High tea is something I grew up having a deep reverence for. My paternal grandmother loved it despite not being big on sweets. But whether you’re into the components of it or not, it’s undeniable that there’s something that’s very refined about sitting in a pretty little salon, nibbling on a huge amount of small things with a great pot of tea next to it.
Last weekend, I went to try ABODE Bistro & Bar’s (of Park Royal Darling Harbour) latest high tea offering that brings international chocolate flavours to their cosy part of Sydney CBD. Upon entering, I’m instantly enamoured by the space which is stunning with lots of white wooden detailing, making you feel like you’re sitting on a country verandah far, far away from the city.
Friendly staff member Hailey was quick to offer us a glass of bubbles as soon as we’re seated. It’s a rather hot day and her enthusiasm and eagerness to make sure we’re comfortable is very much appreciated.
Soon enough, all the different pieces of the high tea are brought to the table. Not pictured is the Brilliant Breakfast Tea and Green Tea with Jasmine Flowers, our tea picks for that afternoon. I love how high teas emphasise individual pots, I can be quite particular about my tea and prefer to have my own rather than feel obliged to go with a communal option.
We’re advised to start with the savouries before moving into sugar territory. The prawn ceviche was how we decided to kick things off. It’s a glass with a generous serve of prawn chunks marinated in an herb and tangy lime-lemon juice and some lettuce. Tangy might be an understatement, it was really quite sour and overpowering which was a shame because the prawn pieces were very chunky with a great bite to it.
We then move to tackling the tiers. The display is Villaroy and Boch and kind of boat-shaped, a modern and welcoming change to the typical fountain shaped high tea stand.
The bottom tier of the remaining savouries is next. Sandwiches are synonymous with high tea and on offer was the chicken and apple slaw finger sandwich and also the crab, cucumber and watercress butter finger sandwich. Both had a great flavour with a good balance of seasoning. I would’ve liked more crab in one of them while the other was generous with the chicken chunks. The broccoli and blue cheese tart is the table’s favourite hands down. It’s tiny but that’s all you need as the tart is quite creamy and blue cheese is not one for liberal doses. I loved the savouriness it imparts and the slight crunchiness that comes from the broccoli bits. The sweet corn tart is similar in structure and tart base but lacks the balance of sweet and salty that the broccoli tart has. Chicken liver pâté would’ve been better if there was more of it as I’m a huge pâté fiend. Last but not least of the savouries was the Asian cured trout crepes with caramel yoghurt, spinach and ocean trout roe. While only a small mouthful, I appreciated that the trout was quite fresh and it all paired quite well.
The middle tier houses the chocolate specialities which feature flavours from Colombia, Indonesia, Madagascar, Peru, Venezuela and Cuba. A stand out for me was the Dominican Republic white chocolate tiramisu which was the perfect combination of sugar to coffee. I am not the biggest fan of chocolate and orange combinations but appreciated the Cuban chocolate used to coat the jaffa cake. The Peruvian chocolate roulade would be a big hit for those who like cream in their desserts while the Indonesian chocolate mint crunch tasted like a fancy After Eights mint.
The scones (peeking out in the background of this photo) are really good! They were warm even after 15 minutes of sitting there. My only gripe was that the dusting sugar was a little heavy handed which results in an overly sweet scone. They really did not need it at all, the raisins, chantilly cream and accompanying jam had hit the sweetness sweet spot.
The top tier of the stand contained the fruit to be dipped into the chilled Madagascan chocolate fondue. In addition to the macerated fruit (which have a mildly fizzy hit from the champagne, it’s quite funky!) there’s also raspberry meringue and coconut marshmallow.
In all honesty, I was really not a fan of the fondue. It was chilled which is a clear difference to conventional fondues but also rather thin with the consistency of chocolate milk rather than thickness and richness that you’d associate with fondue. If you leave it till the end like we did (and we were told to) it also loses it’s chill factor and is on the tepid side, most likely due to the hot day.
There’s a certain longing that’s developed when eating tiny bites during high tea. For the components that really hit the mark, you want more of. For the ones that are lacking, you regret the calorie intake. For example, things like the ocean trout, I wish were a full blown meal. Things like the fondue, I would have been happy to pass and pop fruit piece after fruit piece into my mouth as is. There were overall quite a few things I didn’t like but I’m also aware that my personal biases can be quite particular, meaning some of the things I had issues with, most people might not. For the venue, the price and the amount of food you can get, it is certainly worth considering especially as a gift.
ABODE Bistro & Bar’s Chocolate High Tea starts at $45 per person including one tea selection. Available every Friday from 2.00pm to 4.00pm, Saturday and Sunday from 11.30am to 1.30pm and 2.00pm to 4.00pm.
Address: 150 Day St, Sydney NSW 2000
Contact: (02) 9261 1188