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Outright I give our afternoon tea at the Hotel Windsor in Melbourne a 9.5/10. Why not a 10? Well because nothing is perfect AND once again I was baffled to come face to face with yet another chocolate fountain...
Built in 1883, the Hotel Windsor ticks all the boxes for a traditional afternoon tea venue. It is a gorgeous example of Victorian architecture & is overflowing with character. Its located in a lovely part of Melbourne too, a stones throw from Parliament train station.
As soon as we stepped into the restaurant where they hold afternoon teas, I was so pleased to see that the tables were all set up nicely with white tablecloths, china & silverware. The next thing I noticed of course was the huge array of pastries & cakes. The selection was enormous.
We were shown to our table & quickly introduced to one of our friendly waiters. We were given a complimentary glass of bubbles & our waiter explained how the afternoon tea 'worked' so to speak. We would receive a selection of sandwiches, savouries & scones - after which we were welcome to help ourselves from the buffet of cakes & pastries.
When I made the booking, I specified that I was a pescatarian (vegetarian who eats fish!) & our waiter confirmed this with me. A few minutes later he brings out two separate tiered cake stands - one for me & one for my meat eating husband. I was very excited to have my own stand all to myself! But also I was really impressed that they didn't just bring me over a separate plate with a couple of meatless sandwiches & savouries.
We were offered tea or coffee, which the waiter poured for us. We opted for tea as it was the Hotel's own blend, designed specifically for their afternoon teas. Its a lovely English breakfast style tea. Throughout our sitting, our waiter ensured we were well topped up with fresh cups of tea. I'm always amazed at how many cups of tea I can put away when I go out for an afternoon tea. I never drink that much in one sitting at home!
Now, I'm going to comment on my meatless sandwiches given I ate them! My husband who is a meat eater, enjoyed his sandwiches as much as I did so I can safely vouch for them! I had a range of sandwiches in lovely soft bread with fillings consisting of mushroom, red pepper, tomato & rocket, salmon & cucumber. Each filling had a little something else in there as well like a pesto or cream cheese. There wasn't a dry boring sandwich in sight.
Next were the savouries which I was surprised & impressed to see. I've never seen a second tier of savoury food & it was really nice to have more of a balance between sweet & savoury. I had three savouries in total, two were little cheese & caramelised onion tarts & the third was a vegetable samosa.
Finally, the third & final tier was of course our scones. We each had one plain & one fruit scone. They were light & fluffy. We had little pots of jam & I'm very pleased to say, clotted cream!! The jams were really nice, home-made jams consisting of strawberry & then a very dark raspberry. I suspect the raspberry jam had something else in there like blackberries.
Now, by this stage we were completely full but that didn't stop us venturing over to the buffet for a few pastries! The size of the pre-cut pastries was just right. Quite dainty portions. There were loads to choose from as well as a selection of larger cakes that you cut from yourself. But again, there was a chocolate fountain! I just don't think it suits a formal afternoon tea setting. Seeing people skewer their strawberries & marshmallows & then giggle as they lose one or two somewhere within the flow of chocolate really looked out of place. I get that in the right setting, a chocolate fountain is a fun thing, especially for children, but I really don't think its necessary to have one in more formal settings.
Overall, the food was to an exceptionally high standard. Each pastry was divine & there were so many colours & different types to choose from. It all looked lovely.
Our waiter was friendly & professional. He looked after us really well ensuring we always had a full cup of tea, glass of water & that our plates were cleared quickly.
So the price...well it was $79 pp given it was a Saturday. During the week, the price is $59pp but there is no dessert buffet. I thought the price wasn't too bad given the quality, range & amount of food, not to mention the venue, service & table setting.
Reservations in advance are definitely advisable as the Hotel Windsor is deservedly a popular choice for afternoon teas. I highly recommend it.
Check out their website for more info http://www.thehotelwindsor.com.au/default-en.html