The Price Of Tea At QVB

The first time I went to high tea was about 15 years ago for a girlfriend’s birthday at the Victoria Room in Darlinghurst, Sydney. It was very bohemian and very dim. Sheer fabric separated the tables and the room looked a little bit like an old claustrophobic antique store. Crammed into the room were tassels, fringes, crystals and bejeweled items in a room full of strong red and purple colours. Bottles of champagne popped amongst teapots and teacups and I wondered if the name should have been changed to high booze.

I had expected something more ‘English’, more country manor, less dimness, more restraint in colour and noise. Surely the English spoke in muted tones when partaking in such an esteemed event as high tea? Surely the English would not have popped champagne in the middle of the day?

Fast forward 15 years, and I’m at The Tea Room in the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) in Sydney with Panda, her friend G and G’s mum. The QVB itself is a beautiful historic building built in 1898, and the girls are extremely excited to be posh ladies for 2 hours. I’m also extremely pleased – things are as I expect high tea to be.


The Tea Room is located in the original Grand ballroom (swoon). The lift entrance is encased in glass and reception is outside the actual dining room to keep noise levels down. When you walk into the large room, you barely hear a murmur even though there are guests already enjoying their morning tea. We are seated on large single person lounges at a low table. Baccarat crystal chandeliers hang from the very high ornate Victorian ceilings, the carpet is soft and thick, and there is a huge urn in the middle of the room with a large pastel-hued flower arrangement. Sumptuous is the word.

There’s also something very grand about drinking tea from a silver teapot and dining on delicate morsels of food from a 3-tiered plate stand, and a Royal Albert one at that.

With my carb-sensors switched off, the afternoon high tea is all fresh and reasonably tasty. The hot course includes Peking duck pancakes (bingo! say Panda’s eyes) and a savoury cheese biscuit with smoked salmon.

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For the cold course we have crust-less sandwiches (which were a little lacking in the wow factor that I was expecting for the price we’re paying) with fillings like coronation chicken (chicken in a curry sauce is our explanation to the girls), egg and chives, and cheddar and chutney.

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The sweets are done well and include a salted caramel macaron, chocolate mousse cake, blood orange jelly cheesecake and a lovely mini fruit tart. I struggle to finish an extra-large scone which comes with jam and cream, however I do enjoy the sweet and slightly crumbly texture.

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The girls share a serving, which turns out to be a wise move, because we go from totally famished to Oh no, you have it, I can’t fit anything else in with 3 sweets and a scone left. Although the girls do manage to polish off the bowl of cream (I’ve always told Panda that dairy is good for you).

While the food isn’t going to get them into any food guides, in between the girls fluttering their eye-lids while drinking tea with their pinkies raised (because apparently that’s what posh ladies do when having afternoon tea), the attentive service of the unflappable waiters, the lavish surrounds and tranquil atmosphere of The Tea Room, it was a great afternoon out for two harried mums and two wonderful tweens who deserved the day out.

Verdict: High tea isn’t cheap – you’re paying for both the food, surrounds and the feelings that the experience evokes (which isn’t always a bad thing). It’s definitely not something you would do on a regular basis, and it’s best shared with family and friends.

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Cost: Afternoon tea $45 pp and $6 for a glass of orange juice

Website: http://thetearoom.com.au/

Photo Credits:

Exterior of QVB: denn via VisualHunt / CC BY-SA

Interior of QVB: NickiMM via Visualhunt.com / CC BY

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Message Of A Thousand Thoughts

A friend of mine sent the following message:

“Come over for lunch one day before we move back, the renos are almost finished. We can have a swim and eat at the Country Club so I can get the most value out of this mind-numbingly exorbitant rent I’ve been paying these last few months.

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After you wrangle the kids to finish their breakfast, threaten to cut their screen time if they don’t stop fighting and raise your blood pressure trying to get them to school on time, meet me at my apartment after school drop off. It shouldn’t take you long since you won’t have the kids whining at you or fighting each other because someone took their red Lego piece which they absolutely need right NOW and no other red Lego piece will do, while you pack their drinks, snacks, swimmers and towels. You’ll just have to get your own stuff. You’ll just have one little bag. Remember those days?

But wait! There’s more! We’ll get to swim BY OURSELVES. Remember how that feels? No? I didn’t think so. Let me remind you – you get into your swimmers and then get into the water! Get it? You won’t have to wrestle with the kids while you pull their rashies over their heads as they protest that it’s too tight. You won’t have to bribe them to go to the toilet beforehand and then risk a melt-down as you stretch their goggles onto their heads and readjust for 20 mins until the goggles are just right. You won’t have to think about all that for one day. Imagine that!

It’s lovely to see the kids having fun, but this time you won’t have to stand in the water shivering while the kids jump and splash at you. You won’t have to piggy back them around the pool. You won’t have to have a heart attack if they go under water and not surface after 2 seconds. No readjusting their goggles because it’s too tight or the water’s going into them or it’s gone foggy.

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We can just swim how we want, when we want and for as long as we want. Breaststroke, freestyle or no style, it doesn’t matter. No interruptions! Except of course when we feel hungry. Not when they’re hungry and need a snack and it won’t be the snack you’ve packed and then – well, there won’t be ‘and then’ because that won’t happen on this day. Then let’s have a hot shower. Straight away. No shivering as we rinse the kids. No fights to dry and clothe them. No wet feet, no wet hair to dry. No Mum, why are you taking so long in the shower? I want to go. Hurry up I’m bored.

Oohh, the menu will be fantastic. We can order ANYTHING we want. It can be spicy, it’ll be non-kid friendly, it can be ANYTHING. Duck and fig salad. NZ snapper with mussel cream sauce. Confit duck with creamy potato mash. We won’t have to share. Any of it. What’s more, we can eat when the food’s still hot. No cutting up their food, no picking out green bits and no scraping sauce off. We don’t have to order chips. Unless we want to. And we won’t have to pay crazy money just so the kids can order deep fried chicken nuggets out of a packet straight from the freezer to you for $15.

Ahhh. Can things get any better? How about dessert? Not just vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. How about a lemon curd tart? Coconut and passionfruit slice? A macaron? Maybe even a flourless orange cake. With cream. All for ourselves with a quiet cup of tea. No Mum, I’m bored. I want to go home. Can we go home now? We won’t have to leave until we want to. Well, until it’s time for school pick up.”

Ok, the actual message read:

“Come over for lunch one day before we move back – the renos are almost finished.”

But I think the person who said “A picture says a thousand words” was limiting themselves to only one side of life.