptly take our tea orders. It is a set price for your choice of tea and a selection of sandwiches and cakes. I opt for a strong dark Assam tea and the ladies side with more subtle aromatic teas such as Queen Mary and Prince of Wales.
Now when it comes to practising good tea etiquette I like to try and be a little more delicate and sophisticated than usual, after all I did arrive in a Panama old chap. The trouble is I am a clumsy, left footed oaf at the best of times. When it comes to stirring the tea you are only meant to lightly ‘swish the tea without the spoon touching the side of the cup. I however can’t but help feel like I am trying to stir a gold fish bowl with a shovel and end up making more racket than a convention of tone deaf bellringers.
The sandwiches are naturally without crusts, cut into perfectly equilateral triangles made with the softest and lightest of bread. The filings unsurprisingly don’t include bacon and egg or cheese and pickle but rather smoked salmon, lightly distressed water cress and walnut with goats cheese. Very tasty indeed but the best is yet to come.
The cakes and scones are artistically arranged on a silver serving tower. These don’t just look pretty, they taste caketastic. The mini chocolate cups filled with milk chocolate mouse and topped with a fresh raspberry are a hit with the ladies in the group but the mini cheese cake and scones win my palate over.
Although high tea at the Victoria Rooms is more targeted towards the feminie kind I enjoyed the venue and the ceremony, though perhaps I will remember to have lunch before I go next time as the cheesecake left me wanting seconds and perhaps thirds. This is a fantastic treat that will definitely win the approval of any wife, girlfriend, mum, mother-in-law or grandma.
The Victoria Rooms, Level 1, 235 Victoria St Darlinghurst, Sydney, 9357 4488