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Monday, November 28, 2005

High Tea at The Globe Bar, The Observatory Hotel

silver cutlery

When five foxxy females seek to celebrate four November birthdays, a High Tea affair offers the perfect combination of sophistication, conversation and self-indulgent deserved gluttony.

Our chosen destination was The Observatory Hotel, a member of the Orient-Express family which, although only built in 1993, attempts to look as if it has been there ever since 1893.


The olde world charm is apparent in its heavy lounge settings, mahogany furniture and trail of ornamental keepsakes dispersed throughout the downstairs lobby. There's a plaque marked Drawing Room and I feel an irrepressible urge to request a pipe, smoking gown and perhaps a monocle on a chain as well.

observatory lounge

High tea takes place in the Globe Bar. The patrons inside are dignified and speak in muted tones. I do my best to trudge in elegantly, and as I sink into a padded textured velvet sofa, a solemn-looking staff member is quick to offer a pot of tea.

observatory globe bar

A silver tray floats across the floor before it is lowered majestically on a nearby sidetable. A slender but heavy silver tea pot is lifted mid-air, a tea strainer readied, and then the pot is tilted gracefully forward for the cascade of steaming hot tea which flows delicately into my white china tea cup.

Bowb then appears, and soon after Saffron, S and A as well. Excitement is mounting as we prepare ourselves for an afternoon of tasty decadence.


Champagne arrives and we chit chat as we wait for our soon-to-arrive tier of goodies.


We wait and we wait and during a series of nervous glances at our watches, we realise that over forty minutes have passed and no food has arrived. Girly talk is all very well, but it cannot be sustained without sugar and cream and sustenance in general.

We cast pained looks of jealousy at the other smaller tables which seem to have their tiers arrive in next to no time. We are perplexed at the delay as we had made a booking weeks before. Surely they knew that five ravenous girls would be ready and waiting for the highlight of their week?

high tea stand

Finally, finally our tier beholden with goodness arrives. The staff member sweeps in and out with barely a word and we all shift about in our seats peering at the arrival with none-too-elegant finger pointing and curious musings out loud.

We begin with scones which are pleasant but perhaps a little doughy. Any shortcomings are quickly forgiven though with a thick splodge of strawberry jam--dense with whole strawberries-- and an even bigger spoonful of heavy and heavenly ivory cream.


Sandwiches are a source of much discussion: there is ham and cheese; cucumber and watercress; smoked salmon and capers; and the crowd favourite of soft curried egg.


The final dessert stage is again fraught with decisions. Feedback is sought from the first taste adventurers, as discussion culminates on how to personally ensure "the last perfect mouthful".

The mini chocolate friand is rich and almost squidgy in texture. It is moist and buttery like a dense chocolate brownie and topped with a trio of pistachio, walnut and almond.

A fragile fruit tart is almost crushed by eager fingers, set sail by slivers of mango and strawberry, with blueberry and raspberry anchors at the ready.

My chosen finale is the almond slice, a sticky square reminiscent of a florentine with camarel-set flaked almonds, sunny flashes of candied peel and atop a crisp buttery biscuit base sandwiched with jam.

petit four

I am forlorn for my long-empty and stone cold tea pot which has neither been refilled nor replaced at any stage during our two-and-a-half hour visit. Although we have had much fun and frivolity in a room lending to gloom, we are a little disappointed with our group's apparent invisibility.

A trip to the bathroom offers some consolation. A bottle of complimentary mouthwash is utilised for post-tea refreshment and the genuine cotton hand towels are appreciated for our soft, delicate milky white hands.


We exit onto the street all smiles and laughter for there has been sugar and cream and good company all-round.

observatory sign
The Observatory Hotel
89-113 Kent Street, Millers Point, Sydney, Australia
Tel: +61 (02) 9256 2222

High Tea at the Globe Bar is held daily 2.30pm-5.00pm

$29.00 for a three-tier high tea
$39.00 with a glass of champagne

Related GrabYourFork posts
High tea at the Swissotel Crossroads Bar (Jan09) ,
(Nov06), (Jun06) and (Oct05)
High tea at the Sofitel Wentworth (Sep08) and (Dec06)
High tea at the Victoria Room, Darlinghurst
7 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 11/28/2005 11:56:00 pm


  • At 11/29/2005 12:45 pm, Blogger Kelly said…

    Hi AG. I have to stop reading about your high tea adventures immediately before lunchtime! I made the same mistake last time :) It looks very yummy and pretty, although I always prefer my high tea buffet style...

  • At 11/29/2005 6:59 pm, Blogger Ed said…

    That's really shitty when youhave to wait 40 minutes for food like that, especially in such a pricey establishment. They should really be doing better.

  • At 11/30/2005 4:05 am, Blogger obachan said…

    The dessert looks so tempting... :)

  • At 12/01/2005 10:12 am, Blogger deborah said…

    Mmmm, yes. I wont be heading back or recommneidng this in a hurry. It is great for the experience - but if you are hungry maybe not so much.

  • At 12/01/2005 3:31 pm, Blogger Chubby Hubby said…

    Great post. I can almost see you tapping your foot waiting for your food to arrive. Happy belated birthday. 5 November gals... 5 scorpios at a table... scary!

  • At 3/17/2008 12:26 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I wish I had read your comments before going to High tea at the Observatory Hotel in November 2007. My friend Patricia and i would have saved ousrselves the disappointment. We too are in search of the perfect High Tea in Sydney- we have been to six different venues over about 2 years. I loved the decor of the Globe Bar, the menu booklet is quite elegant and seductive as is the fine china, silver tea pot. BUT the service is the worst I have encountered- practically ripping the tea cup out of your hand and shoving the bill on the table while in mid bite- and the food portions by far the stingiest. We were really annoyed until we too visted the toilets- but the High Tea can't be about the toilets can it? For the most elegant High Tea experience go to the Four Seasons Hotel- beautifully liveried waitstaff, fine china, divine fresh jam and cream with the scones, and I don't remember getting through all the desserts. We found the Swissotel High Tea is by far the best value with unlimited buffet trips and unlimited teas and coffees but no fine china!

  • At 3/19/2008 12:40 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Martha - Sorry to hear about your disappointing experience. I've yet to get to the Four Seasons high tea - I hear the Sheraton on the Park afternoon buffet is also good. I think we need a blog devoted just to Sydney high teas - then everyone can share their photos and experiences :)


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