I’m a big fan of that little indulgence of high tea and today I visited The Waiting Room at Crown in Melbourne. There is definitely something very glutinous about eating cakes, pastries and sandwiches until your hearts content and I’m certainly not afraid to admit I did just that! Just mention the word cakes and I will be there! With a modern twist on high tea at Crown’s Waiting room, you will be delighted with the unique offerings being served in the lobby bar.
The waiting room is one of Melbourne’s most luxurious lobby bars and exudes an opulent 1940s feel, it is quiet and intimate. Today I dined with my mother as it was her birthday and what better way to celebrate than with an indulgent affair of high tea.
The venue itself is very much summed up by rich dark colours, glitzy surfaces and a glamorous ambiance. Candles adorn throughout on tables and ledges, whilst the room lighting is purposely low to accentuate the candle light. In the background, was music by the legendary Billie Holiday and others of that jazz era. It reminded me of a ‘hangout’ that old movie stars from the golden age of Hollywood would feel right at home, sipping on champagne as the Jazz music played mellowly in the background.
We arrived around 12 noon after booking a table a few weeks in advance. We were welcomed by the friendly waitress, who showed us to our table and explained to us how the high tea is served. She took our orders for tea and regularly checked on us for re-fills throughout the afternoon. Where we sat, was in a lovely cozy position and we were able to admire the whole length of the venue, as we were only one of three tables in this area. The Waiting Room is not a large venue and you will want to be seated inside rather than the area adjacent to the lobby.
Within a short time our waitress was back to set the table with fine china tea cups and saucers, which was then quickly followed by the freshly brewed tea. So we sat for a moment drinking our tea and admiring the venue and then we see the 3 tiered silver serving trays being brought out to the group of four at the table beside us. It looked amazing and we listened intently as the waiter explained every piece from top to bottom. He even encouraged us to listen in and said he would test us all on what we remember later! Now the trays looked fabulous and the table beside us politely asked us to take some photos for them, the waiter overheard and immediately offered to take them, so between the waiter and myself we took photos on each guests phones for a lasting memory.
Next our champagne was brought out and then it was our turn to have our high tea served. Once again our waitress explained what the items were on each level and then left us to enjoy this 3 tier tray of bliss! The guests beside us offered to return the photo favour and took a few shots of us with the serving tray.
On the top tier was the savoury selection consisting of Crab and leek tarts and Ham and Cheese Croquettes. They were both very tasty and fresh. I particularly liked the croquettes which was soft and delicate texture that just melted in your mouth. My mum loved the little tarts and from the first bite she was oohing and aahing about how beautiful they were.
The second tier consisted of tomato, basil and buffalo mozzarella on an olive sour dough roll, smoked salmon and herb crepe roulade, cucumber and cream cheese on white bread and a Chicken and walnut tortilla. This was a cold selection but were very fresh and tasty. The chicken and walnut tortilla was the standout on this tier.
Then it was time to tackle the third and final tier which was wickedly indulgent! We were certainly starting to fill up our bellies but for some reason there is always room for dessert! Here in front of us was a bittersweet chocolate glazed éclair with espresso cream,
frangipani and rum tart with Victorian braised pears, pistachio financier with rock melon and crème fraiche, chocolate and Nutella layered cream cake and to end, the vanilla vodka jellies with sour cherries and basil seeds. Everything on this level was divine and once again freshly made. The vodka jelly shot was an interesting element to the high tea concept and I can tell you that the cherries had been well soaked in vodka as those little things packed a punch!
Now you may be thinking that this the end of our little affair with food? No sirree – the food affair continued on and even though our bellies were full, the offer of traditional raisin and butter-milk scones, homemade jam and whipped cream was far too tempting not to have! So fifteen minutes later our freshly baked scones arrived with jam and cream and of course we get yet another top up of tea. The scones were beautifully light and fluffy but we could only manage to eat one each. Rather than waste the other scones we were allowed to take the left overs home with us, as did the table beside us. The staff were more than happy for us to take them with us.
So the absolute final item on the menu is the burned caramel and pear sorbet which is served in an old style champagne glass. The pear and caramel flavours were interesting and I couldn’t make up my mind which flavour was more prominent. On first taste I noticed the pear but then it took on the caramel flavour, such an unusual combination but it worked – the sorbet was delicious.
The Waiting Room or rather the executive pastry chef at Crown – Roberto Molleman has re-invented the old British traditional high tea with a modern edgy version. Each item is not only creative but incredibly tasty. It still combines the traditional elements with cucumber sandwiches and scones along side the more progressive items, which I feel is a much better version of high tea. The amount is just right and you will not be left hungry and in fact it was substantial enough for me not to require my evening meal. Not only is tea a bottomless affair but you can also drink the Vittoria premium ‘Cinque Stella’ blend coffee, until your heart is content.
The food served is fresh and of high standard and arrived in a timely manner. The wait staff at The Waiting Room were all dressed impeccably and were polite, welcoming and freely engaged patrons with friendly sincere banter. We visited on a day where there were not a lot of people and due to this fact you would naturally expect the service to be of high standard and more personalized, which indeed, was the case.
What you need to know
High tea and coffee is served daily between twelve and five p.m
Bookings are essential
- $55 per person with premium Vittoria coffee or tea
- $65 per person with a delicious liqueur coffee*
- $75 per person with our signature Autumn Leaf Martini
The Waiting Room is also offering a winter special at the moment, where you will receive a glass of champagne with your high tea at an amazing price of $40 per person.
The Lobby bar of Crown Towers, Melbourne, Australia
- Ph +61 3 9292 5777 for bookings