It's the last week of Vivid, Sydney's drawcard light festival. If you want to combine a spot of food with a trip in to see Vivid, Crown's TWR cocktail bar has a Vivid themed high tea. We start off at TWR and then try cocktails at the Tea House and Hickory Bar before heading out to see Vivid!
I must apologise for this late entry for the Vivid festival dining option Dear Reader. I was actually supposed to go to this the week before but I was sick so it had to be postponed by a few days but better late than never. It's 4pm on a Friday when I meet Laura at TWR (The Waiting Room) Crown Hotel's ground floor cocktail bar. There's nothing we love more than a nice segueway into a long weekend and afternoon tea is the perfect meal to do it. The TWR high tea is available from Fridays to Sundays from 2-5pm with a special selection of treats designed around the VIVID festival. It does not need to be pre-booked and you can choose from three types: $105 Per Person with a Glass of Piper-Heidsieck ‘Essentiel’ Brut Champagne, $95 Per Person with a Glass of Bunnamagoo Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Wine or $85 Per Person with Choice of Tea or Coffee. We are having the champagne high tea.
We ask if we can start with tea and they show us the tea selection from TWG tea and they are all tea bags, not loose leaf teas. I choose the Midnight Hour, a decaffeinated black tea which is subtly fruity with tropical fruit that I really enjoy. Laura has the Grand Wedding Black with notes of peach and fruit. Our three tier tower arrives and when we ask for our champagne and enquire about the desserts this causes a bit of confusion. The staff while friendly are a tad confused.
We start on the savoury layers which come out on the top and bottom layer of the three tier stand while the scones come out later. We start with the hot toasted Swiss cheese, pastrami and sauerkraut sandwich which is a small one bite sandwich that is absolutely delicious. It is a buttery, toasted sandwich with a slice of pastrami and melted swiss cheese and just the right amount of sauerkraut.
The prawn roll is also delicious with a soft, puffy milk bun filled with prawns and dressing inside. There are two traditional finger style sandwiches: a chicken, herb and lemon finger sandwich and a curried egg and watercress. Both fillings are nice although the bread is a little firm as it seems that they've gone with a sourdough bread instead of the usual soft white bread.
When then try the other savoury bites and if you like savouries in your afternoon tea you'll be happy to know that there are more savouries on this stand than sweet. The quail scotch egg half comes on a smooth chutney and is very tasty. There is also a round of duck rilette and nam jim on a round tostada that is also good and there's also a quinoa cracker with dabs of spiced butternut pumpkin. The only item I didn't really go for was the corn custard and kombu tart as it was surprisingly sweet even with the kombu.
Sweets wise, there are four items, all in petit four sizes. There's a verbena mousse with coconut dacquoise and charred pineapple which we both like. There is also a green tea and pistachio joconde although I couldn't really see the joconde in this. There is a tonka mousse with mandarin gel dubbed a "fruitcake". I think if people were looking for a version of a traditional fruitcake (which we were expecting) they'd be confused as were the numerous staff that came over to try and explain the dessert tier to us. There is also a lavender mousse, blackberry compote and steamed berry sponge. They're all coated in glacage or mirror glaze and while they're nice, a bit more variety in texture or look would have been nice.
Make sure not to leave without the scones as they do require flagging down a staff member as they seemed to forget about ours. These sconesare very, very good. They come out hot, not just warm but hot which is very welcome in this wintry weather and there is a a plain scone and a blueberry one. They are served with strawberry jam and a quennelle of clotted cream. The plain ones are wonderful scones and while the blueberry are nice for a change, nothing beats the plain scone as it doesn't get the same uniform rise as it is laden down with fruit.
If you're looking for some Vivid themed cocktails and snacks there is also the Tea House upstairs. Perch in one of the gorgeous "bird cages" and order from a list of five Vivid themed cocktails. The Emerald Opera is designed to resemble the Opera House with the predominant flavour of Frangelico. My favourite was the Lavender Galaxy with butterfly pea syrup, lavender gin, lemon juice and tonic water. While it sounds like it might be too floral it isn't at all and once you mix in the butterfly pea syrup into the lemon base it changes colour. And the Illuminous World is one to save for Instagram with tequila, saint germain, elderflower syrup , lime and gold flakes and a bubble on top that they place atop the cocktail at the table.
Pair it with some of the tasty (albeit quite pricey) snacks-tip the lobster har gow dumplings are fantastic as are the hibachi grilled sticky rice stuffed squid serves as slices. White Rabbit candy fans will love the white rabbit dessert which is creamy white chocolate mousse with a cassis cremeux and blueberry compote filling in the centre.
Or head back downstairs to Hickory Bar at Wood Cut where there are two Vivid themed cocktails on offer. There's a Purple Rain with blueberry infused gin, elderflower, lychee and lemon. My favourite is the Lighthouse with house limoncello prosecco and Peychaud's bitter.
And if you want to finish off your Vivid experience with a bang try one of their griddle cakes - the caviar one has N25 caviar on as crumpet-like tiny griddle cake and a delightful lemon cream for $35 per mouthful which is a costly, brief but delicious exercise. There's also the Yarra Valley salmon roe griddle cake with fennel pollen, also tasty but the lemon cream really tips the bite over the edge. And then head out to the night to enjoy Vivid 2022!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you try and make it to Vivid every year? Have you been this year?
NQN was a guest of Crown but all opinions remain her own.
Crown Sydney, Level 1/1 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo NSW 2000
8am-10pm 7 days (open til midnight Friday and Saturday)
Afternoon tea is only available from Friday to Sunday 2-5pm
Crown Sydney, Level 3/1 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo NSW 2000
Tuesday Closed Wednesday Closed
International Tower, Level 1/1 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo NSW 2000
Monday & Tuesday 5:30pm-12am
Wednesday to Sunday 12pm-12am