In an ideal world I would be a lady of leisure who goes to high tea every week. I would also be able to eat everything I wanted without getting fat. Sadly, that is not the case and high tea remains a special occasion affair. With that in mind, I took my mum to enjoy the winter high tea menu at the Westin.
High tea is served in the lobby lounge of the hotel. True to its name the lobby lounge is right in the lobby of the hotel. You would think that this would be rather intrusive and not at all conducive to a long relaxed high tea but due to the secluded nature of the hotel itself the setting was perfect. We were seated in the library area, next to a toasty fireplace which warmed me up to me bones after battling the freezing winds outside.
The Westin offers tea from Jing tea. I loved seeing all the Chinese teas on the tea menu and was instantly drawn to the white peony tea. This was a lovely mellow way to start the afternoon. My mum had a latte and remarked that the coffee was actually pretty darn good.
The modern three tier stand is quite the sight. It retains all the same elements of a traditional high tea but comes across as fresher and just a bit more modern. In all honesty that really summed up my whole high tea experience. Let’s not just leave it at though and get into the details of what was on the stand!
I started with a vanilla scone. As someone who makes a lot of scones I think that I have fairly high standards. Happily these scones were absolutely lovely. They didn’t have a lot of flavour on their own but they were oh so light and fluffy inside with a nice short crumb: perfect for spreading cream and jam over. The other scone was had orange and dates in it but sadly I was too full to actually try it.
The savoury selection was another winner. The parmesan sable with Maffra cloth cheddar and roast beef, spinach and horseradish cream finger sandwich were the real standouts. As a salmon lover the smoked salmon sandwich was also something that I thoroughly enjoyed. The chicken and bacon pithivier was also a nice way to break up the selection of sandwiches.
As good as everything else the cakes were the real winner here. The lemon tart with apricot and pineapple was the perfect mix of tangy lemon, smooth curd and crumbly pastry. The delice was also extraordinarily pretty and tasty. I loved the pairing of pistachio with lime and green tea. It also felt like a bit of a shame to destroy the beautifully marbled top and to eat the gold leaf on top of the cake. I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed the black forest cheesecake. Usually I’m not one for black forest cakes but this cake was so smooth and just rich enough to have me coming back for more. The cherries, which are usually my biggest gripe when it comes to black forest cake weren’t too prominent and added just the right amount of juicy fruitiness. . Perhaps the weakest sweet was the ginger white chocolate mousse with roasted rhubarb. That being said, it was still lovely. I think the best part of the desserts was just how balanced they were. Nothing was too rich or cloying and the lighter desserts helped balance out some of the heavier ones.
Throughout the course of the afternoon we sampled a few more teas. The oolong and peppermint were great at helping us digest all the food! At times the service was a little spotty as it would take some time to get the wait staff’s attention or to get more tea. However, that didn’t really impede on my enjoyment of the tea. I think because there aren’t timed sessions the whole affair feels incredibly relaxed.
I have to say that high tea at the Westin completely exceeded my expectations and is one of the best high teas I have had in Melbourne. The food was impeccable and at no point did I ever feel rushed. It felt like I could sit there for hours people watching in the hotel lobby, and down towards Melbourne town hall. Although I am not any closer to living in my ideal high tea world, high tea at the lobby lounge helped me pretend that I was.