Is high tea just for the gals?
This thought crossed my mind as seven female food bloggers assembled at The Loft on King Street Wharf for their Christmas in July high tea. Whilst a sweet tooth seems to strike more women than men, I've known more than a few blokes who secretly wanted to join a baby shower or hen's day just so they could partake in high tea and indulge.
On Saturday it was women only, a camera-happy crew that included Betty, Karen, Lorraine, Stephcookie and Suze, organised by the lovely Lisa.
One of the key differences with high tea at The Loft is the inclusion of cocktails. An extra $10 pays for a glass of sparkling wine at most establishments, but here there's also the option of selecting a fancy fruity cocktail, infused with tea and mixed with spirits. In keeping with lady-like decorum, the cocktails are presented in teapots filled with ice cubes. Sure it's a gimmick but oh it's cute and indulgently fanciful.
Santa's Little Helper teapot cocktail
Fresh berries crushed with cranberry juice, bourbon and fruit liquers
balanced with a hint of citrus topped off with red fruits tea
The obliging Betty agrees to be our hand model for the day and patiently pours all our cocktails for a camera-clicking frenzy of "money shots".
Santa's Little Helper is the most alcoholic of the day with many describing it as almost medicinal in taste. I'd probably have preferred a little more sweetness and a touch less alcohol.
Rudolph's Nose teapot cocktail
Fresh rhubarb puree and fresh cherry shaken with bison grass vodka
and a hint of citrus finished with Turkish apple tea
Rudolph's Nose is the cocktail I had my eye on from the menu. It's the most popular on the day, with the flavour of rhubarb really coming through.
Silent Night teapot cocktail
Chocolate liquer combined with Martel VS and a touch of chilled espresso,
rounded off with peppermint tea
I hadn't been too keen on the idea of the Silent Night and find it tastes like a cold and slightly alcoholic diluted espresso. I don't detect much peppermint flavour although Suze (a peppermint-phobe) is none too keen. The chocolate liquer isn't as noticeable as I'd hoped, and part of me thinks that chocolate liquer is preferably paired with milk.
Sencha Quince Fizz teapot cocktail
Lillet shaken with a hint of vanilla, fresh passionfruit pulp,
pink grapefruit and chilled T2's Sencha Quince tea
We order the Sencha Quince Fizz on recommendation of others who'd had high tea here only the week before. This one is a narrow second-favourite, intense with passionfruit flavour, rounded out with the pink grapefruit, sencha quince tea and touch of vanilla. Lillet is a French aperitif made from a blend of 85% wine and citrus liquers.
Teapot cocktails meet and greet
Tea-infused cocktails [L-R]:
Silent Night chocolate espresso and peppermint tea;
Santa's Little Helper cranberry and bourbon with red fruits tea; and
Rudolph's Nose rhubarb, cherry and Turkish apple tea
Christmas high tea with a twist $45pp incl teapot cocktail
Oh, did you heart just flutter with excitement like ours did when these arrived?
With eager efficiency, we shuffle teapots, glasses, plates and menus aside to make room for the triple-tiered stands. We had had one late cancellation and faced with a 50% cancellation fee, decide to go ahead and pay for another high tea anyway.
Sandwiches: baby prawn mayo with sprouts; honey-roasted leg ham
with mustard pickle; and turkey and cranberry
served with chicken and pistachio galantine; ham and roast onion frittata;
and baby red peppers stuffed with goat's cheese
Our selection of sandwiches include turkey and cranberry, honey-roasted leg ham with mustard pickle, and baby prawn with mayonnaise and sprouts. I confess I'm a little disappointed with the sandwiches, expecting thick cut sourdough bread not supermarket-style slices. I'm also secretly pining for the delicacy of cucumber sandwiches or the simple nourishment of egg and lettuce.
The chicken and pistachio galantine is an odd disc of springy protein and whilst the frittata is almost a neon yellow, the square itself is soft and sweet. The red onion slices within have turned a strange shade of blue. I'm quite a fan of the mini red peppers stuffed with goat's cheese, a mild mouthful with a faint afterheat of chilli.
Scones with jam and cream and white Christmas rum ball truffle
White Christmas rum ball truffles have a hint of rum although serving them on a spoon seems a touch sterile (perhaps a mini red or green foil patty pan would've added more festivity).
Scones with jam and cream
The scones are soft and fluffy, not overly sweet from the addition of sultanas, although I find the strawberry jam a touch sugary.
Macadamia nut brownie, traditional mince pies
and baked custard tarts with cherry compote
(the jam in the middle is for the scone below)
A trio of petit fours concludes the sweets. The baked custard tart with cherry compote is quite sweet with a dangerous drip factor. Macadamia nut brownie is rich and chocolatey, the interior still dark and barely set. To my surprise I quite enjoy the traditional mince pie, not being the biggest fan of the mincemeat. There's only a mere scraping of mincemeat and the shortcrust pastry is buttery and baked to a crisp, almost like a shortbread.
T2 teas [clockwise from bottom-left]: French Earl Grey, Chai,
English breakfast, Buddha's tears (jasmine), and Turkish apple
Our teas arrive toward the end of our afternoon tea, their delivery pegged according to the consumption of our teapot cocktails (slow and meandering, as the bar staff consistently discover).
Despite our earlier intentions, we're all completely full by the time we've eaten our portions, the extra serving remaining largely untouched (except the scone which is eagerly swooped on).
There's an element of city sophistication as we sip, sup and chill to the tinkle of ivories by the in-house pianist. The afternoon sun streams through the floor-to-ceiling glass and every now and then a loud and urgent horn blasts from the boats at the wharf below.
I wouldn't call the food the drawcard here, but those looking for fun cocktails with live music and a water view will sip to their heart's content.
High tea and teapot cocktails
High tea at The Loft lounge
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High tea at The Loft
3 Lime Street, King Street Wharf, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9299 4770
High tea available Saturdays and Sundays 12pm-3pm - Bookings essential
Traditional high tea with tea or coffee $35 per person
High tea with a twist (includes teapot cocktail or glass of sparkling) $45 per person
The Christmas in July high tea finishes on the weekend of July 25-26, 2009
Related Grab Your Fork posts
High tea at the Swissotel Crossroads Bar (Jan09), (Nov06) , (Jun06) and (Oct05)
High tea at the Observatory Hotel, Globe Bar
High tea at the Sofitel Wentworth (Sep08) and (Dec06)
High tea at the Victoria Room, Darlinghurst
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7/20/2009 01:43:00 a.m.