Please note that this business is now closed
There are some people that just fully appreciate Afternoon Tea and Elevenses. Mr NQN is not one of them. So when I knew that I was visiting Dolls At The Mount for afternoon tea, I knew that I had to take along fellow afternoon tea aficionado Nic. You know Nic don't you? She's my Melbourne friend who painstakingly played lighting assistant when we dined at Maze restaurant. She also happens to have a family of keen sponge cake bakers so I knew that she would completely understand it here.
It was a place I had heard of months and months ago and I filed it away in the rollerdex in my head, knowing that I would somehow make it there-one day. Dolls At the Mount is a doll museum and afternoon tea place that was said to serve fantastic scones and it was just the kind of place that I knew that I would adore. And when Tourism Victoria asked me where I would like to visit I immediately open up the mental rollerdex and told them "Dolls on the Mount please!".
It's a rainy Melbourne day when I jump into the taxi and take the 30 minute ride out to Heidelberg. It's drizzling lightly when we pull up in front of the cream colour cottage and a sign reads "doll repairs, afternoon tea". Nic has just arrived too and we ring the door and a smiling Vivienne opens the door. "Welcome!" she says smiling and we make our way past the dolls in the front foyer to the warm and cosy dining room. We are to indulge in the special afternoon tea. I order an Earl Grey and Nic orders an English breakfast tea.
While we are waiting, we wander around into the doll's room. Formerly Vivienne's bedroom, her mum still lives here in the house towards the back. The doll's room is a treasure trove and catalogue of dolls throughout the the ages. There are some absolute collector's items including their oldest doll which is from the 1930's. Vivienne's mum was a former doll maker and some of her creations are featured here too.
There is also a collection of Vivienne's Barbies as well as a stunning fashion doll. Several decades ago, before jet travel was invented and because there was limited space on the ships, fashion houses used to send dolls wearing a smaller version of a dress that they had designed for the upcoming season for buyers and seamstresses to copy. There is one of these dolls in the glass cabinet here.
Our table is set with jam and cream for the scones and Vivienne sets some floral teapots down with strainers and teacups. The loose leaf Earl Grey tea is sparklingly fragrant and she brings out a pot of hot water and places it on a side table.
The piece de resistance comes out. She brings out the two tier special afternoon tea (at $22.90 a person) and it is abundant with goodies. On the top there are freshly made pinwheel sandwiches. They are decorated with snow pea shoots and fresh flowers and come in a variety of fillings with both white and wholemeal bread.
Special Tea for two ($22.90 per person)
Vivienne tells us that the etiquette for pinwheel sandwiches is to "eat them like sushi" so we take her cue and select one. There's smoked salmon and cream cheese, chicken and cranberry, tuna, roast beef and tomato, egg salad and ham, tomato and cheese. I try the smoked salmon, ham, tomato and cheese and the tuna sandwiches and they're superbly fresh and soft and delicious.
"Oooh scones!" I say and I help myself to a warm scone and slather it with berry jam and whipped cream (alas clotted cream eludes me again). The icing sugar dusted scone is feather light and soft-an excellent scone indeed.
Now onto the sweet portion. Either restraint or greed is necessary to approach this alluringly colour tier. I choose the latter of course and start with the ginger fluff, a ginger flavoured sponge roll with fresh cream and raspberry jam which is soft and moreish. I then try the passionfruit sponge which is incredibly light and spongy. No wonder that the sponge recipe is famous and has been reprinted in newspapers. I next pinch the mini apple pie with an adorable little apple cut out in pastry at the top. The pastry is nice and crumbly with soft apple inside. My next to conquer? The lemon meringue tart which has a crispy short base and a lovely tangy lemon curd made by using fresh lemon juice and a soft, marshmallowy meringue topping. Last but not least is the vanilla cupcake with the sparkly lilac frosting which is fresh and just the right size-one bite if you're feeling hungry or two if you're being a lady.
"You must take a look at the bathroom while you are here" Vivienne says and I make a visit to the bathroom. Drawn on a wall is a list of "good names for Princesses" and at the bottom Vivivenne has added "Not Nigella"! Aww how lovely! As someone who watched Romper Room and forever wished that Miss Helena would read out her name but never did, this is even better (and it's permanent!).
Haha I almost missed it at first! :)
She tells us that Dolls At the Mount started by accident. Vivienne was taught how to cook from her Nanna and made fabulous things like kites made from brown paper, gingerbread houses and pancakes. Saturday was baking day where she would make cornish pasties and sponge cake in a wood stove that also warmed her clothes in Winter. She, her mother and brother lived elsewhere and held doll workshops for keen students. Within a short space of time they had had three burglaries all commited while they were out at work doing the workshops.
They decided to buy this cottage where they would hold workshops at home in an effort to get around these burglariess. At the end of the doll workshops students asked if there was a place where they could find a good cup of tea. She and her mum thought about it and decided that selling cups of tea would help with paying off the mortgage. The first food that they served was scones and they were a hit. Not only would students visit but the general public would and soon after they asked "So what's for lunch?" and the business expanded from there and 15 years later it is now Elevenses and Afternoon tea!
Nic and I stay and chat for hours over our pots of tea. I wish I was 7 years old again and about to plan my birthday party.
So tell me Dear Reader, what was your favourite toy growing up?
NQN and Nic dined at Dolls At the Mount as guests of Dolls at the Mount.
Dolls At The Mount
54 Mount Street, Heidelberg, Victoria
Tel: + 61 (03) 9457 3356
Open 6 days a week (closed Mondays)
Please note that this business is now closed