A few years ago, I attended a dinner at Parliament House in Brisbane. We were served such delicacies as crab cocktails and salmon roulade. It was a little retro-kitch, but not in an intentionally ironic way. At the time, I didn’t mind at all, however. I felt that it was in keeping with the vibe of the grand old building that was lined with wood panelling and carpeted in plush maroon. Not all food needs to be deconstructed and innovative in order to be enjoyed. Sometimes, life just needs to be accepted for what it is.
It was in this vein that I recently enjoyed afternoon tea at Melbourne’s endangered Windsor Hotel. I was invited to a hen’s party. I must say, it was the PERFECT venue for a classy style hen’s, since there is something retro-kitch about hen’s parties too, in my opinion (or at least, there should be).
For $69 a head, we were give a private room for about 25 people, a glass of bubbles, all-you-can-drink tea and coffee, scones, pastries, cakes, fruit salad, crepes and access to a chocolate fountain. I’m stabbing myself (with strawberry and marshmallow skewers) for forgetting to photograph the chocolate fountain.
The staff were friendly but quite firm with rules. We were certainly not allowed to enter the room even minutes before the allocated 2.30pm and we were most definitely not allowed to steal pastries from the buffet in the main tea rooms. Fair enough!
The food was fine. As might be expected, it was not kicking down any barriers, but was suited to the occasion. The scones did not challenge the title for THE BEST THAT I HAVE EVER EATEN, but they did not greatly disappoint, either. And really, I defy anyone to resist items served on a three tiered silver stand.
We were served so many cakes and pastries that I did not get a chance to sample them all. I can say, however, that they were all presented beautifully. See below:
My favourite pastry was a little lemon tart – not pictured. I can’t go past a citrus dessert.
High tea at the Windsor is a lovely way to spend an afternoon – particularly on a special occasion. The price on weekdays is $20 less ($49). I do not think that the price is unreasonable considering the large amount of food that we were given. The tea rooms were full so, clearly, many others concur.
However, if you are looking for culinary boundary breaking, do not come here. There are numerous places in Melbourne where you can have a much more interesting afternoon tea – many of them right around the corner from the Windsor. But like I said, on many occasions, things are best accepted and enjoyed for what they are.
Catch it before they turn it into a 26-storey glass box!
Afternoon Tea at The Hotel Windsor
111 Spring Street
M-F: 2.30pm – 4.30pm, $49 per person
W/E: 12pm – 2.30pm or 2.30 – 4.30pm, $69 per person