Level 3 (Northern End)
The Queen Victoria Building
455 George Street
Tel: + 61 2 9283 7279
In September 2004, one week after my sister departed on her world adventure (which still hasn’t ended!), my closest friend up and left the country too.
It was horrible. One minute she was always there for a rant, a laugh or drunken debauchery – the next minute she was riding a bicycle in Amsterdam and learning to order cheese sandwiches in Dutch (incidentally, one of the only things she learnt to say in Dutch).
Shelley lived in the Netherlands until February this year when, instead of moving back to Sydney (and me!), she started a Masters in some kind of arty thing in Melbourne.
Not happy! Let it be stated now that art is my enemy.
These days, the only time we have together are hour long downloads over the phone and the rare visit to each other’s city.
Recently I had the pleasure of one of these visits when Shelley came up for her Dad’s 50th birthday. I took Monday off work and we decided to do the girliest things we could: high tea.
I love high tea. It’s wonderfully wonderful.
It’s just so civilised to spend the morning or afternoon supping from dainty three tiered sandwich stands and sipping on quality tea in fine china.
The QVB is the nickname of the Queen Victoria Building, which was designed by George McRae and finished in 1898. I am told the architectural style is Romanesque and that it was built during a recession as a tactic to occupy a lot of unemployed craftsmen. It was originally used as a concert hall as well as tea rooms, shops, offices and showrooms. (This photo is courtesy of The Tearoom website.)
Today it’s full of cafes, shops and showrooms for jewellers and designers.
The Tearoom in the QVB is particularly dainty. The site is the formal Grand Ballroom and with high ceilings, white walls and flooding natural light, it’s a wonderful place to enjoy silver service tea.
I have tried the high tea at The Victoria Room in Darlinghurst and, while it was good, it certainly can’t compete with the delightful food at The Tearoom.
The Tearoom's "sparkling high tea" (AUD$30) came with a glass of Australian sparkling wine, which we lapped up over gossip and giggles.
Then the teas arrived: earl grey for Shelley (that famous bergamot aroma) and an orange pekoe for me (rich black tea made from the youngest flower buds and leaves). Orange pekoe does not taste like oranges but is named thus due to the colour of the dried flower buds.
With our tea came the three level tower of treats:
Top: smoked salmon, cucumber and dill sandwich; egg sandwich; goats’ cheese tartlet
Mid: shortbread with passionfruit cream; choux pastry with fresh raspberry filling; elegant sweet pastry case with strawberry salsa; rich chocolate brownie; dense almond and lemon syrup cake
Base: fruit scones with jam and clotted cream
I couldn’t have been happier with the selection. The sandwich fillings were absolutely delicious and I wondered why I don’t eat sandwiches more often. How can something so simple taste so good?
The tiny cakes on the second tier were delicious and each one had its own unique flavour and texture. Sweet, fruity and sticky. Perfect sized samples of each.
The scones were warm, soft and divine after I smeared them with rich clotted cream (which I find so hard to get hold of in Sydney!).
What better way to spend an afternoon with a wonderful friend!