The Mad Hatter Tea Party – Through the Looking Glass
[Not a review per se, as I don't fully qualify the Lobby Lounge as a restaurant]
On another one of my rants about definitions and whatnot, we have one of the most commonly confused terms out there: the differences between “afternoon tea” and “high tea”.
When most people think high tea, they’re actually referring to afternoon tea. Afternoon tea is when you sit around with your friends, and partake in little savoury and sweet nibbles. Sometimes it may be filling, but it isn’t meant to be. High tea is what fills that role – it is a full blown dinner, often involving fairly heavy dishes like meat roasts and whatnot. Afternoon tea was invented to bridge the three-thirty-itis gap between lunch and dinner (high tea).
Fascinating that, ain’t it chaps? Sorry couldn’t resist.
But of course, these days, the two terms are used so interchangeably, like “Macaron” and “Macaroon” (hint: the former is what you’re generally lusting over) that it doesn’t even make a big deal since everyone knows what’s being referred to. Part of the reason is simply that “high tea” sounds better than “afternoon tea”. It still is nevertheless interesting.
Despite all this ‘knowledge’, I’ve never actually had proper afternoon tea before. A Visit to the Westin Lobby Lounge, as part of the Sydney Crave Food Festival, finally changed this. Read on!
Date Visited: 27/10/2012
Address: 1 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000 (GPO)
Go-to dish: not a restaurant per se, so N/A
The Lobby Lounge serves normal high tea anyway, but for Crave, the Westin served up a very, very awesome Mad Hatter-themed high tea. Alice In Wonderland! Who’d have thought!
What’s awesome is that this entire package only cost $55 pp, and that’s inclusive of a cocktail of our choice! (without cocktails it would’ve been $45). This is actually pretty great value for an afternoon tea.
Much to our pleasant surprise, complimentary champagne was served. I don’t drink, but if you’re offering me free champagne (and it’s only one glass anyway), why not?
I’m not a wine expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I liked what I tasted – a crisp flowery flavour that was not too dry. Fine by me!
So you’re asking yourself “but wait, he just said that he doesn’t drink, so why’d they order cocktails?” – fair question. I originally didn’t intend to, but with the slightest persuasion from my friend, we decided to get them mostly due to the fact that they had Alice In Wonderland-themed names hehe.
Yeah OK so I totally forgot to note down what their names were (nice one Shen). Good on me.
As for the taste, it was kind of like strawberry & watermelon juice, with very little hint of alcohol actually in it. It was intensely refreshing (come on, it’s watermelon) and I found myself drinking more than my fair share.
This cocktail was quite acidic, much more acute in its flavour than the first cocktail. The alcohol was more prominent through this one, and was almost like a palate cleanser in its nature. I preferred cocktail A!
Now, we move onto the food! We start with the savoury section first before working our way up.
Kind of like a deconstructed tuna salad really this one is.
There was nothing wrong with this tidbit – the underlying bread was soft and airy, the crab salad was packed with umami goodness, and the cucumber was fresh and cool. Bingo!
The laugen bread was a bit tough for my liking, but it had a sweetish undertone to it which was nice. The beef was extremely tender, which made for some very nice texture going about, which naturally is compensated and complemented for by the asparagus – which is indeed as fresh as they come. A delicious savoury!
A mini salad that has a bit of everything – I especially enjoyed how the cherry tomato went well with almost everything else there. Freshness as usual is the keyword of the day.
In the end, just a salad though! But a good one.
And here’s what we’re all waiting for – the sugar hit! Time to get my glucose & insulin spikes.
Boy do we start off with a guilt-tripper. So much buttercream, so much ganache, so much jelly. It’s sugar and fat everywhere; it’s a good thing there’s only one for each of us.
The taste was OK, not great, as there was a graininess to the texture of the cake that didn’t feel like it belong there. It did affect my overall impression of what would otherwise be something divine.
Oh and remember my bias against raspberries? Didn’t show its head here as in jelly form, much of the sour is gone. Phew.
The Mad Hatter’s hat itself, this one tasted like all sorts of fun. The icing was super sweet as icing is bound to be, but eat it slowly and you can keep the glucose flowing.
As for the mud cake itself, it is splendit. Rich and dark, it’s what mud cake should be like. Mmmm mmm!
See below for the look of that awesome texture.
Possibly the most awesomely designed piece on show, this blueberry macaron is also new to me in terms of flavour. Haven’t had a blueberry one before, but this easily pleased me; blueberries are one of my favourite types of berry, so that’s not particularly surprising.
The biscuit itself is not as crunchy as some other types, preferring to give more slowly and gradually rather than with a series of cracks. The ganache within is exquisite. You can taste the grains of blueberry seeds within – that was an issue, but it just means that you’re getting the real stuff.
Any afternoon tea wouldn’t be one if you weren’t allowed unlimited amounts of it! We ended up drinking perhaps 3 jugs. Cue the many toilet breaks!
To flavour the tea we have honey that for some reason comes from Austria…it doesn’t really taste any different to Australian honey but the exotic factor is cool, I guess?
If this is what tea is like, I’ve seriously got to get myself out there and have it more often!
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
Unofficially, I’d say this is really high-quality stuff, so be sure to send yourself to the Westin’s Lobby Lounge for some afternoon tea goodness. You can’t go wrong.