High tea at Stamford Plaza Melbourne

A couple of months ago, a good friend of mine celebrated her birthday so we decided to get dressed up, play ladies for the afternoon & have a very civilised high tea at Melbourne's Stamford Plaza in Little Collins Street (click here for the Stamford Plaza website & to find out more about their high teas).  

We arrived at Stamford Plaza & to our disappointment & confusion, instead of being lead into a designated area where we could see a large table of women enjoying a high tea - the maitre d' lead us into the bar where there was one lone white table set up for our high tea.  Imagine if you will, a bar with AFL (Australian football) on the TV & other hotel guests sitting around enjoying a drink or reading the paper.  It was definitely a case of 'one of these things just doesn't belong here'!  And that 'thing' was my friend & I sitting at a high tea table, dressed to impress in a bar with casually dressed, football watching, newspaper reading people!  Talk about feeling uncomfortable.  When we asked why we were being seated in the bar, we were told it was due to the time of our booking being close to the time in which they stopped serving high teas.  I'm still trying to work out the logic behind that one...   

Anyway, we had barely sat down when we decided that as soon as the maitre d' came back, we would ask to be moved out of the bar.  It was all so wrong & certainly not a good start to what was meant to be a lovely birthday high tea!  The maitre d' came back within five minutes & before we could ask to be moved she quickly told us that she would make arrangements for a table to be set up for us in the area where we had seen the other women having high tea.  She acknowledged that the bar area wasn't the most suitable place for us to be seated & apologised.  

So a few minutes later, the maitre d' came back & led us through to the high tea area, which turned out to be a large foyer behind the stairwell & elevator where they normally serve breakfast (I know this because the main serving table with the breakfast equipment was there ready for the next morning).  I noticed a room with tables off to the right by the windows out to the street which looked like a lovely area & one which would have been much more suited to high teas, so it was a shame that they chose to seat us in the foyer area instead.  Perhaps it was because they didn't have enough bookings to warrant using the other room.  It was a shame though, because the foyer lacked the atmosphere & surrounding that you would expect for a high tea.

Our table was dressed with a white tablecloth & some pretty china plates.  Once we were seated, our waitress came over & asked if we would like some champagne - which of course we did!  She soon brought out two glasses of Moet & Chandon along with a tiered cake stand of sandwiches, scones, apple turnovers & a top tier of sweets.  

The sandwich flavours were smoked salmon & cream cheese, cucumber & lemon mayonnaise and chicken & aoli.  Being a vegetarian (which my friend advised them of in advance) I was also given a separate plate of sandwiches which had a filling of roast vegetables, tomato, lettuce & aoli.  All of the sandwiches were a good size - none of this teeny tiny finger sandwich size & the bread was soft & fresh.  Overall the sandwiches were a tasty intro to our high tea! 

We were then asked if we would like some tea or coffee.  We both opted for tea & soon after we were served a plunger of tea each.  

Next in the tier came the scones.  Now, I get that the size of scone needs to be on the delicate, dainty side - but I have to say, some of them were far too small.  They also varied in size between about right, tiny & then teeny tiny... here's a picture of a couple of scones next to my teaspoon for scale...

Size aside though, the scones were delicious - one plain and one orange & date, which were served with jam & cream. The apple turnovers were nice as well - they made for a surprise addition to a tier which is normally reserved for scones alone.

Finally, we had the top tier of sweets.  Chocolate coated 'tuxedo' strawberries, caramel macarons, little mango cheesecakes & mini raspberry gateaux. The cheesecakes & raspberry gateaux were quite a generous size (the scones could learn a thing or two from them!).  

Overall, although our high tea was pleasant enough I wasn't blown away by it & unfortunately it got off on the wrong foot with being seated in the bar at first.  The Stamford Plaza high tea is meant to have a modern twist with it which is great but I think it could have done with a bit more formality.  The space around you is so important for any dining experience & I think it really let our high tea down on this occasion.  It lacked that special, elegant atmosphere that really makes for a memorable high tea.  The price for a high tea at Stamford Plaza is $59 per person with a glass of bubbles or $49 per person without.  Click here to be taken to Stamford Plaza's website to find out more.  


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