I watch the table of seven women opposite me. There are three generations having afternoon tea and the youngest, I'd gauge about six years old is busy with her phone. First she takes a photo of the colourful three tier stand in front of her. Then after a moment's consideration she flips the camera on the phone to herself and takes a selfie mugging at the camera in a six year old's version of a pout. She looks like a fashionista in the making.
Belinda and I were lured to the afternoon tea at the Sheraton on the Park with the fashion theme and the chance to wear our favourite dresses and heels. I'd had the afternoon tea at the Sheraton on the Park when it came in a different format where you could choose the courses you wanted. Now it's a choice of a set afternoon tea with your selection of tea, coffee or hot chocolate starting at $89 for two people (and for an extra $20 you can have it served on the 21st floor club lounge). There is also an afternoon tea buffet at $49 per person. The clientele seems evenly split between the two options.
Please forgive the photos. Whilst the lounge is comfortable, the lighting isn't great as it's all down lights and we are seated in the relatively dark back corner. For tea, there is a choice of La Maison du The teas or Penelope Sach herbal teas. I'm delighted to spot one of my favourite teas from my uni days, the Penelope Sach Berry tea so I order that while Belinda goes for the Petal tea. While the teas are great, we both thought that the teapot and tea cup presentation was a little ordinary especially for a fashion afternoon tea, particularly when gorgeous tea sets are used at other establishments.
Shortly after our stand arrives. Our friendly waitress explains all of the items and it seems the fashion part really only pertains to the top dessert layer which is perhaps a bit of a missed opportunity to do something really creative. We start with the sandwiches. There is a choice of four sandwiches. I start with a egg mayonnaise and cress sandwich on white bread and it is beautifully fresh and tasty. If there's one thing that can potentially ruin an afternoon tea it's crusted over bread. Okay that sounds melodramatic I realise ;).
Next I reach for the smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese on rye bread followed by the chicken, sweetcorn and dijon mustard on multigrain bread. Lastly there is a mini smoked ham, Swiss cheese and grain mustard filled mini croissant. The filling is nice although a warm croissant would have been a nice touch especially since the next layer is served warm.
We then go for the scone layer with the scones served warm with a clotted cream and a strawberry jam as well as two rounds of butter. There are two scone types, a plain and a fruited scone and it's hard to stop eating these but my dress is now starting to feel a bit tight! My career as a fashionista is over before it even began. There is also an asparagus, onion and cheese tart served warm with a crispy tart shell and a tasty filling.
A little break is needed given how enthusiastically we had eaten the first two plates (clearly restraint isn't a word that I exercise often ;) ). The fashion layer is suitably pretty, like a toned down effort from the famous fashion afternoon tea at The Berkeley, London. Our favourite sweet morsel is the lemon cupcake with a lemon curd filling and a smooth buttercream on top.
The hat is a cherry filled cube of dense sponge cake topped with a pink white chocolate hat filled with marzipan. The strawberry roll is unusual, like a mini Swiss roll at the base and an animal printed white chocolate bag on the outside. We notice that it is getting late as we've been so busy talking. We are so full that we take the gianduja filled chocolate heels home. I think I just wanted another moment or two to admire the shoes.
So tell me Dear Reader, how long do you usually linger over afternoon tea? And do you usually order tea, coffee or hot chocolate with afternoon tea? And which is your favourite fashion item from the top layer?
This meal was independently paid for
The Gallery Tea Lounge
Sheraton on the Park
Lobby Level, 161 Elizabeth St, Sydney NSW 2000
Tel +61 (02) 9286-6000
Afternoon tea served daily from 11:30am