Afternoon tea at the Grand Hyatt, Melbourne
Now, call me a complete snob (I really don't mind if you do) but the idea of a buffet for afternoon tea just doesn't sit well with me. I looked around at everyone grabbing a plate & helping themselves & it really just seemed too informal. I should say at this point that I'm not the biggest fan of buffets in general! Its a bit like feeding time at the zoo - but that's just my opinion.
Our sandwiches were varied - there were two beef & mustard sandwiches which my husband said were excellent. There were two salmon & cucumber which were quite nice & the bread was really soft & fresh. The third was egg & cress on rye bread which we didn't particularly like because the rye bread was quite dense & cakey.
Now, we all think of the tiered cake stand as being quite a feature in an afternoon tea. However, after our sandwiches were finished, it was then for us to head to the buffet, grab a plate & help ourselves. The teired cake stand on our table suddenly became unnecessary. The waiter eventually took it away altogether.
We helped ourselves to some scones with whipped cream & jam. At this point I will say that I think clotted cream is so much nicer than whipped cream for scones & jam. Whipped cream has a tendency to be quite sweet. Having said that, I'm not sure how popular (or available) clotted cream is in Australia. The scones were lovely & soft, straight from the oven. They were about the right size too. We had to help ourselves to jam & cream rather than have it already served in small pots (which I think would have been nicer).
Not only were there the usual sweet slices & pastries in the buffet, they also had croissants with ham & cheese as well as mini bagels & savoury wraps. I was surprised to see those as they looked a bit out of place - partly because usually you would only expect little savoury sandwiches & partly because the savoury wraps & croissants were a bit too big for a dainty afternoon tea.
Speaking of looking out of place, did I mention the chocolate fountain, waffles & selection of ice-creams?
There was a good selection of slices & pastries but in my opinion, the slices were a bit too big. We were only managing to eat about 1/4 of each slice between the two of us.
Overall, I can't argue with the fact that we certainly got value for money & good service. The quality of the food was very good as well. However, I felt that the it really lacked that element of formality & the traditional aspects that you would expect of a good afternoon tea - things like a selection of teas or at least pots of tea brewed with tea leaves, table cloths & formal tableware & of course a well stocked tiered cake stand. I'm going to go out on a limb here & also say that I think they could do away with the chocolate fountain as it did look a bit tacky...
Now, I wouldn't mind the buffet if there had to be one but I think it would have been better if we had been given a bit more on our cake stand before we had to venture over to the buffet. Perhaps it would have been better to have the scones & sandwiches on the stand & then leave it up to people to choose their pastries from the buffet. I also think offering extra sandwiches would have been nice if we had wanted them.
I'll end by saying that I'm not going to give any sort of rating for my reviews, like a score out of 10 or stars out of 5. My reviews are just my personal opinion & observations. I'll leave the rest up to you...