Saturday, 21 July 2012

Afternoon Tea at the Hotel Windsor (111 Spring St Restaurant)

Afternoon Tea at The Hotel Windsor (111 Spring St Restaurant) – 111 Spring St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Tea menu, High Tea stand
Afternoon Tea at the Hotel Windsor is a truly decadent, High Tea affair. Served in the Hotel’s restaurant, Afternoon Tea at the Windsor harks back to a bye-gone era of Victorian romanticism. Walking into the sun-filled restaurant with its high ceilings and ornate iron chandeliers, and sitting at a table set with heavy white linens and delicate crockery and cutlery, you could be excused for thinking that you had gone back in time to a time of corseted Ladies in heavy dresses, sipping tea from fine bone china, and daintily nibbling on decadent cakes.

Hotel Windsor blend
I was taken to Afternoon Tea at the Windsor by my lovely friend N during my recent trip to Melbourne. When we arrived at the Windsor, we were greeted by the Hostess who arranged for a somewhat lost-looking waitress to take us to our seats. After we were seated, the waitress quickly ran off to seat others, leaving us with an exciting looking tea menu. There are 15 teas on this menu, ranging from The Hotel Windsor Blend (standard black tea), to Orange Pekoe, Darjeeling, and Oriental Jasmine Green, as well as some more unusual blends including the ‘Peaceful Lotus’ and ‘Enchanted Heart’. A word for the uninitiated – the teas become more interesting as they go down the menu.

Delicious cakes
Our first tea came without us having ordered anything. It was the Hotel Windsor Blend. Described as having help make the Windsor the most famous and awarded afternoon tea venue in Australia, I was a bit disappointed by it. It was your stock-standard black tea, and was quite unexciting. I take my tea without milk or sugar as I’m a bit of a purist and think that the tea should speak for itself. This blend, however, would have been greatly improved by these additions. The tea was served by being poured into my cup from a large teapot that the waiter was carrying around. After he poured my tea, the waiter kept this teapot. I found this disappointing as it meant that I could not refill my cup myself. The cups which the tea is served in are absolutely beautiful. Made of gold-rimmed bone china, they are delicate and lady-like. They are also a decent size; not too small and not too big.

Quiches, pies and cheese puffs
Soon after we had started drinking, our High Tea arrived. Served on a gorgeous three-tier stand, afternoon tea includes five varieties of ribbon sandwiches; quiches, pies and cheese puffs; and a range of delicious miniature cakes. Scones are also served with cream and two types of jam.

Glorious Blooming Tea
While we were eating, waiters continued to pass by with the Windsor Blend. I became a bit frustrated as we had been given a tea menu but didn’t seem to have been any way to order off it. Eventually I managed to flag a waiter down who explained to me that we could, in fact, order teas. N and I asked for a ‘Glorious Blooming Tea’ and an ‘Enchanted Heart’. Two pots of the ‘Glorious Blooming Tea’ arrived, however the ‘Enchanted Heart’ never came. The ‘Glorious Blooming Tea’ was unlike any tea I had ever seen before. Served in a large glass teapot, I was presented with what looked like a blooming plant, complete with a red flower bud on top. When I asked the waiter what type of tea it was, he somewhat abruptly replied that it was “like a green tea” and then walked off. I was surprised by this response as I got the impression that he actually did not know the answer to my question. This is disappointing because (1) the Windsor prides itself on its afternoon tea, and (2) it was a legitimate question that I thought would have been asked often. Our Blooming Teas turned out to be quite pleasant. They had a green tea-like flavour, however were better visually than they were taste-wise.

Beautiful metal tea pots for Cleopatra's Champagne
After we finished our Glorious Blooming Teas, we flagged over the same waiter and ordered ‘Cleopatra’s Champagne’. Described as “taking you to the Kingdom of ancient Egypt with goddess Cleopatra’s age-old secret”, this tea contains chamomile flowers, rose petals and lavender buds. Served in a gorgeous heavy metal teapot, the chamomile in this blend really overtook and somewhat overpowered the floral tones of the rose and lavender. Nevertheless it was quite pleasant and I would recommend it for any chamomile fans. This tea was also of a high grade – it contained actual flowers and petals.

Glorious Blooming Tea
Overall, Afternoon Tea at the Hotel Windsor was an experience I’ll never forget. The food was delicious and incredibly filling, so try not to eat lunch before coming otherwise you won’t fit everything in! The teas were also different and unusual, however I was disappointed not to have been able to try more before we were kicked out to make way for the dinner crowd. I also didn’t like that we couldn’t share teas; ordering one tea each seemed to be too much for the waiters. I also loved the Windsor as I’m a big history nerd. The Hotel has a rich history (part of the Constitution was drafted here), and I love that the owners have carefully retained and highlighted this important building’s original features.

Tea: 8/10
Tea menu! Interesting selection. Rare and unusual teas.

Pot: 8/10
No pot for the Hotel Windsor tea. Gorgeous glass pot for the Glorious Blooming tea, and a lovely metal pot for the Cleopatra’s Champagne. The cups which the teas are served in are lovely.

Ambience etc: 6/10
Afternoon Tea is served in a beautiful room that is a tribute to a by-gone era. Yummy food. Points deducted for giving us no instructions upon arrival as to how to order the teas on the menu. The Windsor also lost points as the waiter did not listen to our orders and could not answer my questions.


MissTea xoxo

Find them:

Mon – Fri: 2pm and 2.30pm – 4.30pm
Sat & Sun: 12 noon and 2pm – 4.30pm
Reservations essential

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