high tea : terrace hotel
by Mei Leong
It’s been a long while since the last high tea post. There were a couple of lacklustre high teas not worth posting about but this one, this one’s been worth the wait. This is the one worth dressing up for, the high tea with both style and substance.
The Terrace Hotel arrived on the scene with a lot of pomp (including its roof being blown off in a gust of wind). Despite the hype about its boutique rooms and restored heritage features (the roof is now back on), what I really looked forward to was their high tea.
(And you can’t really call yourself a luxury hotel without doing a good high tea, no?)
It’s Christmas pressie exchange time! Jess opening her Chrissie present… a teacup and saucer! (What else!)
Inside, it’s what Perth would have, or should have looked like in the 1970’s. Leather chesterfields, nude paintings (there’s quite a few of them, all tasteful – I’ve attached one at the end of the post if you want a peek), chandeliers and a fully stocked bar throws it back quite successfully to another era. Even the contents of the high tea reflect this sentiment, harking it right back to its origins.
A good gauge of any high tea lies in the finger sandwich. (Stale sandwiches at high tea are the worst!) At four per person, these were really soft and fresh with generous fillings. A lovely tang from cultured butter was evident in the cucumber sandwich, creamy yet slightly crisp. Another excellent sandwich was the curried egg, which was mild with the faintest kick of spice.
But the sandwich we both adored was the chicken and avocado. Chunks of chicken breast, studded with soft, ripe avocado and sharp spring onions were ensconced in wholegrain bread and even more of that creamy butter. It was the easily best finger sandwich we’d eaten in a long time.
Two of the four finger sandwiches served. The simple but effective smoked salmon and the excellent chicken and avocado.
The top tier: scones with clotted cream (yay!) and Eccles cakes.
Served with the lushest, biggest scoop of clotted cream, the miniature scones were an instant hit. (No words can express how excited I was about that clotted cream!)
Clotted cream in some parts of England is considered de rigeur with scones, so someone’s really thought about the origins of high tea here. Clotted cream is one step away from butter (in the U.S. it is technically classified as butter), so it’s smooth and very thick with a nutty smell. With as much lady like gracefulness I could muster, I was piling the cream on the scones, with jam dribbling down the sides. Heavenly.
The scones themselves were not bad. They weren’t crumbly nor were they exceptionally light, but settling somewhere between. Although, I was so impressed with the clotted cream, it didn’t matter at all.
Accompanying the scones were two Eccles cakes. Sprinkled with icing sugar, they were really cute with their tiny little vents. Inside the densely layered pastry were currants – lots of currants. They tasted similar to fruit mince pies. To be honest, I’d never eaten an Eccles cake before and as a fruit-mince-pie-hater, they were delicious.
From the left, Battenberg cake, strawberry tartlet and my favourite, the chocolate mousse cake!
Whereas sandwiches and scones are the gauge of any high tea and are easy enough to get right, I reckon the sweets tier is the deal breaker. Sometimes, you get cupcakes. And sometimes you get a jelly cup (no joke). But here the sweets tier has the unmistakable polish of a pastry chef. You get the feeling the sweets were made just for the high tea, each morsel perfectly portioned and meticulously garnished.
The strawberry tart looked so juicy with its rich red, ripe strawberries. Inside was a light custard filling cupped by a short, buttery pastry case. A bit larger than bite sized, there was enough for a good second bite. Yum.
Now for the Battenberg cake (the checkered log). The logs of pink and white cake were glued together with apricot jam, giving a slightly sticky, crumbling centre. It’s quite a dense cake with a strong almond flavour from the marzipan icing. The Battenberg cake is a good addition to the high tea for its texture as much as its English origin. The cake was created by the Royal kitchen for the wedding of Princess Victoria to Prince Louis of Battenberg. The name Battenberg was eventually changed to the more familiar Mountbatten, though the cake’s name remained.
(Cake fact of the day – done.)
I’m a bit like a magpie – I love shiny things – so no surprise that my favourite cake was the chocolate mousse cake. Fluffy, light and with an intensely chocolate rich top coat, I could’ve forced another one down, no problem-o.
Why hello again, chocolate mousse cake.
The back bar of the Terrace Hotel.
The Terrace serves a loose leaf tea with their high tea. (The green tea is particularly fragrant.) Unfortunately I can’t say whether it’s a bottomless pot because we weren’t offered refills. We couldn’t ask the staff either as they had, well, disappeared. Despite that, the high tea was fabulous. Considering the live music, setting and the quality of the food, at $42 per person I’d say it’s fair value.
However, that depends on what you are looking for. If you want a luxe, more intimate high tea, go straight to Rochelle Adonis. For a modern take, make a beeline to The George. But if you want a very English, lady like and well thought out high tea – this one’s for you.
237 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000
T: (08) 9214 4444
Afternoon tea is served every Saturday 1pm – 4pm.
See my high teas page to find more high teas in and around Perth.
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