Edible Review: Mount Nelson High Tea

April 1, 2007

I had a bit of a gourmet dilemma back in Cape Town: do I try new restaurants or go for old-time favourites. The classics won out and my first choice of eatery was Sinn Restaurant at Wembley Square.

This restaurant got a great review from me in September (read my blog entry about Sinn) so it wasn’t surprising that I wanted to go back.

Van, Karen and me at SinnI met Vanessa, Karen and Patrick there and we had an awesome dinner. The ostrich was even better than I remembered (the best substitute for ostrich in Aussie is kangaroo – yes, those cute, cuddly jumping creatures that are actually regarded as pests down under). The potato rosti was also yummy and company was fantastic.

The next day, after brunch with Ruth and Peter at Newport Deli (they make the most delicious mango smoothie but took forever to bring me my water), mom, Tam and I headed to the elegant Mount Nelson for high tea.

The Mount Nelson is the original high tea venue with a generous helping of colonial decadence. It’s all very plush with English floral furnishing, luxurious carpeting and the tinkle of piano in the background.

The high tea here is quite different to the one at Sofitel Wentworth in that the food is served buffet style rather than at your table.

The hightea at Mount NelsonTea is served at your table (yay, I could get rooibos) and the you help yourself to the very generous array of sweet and savoury goodies. We started off with some delicate sarmies, then went onto a cheese scone and mini spinach and cheese tartlets.

Then I tried a piece of carrot cake, a mini- lemon meringue and a bite of a chocolatey tart. The fruit salad was fizzy (ie off) but the waitress was soo apologetic about the whole thing that we even felt bad about pointing out the fermented fruit.

Mom, Tam and Me at Mount NelsonWe sat and chatted and sipped tea and thoroughly soaked up the ambience. We walked out very full and happy. What a larny treat.

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Edible Review: Lenotre High Tea at Sofitel Wentworth

March 25, 2007

Nothing can beat a girly high tea and Sydney is definitely on short of choices. We initially were going to indulge in this English tradition at the Victoria Rooms in Darlinghurst but then I remembered reading about this highly specialised French tea at the Sofitel Wentworth in Phillip Street in Sydney city.

So what’s so special about this afternoon tea? Well, the Chef Patissier, Mark Stone, has been trained in the exclusive art of Lenotre, which is a famous French Patisserie brand. This, gastronomic art (as it is so called), is available at very prestigious destinations all over the world but this is the first place that Lenotre has made its appearance in Sydney.

The girls at High TeaOrit, Monika, Simone and myself arrived at the hotel (which to me seemed a little dull as far as the luxury stakes go) and headed straight for the lounge. Then we were transported into another era with the relaxing piano music in the background and lovely sumptuous furnishings.

The waitress (who couldn’t speak English that well) struggled to tell us all the teas that were available – my suggestion is to print a list – it would make things easier for everyone. We ordered different teas and the gourmet pastries for 4.

The presentation was magnificent – almost too good to eat. The treats were displayed on a tier stand with about 5 different levels. On each level, sat a scrumptious looking edible item.

The High Tea TreatsOn the bottom, there were 3 sarmies, 2 mini-scones. Above that, a delish lemon tart, an opera slice (described as chocolate pastry with layers of almond biscuit, chocolate ganache with coffee butter cream and topped with gold leaf), two other decadent pastries with the top level holding a rich dark choccy cone filled with berries coulis and cream. While one or two of the slices looked better then they tasted, generally it was a fabulous taste sensation.

Our two complaints were that:
1) The service was somewhat slow and a request for water took hours and dramatic dying of thirst noises from me to actually materialise
2) If you order tea for one, you get a smaller tiered stand with 3 sarmies, 2 scones and everything except one pastry slice. However, if you order a shared tea, you get a larger stand with pretty much the same ingredients (ie 3 sarmies, 2 scones and this you have to share between two). Just didn’t make logical sense!

So the solution is to order you own individual tea. Admittedly we left on a Mount Everest Sugar High and couldn’t fit another morsel in but I guess it’s just the principle.

We’ve decided we’re going to try do this on a monthly basis so watch out for more high tea stories.