Sunday, November 14, 2010

High Tea at The Hotel Windsor

Do you like going out somewhere special for a meal on your birthday? It's always been a highlight for me to be taken out somewhere, or to arrange it for my myself where there are no other offers. It is a decadent, enjoyable way to celebrate, and I believe that most people like being treated to a meal on their birthday.

Recently, it was Tim's birthday. When I asked him where he would like to go for his birthday, he nominated high tea. The place where I was originally going to make a booking was full, having just been featured in The Age, so instead, I was lucky enough to get a booking just a couple of days in advance at The Hotel Windsor on Spring Street, Melbourne.

The Hotel Windsor is in a lovely historical building, built in 1883, and retains a lavish art deco period lobby complete with red and gold colours, padded gilt chairs and waterfall chandeliers. A little known fact is that Australia's Constitution was drafted at The Hotel Windsor in 1898, and many famous political and public figures have graced its halls during its lifetime. Unbelievably, at one stage in the mid 1970s, there were plans to demolish it. Thank goodness that Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen's "improvement" program in Brisbane, Queensland was not allowed to take root on the same scale in Melbourne, and The Hotel Windsor survives for us to enjoy today.

High tea at the Windsor is served in the signature dining room. To set the scene, here is one of the many chandeliers gracing the ceiling of the main dining room:

These lovely prints were on the wall near our table:

When you enter the dining room, you are greeted by a sea of white-draped tables, elegantly set for tea:

I was privileged to sit on a plush couch seat by the window, with lemony sunlight filtering through and illuminating the spectacle of high tea as it unfolded.

In anticipation of the feast to come, each table has its own pots of jam and clotted cream in glistening silverware:

We were ushered to our seats past this magnificent buffet of desserts:

Piled high with all kinds of sweet delicacies, the dessert buffet was a highlight of the experience:

The hardest part was choosing where to start.

On being seated, we were served with a glass of sparkling rose:

Next came a tiered silver tea stand stacked with treats for two:

On the bottom tier are delightful ribbon sandwiches of salmon, avocado and dill; egg and snow pea; ham and mustard; chicken, apple and mayonnaise; and cucumber, sour cream and chives:

The middle tier comprised mini quiches, savoury muffins and mini pies:

On the top tier were fluffy fruit and plain scones:

The menu on each table claimed that the selection of treats on the silver stands is the same variety as was served to guests on The Titanic. Whether this be true or not, it was a delicious selection of food that was beautifully presented and served by friendly and efficient staff.

In addition to to the treats on the stand delivered to your table, you are served with water and an assortment of teas, and are free to help yourself from the dessert buffet. There was also a lady making crepes on demand, on which you poured your own selection of sauces. I chose creme anglaise and raspberry coulis:

For the price of the high tea ($69), you are free to eat your fill of treats for two hours.

The Hotel Windsor high tea experience is an elegant salute to times past, which I sincerely hope will be preserved in our consciousness to be enjoyed by others in the future.

The Hotel Windsor
100-150 Spring Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9633 6000


Anonymous said...

That looks like a perfect way to celebrate a birthday! All of the treats look so delicious. I don't even want to think about how much I could eat in two hours!

Flourchild said...

Wow what a great way to spend ones birthday..High tea at The Hotel Windsor. Im a sucker for old hotels that our decorated so beautifully! By the looks of the tea and all the goodies you all must have had a fab. time!! I agree with you on picking special places for your birthday, I love to do that!

yummychunklet said...

I absolutely love a proper tea service! I usually have tea at The Drake Hotel in Chicago. Lovely photos!

Kayte said...

This was so much fun to see and read about, thanks for taking the time to share it all. Happy Birthday to Tim! It all looks wonderful.

Johanna GGG said...

Great place for a birthday celebration - I have been there once quite a few years back and keep meaning to return - it really does feel like a treat - hope you both enjoyed it and didn't have dinner planned afterwards

CurlyPops said...

I went there for my birthday a couple of years ago and it was absolutely exquisite...which reminds me that I should definitely go again!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

It's very pretty indeed and I'm impressed that a guy wanted to go there! Hubby usually runs screaming from High Teas hehe :P

Cakelaw said...

Thanks to all for your comemnts. Johnanna, it was perfect because we had a 12pm session, so it became lunch - I wanted the later session, which I now realise would have been a bad idea, because I would have been full after lunch. Lorraine, I was stoked - it meant that I got to go too!

The Caked Crusader said...

You can't beat a good afternoon tea - my husband took me for one this weekend - pure decadence!

Conor @ Hold the Beef said...

Possibly worth a visit just for the silverware ;)

Beth said...

What a lovely restaurant, and there's nothing as elegant as high tea. That's a fun way to celebrate a birthday!

Gloria said...

Cake Law What lovely place!! Look nice! x gloria

Amanda said...

I am tea girl from way back and high tea is one of my favourite indulgences.
We will be over in Melbourne in January for the tennis - must remember to drop into the Windsor!

Emily said...

I would love to go to high tea! This seems like so much fun! Did you stuff yourselves? I think I wouldn't be able to stop myself.

Susan: My Food Obsession said...

The dessert buffet does look good - that is where I would have been all day LOL!