Losing my virgini-tea

I had never been to high tea before, but I’d seen enough instagram shots to have expectations of what it would be like. When one of my companions rocked up with a fat moustache and One Direction t-shirt I was worried about the turn it might take. Particularly given that I don’t like sweet food.

Thankfully the ladies in our party were not wearing One Direction clothes. And at the recommendation of our waiter we sat down to tea rather than coffee. Seems like things were back on track.

There are a handful of conflicting stories as to the roots of high tea. One source said it was called high tea because it was a classy affair (I’m guessing no One Direction shirts) another said the “high” in high tea evolved from the fact that afternoon tea was taken in comfortable low chairs and the earlier tea with food was taken at a table, hence the “high.”

There’s no question though that high tea has its roots in afternoon tea-drinking activities rather than morning. Yet here we are at 10.00am.

Chef Jason Atwal joins our waiter to bring four big stacks of food out. I know instantly, thanks to my instagram research, that this is no ordinary high tea. There are lady-biscuits with bikinis for crying out loud. It has QT written all over it and Atwal takes us through the mind-bending menu.

“The ham and cheese sandwich is not a ham and cheese sandwich,” he says. “It’s a sweet madeleine sponge with banana cream on the inside and peach jelly.”

He goes on for minutes. The donut isn’t sweet. It’s a cracked pepper and parmesan donut with rare roast beef and horseradish. The éclairs? Not eclairs. They feature a duck-liver parfait with pineapple jelly. The macaroon? A sun-dried tomato creation with cream cheese and basil leaf. Wow.

There’s scones that look like cup cakes, QT sweet lips with chocolate and toasted almond, thongs made of chocolate biscuit with peach mousse and orange glaze and little QT balls which ooze pina colada when you take a bite.

“And our little bikini ladies down the bottom are a lemonade shortbread,” Jason said as he wrapped up the menu. “All of this is made in-house by us. We have a pastry team and the Executive Chef (Greg Benney) look after the savoury side.”

Jason said the response has been good and they’ve already had lots of enquiries about hens and baby showers.

Our subdued eating frenzy lasts about an hour and we eventually add coffee to the table. The ‘sweet looks like savoury’ concept takes a few moments for your tastebuds to catch up. You can’t bite into a macaroon and taste sundried tomato without a micro-second of WTF going on. But it works. The food takes a classic high tea menu and throws it on its arse, in a quintessentially GC kinda way. Beachballs, thongs and bikini ladies, I mean, how can you go wrong?

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