Afternoon tea at the Grand Hyatt, Melbourne

My husband & I went to the Melbourne Grand Hyatt on the weekend for an afternoon tea in their Collins Kitchen.  On their website they offer a "traditional Grand afternoon tea".  From Mon to Thurs their afternoon teas are served a la carte for $35pp and on the weekends for $52pp with an extended dessert buffet (for more info, click here to open the Melbourne Grand Hyatt Collins Kitchen webpage).  
As soon as we were shown to our table my first thought was that there was a lack of formal tableware.  I expected a white tablecloth, silverware & china (is that too much to ask?).  Call me fussy, but a formal table setting really sets the scene for a lovely afternoon tea.  There was no tablecloth & the china & cutlery looked like what they would typically use for lunch or breakfast.  They also had a little bowl with sachets of sugar which I think could have been replaced by a nice bowl of sugar cubes with tongs. 

Our waiter was really friendly & helpful.  I'm a pescatarian so he was careful to ask me what I did & didn't eat & he offered to bring extra salmon sandwiches or separate vegetarian sandwiches.  He explained to us that we would get a glass of bubbles to begin with & then a pot of tea or coffee.  He then came back with a tiered cake stand with six sandwiches on the bottom, & two slices on the top & said that we had our sandwiches for start & afterwards we were free to help ourselves from the buffet.  Shortly after he bought over a vegetarian sandwich for me on a separate plate.  It had eggplant inside - I wasn't a big fan of the sandwich but I appreciated the gesture. 

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. 

We had a lovely glass of bubbles but I was disappointed that our tea was made with tea bags.  I don't know about you, but I can have tea made with tea bags at home any day.  Having a freshly brewed pot of tea made with tea leaves is so much nicer & something we don't always have time to make for ourselves.  One of the things I've enjoyed most about the afternoon teas I've had in London was their selection of teas & the fact that their pots of tea were always made with tea leaves.

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).

After our scones, my husband fancied another sandwich so he asked the waiter if he would mind bringing us some more.  Sadly, the waiter said that once we had eaten our sandwiches, there were no more included in the afternoon tea & we had to help ourselves from what was available in the buffet.

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...


  1. Awesome blog Michelle!! Really great to hear how the Australians are doing their arvo teas :-)
    I would have been very disappointed with the lack of sandwiches and formality too.
    Sounds like you're having heaps of fun xoxox

    1. Thanks Sonn! I think London does afty teas so well, they've set the bar quite high! xx


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