One morning I was talking to Jill Jones-Evans, owner of the Victoria Room about scones-as you do when you're a little bit obsessed with food. Mid conversation she casually mentioned how they had a 10 scone long scone menu at their new tea salon in the Westfields. Conversation screeched to a halt, I think I even heard the tyres screeching in the background and people may have looked around in alarm. I spluttered "A menu with ten scones to choose from??? And you have a new tea room? Why have I not heard of this?" thinking that perhaps my sources at the afternoon tea association would have told me (ok there is no association but I thought I might have heard about it somewhere!) .
The tea salon sits nestled like a porcelain cup amongst tissue paper on the fourth floor "designer's gallery" in the new Westfields complex. Unlike the dark, exotic and sensuous vibe of the Victoria Room in Darlinghurst, this one is bright and pink like the much younger sister. There are curved white picket fences around the outside, pink velvet covered seats, grass green velvet banquettes and exquisitely pretty china. It's a candy pop girly dream which is a good thing because my friend Christie has brought along her appropriately attired baby girl Poppy and she loves pink.
Service is very helpful and friendly and when Christie needs a high chair for Poppy the resourceful waitress gets one from another store. The menu features a range of afternoon tea goodies with the three tier stands in standard, sparkling or couture, the latter features a glass of Moet. The noise level is higher than that of a closed off establishment but it isn't as loud as the food court above it (which truthfully drives me a bit crazy with the noise level).
Poppy thinks everything is an iPad :)
There are snacks as well as more substantial meals like terrine, ribbon sandwiches, salads, larger cakes by the slice, ice cream sundaes and the all important list of ten scones baked fresh daily. The scone list is as follows: classic (also comes gluten free); date & orange; spiced cinnamon & raisin; lemon; pistachio & currant; white chocolate & cranberry; dark chocolate chip; lavender; rose; cheddar & thyme and pumpkin & ginger. Scones can also be bought individually and served with butter and conserves or chive butter for the savoury ones. You can also choose the scone that you want to go with your high tea.
Our champagne (part of the couture high tea) comes out first and it's a generously poured glass of Moet and Chandon. Just the thing to take the edge off a frantic day's shopping. Or in my case, rushing to and from work meetings! And because I was doing so much running around using taxis and public transport, I brought my new camera-the Pentax Q to test out. It's a tiny camera that I carry in my bag at all times in case of dining emergency or when I can't be bothered taking my massive DSLR with me like today and it was a Christmas gift from my amazing Sigma distributor sponsor-thank you! It is the smallest, lightest camera with interchangeable lenses, image sensor, high ISO (6400max), flash, video and is small weighing in at a tiny 334grams with the case. And I absolutely love it! I cannot wait to take it travelling with me.
Couture high tea for one $58
Back to the food which has just arrived. The couture high tea has three layers, all with cleverly mismatched plates on their tiers (and from taking quick look at the other tables, the tiers are all different). We start on the sandwiches at the bottom which are downy and fresh. We sigh and say to each other that there truly is a place in the world for white sandwich bread and that is with ribbon sandwiches. There are four fillings: chicken, lemon and wild herbs; smoked salmon, rocket, lemon and caper; cucumber, creme fraiche and dill and roast beef, horseradish cream and baby cress which had a nice pepperiness to it. It's hard to choose a favourite but I think it might be the chicken one.
We head up to the top tier where we try our rose scone-served warm (but it has gone a bit cold with us entertaining Poppy or the other way around really ;) ). The rose flavour is represented with several edible red rose petals and Turkish delight, baked and melted on top of the scone. And pairing it with the thickened clotted cream and thick strawberry jam is a great match as rose and strawberry go so well together. Chef Joe Gambacorta tells us that they're intending to match jams with the scones soon too!
Our final tier has four sweeties: I start with what looks to be the lightest: a finely diced fruit salad tart with a crispy shortcrust pastry shell and a thick, smooth vanilla and lemon custard which is my favourite (oh I do love crispy tart shells and creamy custard!). Next is a pistachio cheesecake which is light and moist and there is also a vanilla cupcake with a zingy, fragrant passionfruit icing. Lastly, there is a dark chocolate cup with a chocolate shell, mousse filling and a fresh raspberry inside.
Earl Grey Premium
"Would you like some sugar?" Poppy asks.
Cheddar and thyme scone filled with smoked Atlantic salmon, crème fraîche and dill $14.50
Both Christie and I are fiends for smoked salmon so we thought that this would be a good item to indulge in some as well as try one of the scones as we were curious about the savoury scones. The portion of smoked salmon is generous and it is topped with rocket and dill crème fraîche. The scone underneath is is moist and dense and with that unmistakeable cheddar flavour to stand up to the smoked salmon.
Knickerbocker Glory $12.95
By now the garden area is very full as it is lunchtime and people come in with shopping bags or in groups looking for a respite for weary sale demented feet and minds. We're not done just yet although truth be told our eyes are bigger than our stomachs and all of this designer fashion makes one rather careful not to enjoy ourselves too much ;) But the Knickerbocker glory is a tall, impressive looking specimen and Poppy stares at it wide mouthed.
There are scoops of hand made ice cream-vanilla and real strawberry, almond praline, strawberries, meringue, berry coulis and a final drenching with hot chocolate sauce. The meringue is still crunchy and gives the soft ice cream and strawberries a nice contrast and turns it almost Eton Mess-ish. But defeated we just couldn't finish it no matter how hard we tried as it is really huge. And we tried! Must bring emergency stomach....
Poppy goes shopping...
We stop by the little retail area a little further down the walkway and see the various Kate and William tea cups, saucers and plates. I also spy these gorgeous tea cosys-made by the mother of Jill's husband Ashley. Aren't they cute?
So tell me Dear Reader, which tea do you order when you have afternoon tea? And do you find that you are full after afternoon tea?
NQN and Christie dined as guests of the Victoria Room
The Victoria Room Tea Salon
Designers Gallery, Level 4
Westfield Shopping Centre
Cnr Pitt Street Mall and Market Street Sydney, 2000
Monday Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 9.30am 6.30pm
Thursday 9.30am 9.00pm
Sunday 10.00am 6.00pm
Tel: +61 (02) 9357 4488