The Sweet Life

By
Casey Warrener
Added
24 September, 2015

Casey from the Cooked.com.au team swung by The Hotel Windsor in Melbourne to try out their new menu à la Philippa Sibley. This is her account of an indulgent high tea in the history-laden dining room…

We sit down, sip champers, and chitchat for 15 minutes, before being presented with a tower of treats. Our waiter instructs that we are to start with the savoury canapés, move to the sarnies, and finish at the sweet centre. With a grin I enquire, “Could we not just jump to dessert?” His answer is a very serious “no”.

You see at The Hotel Windsor, high tea is serious business. Their dining room is an institution and tradition reigns supreme. People come for the heritage experience – to sit amid the opulent decor, select a top-notch pot of tea (the Grey De Luxe is divine), and enjoy the sweet vintage vibes.

As we nibble on egg-mayo ribbon sandwiches flavoured with Dijon and dill, Adi Halim, Director of the Hotel Windsor, informs us of the changing crowds. It's no longer just retirees revelling in their Hotel Windsor stay, or the political gatherings of the past (there was once an underground bar and grill that acted as a meeting place for pollies, with a side entrance for covert arrivals and a stairway up to the rooms… you get the gist).

These days, a visit to the dining room finds an assortment of people around the white-clothed tables and low-lying lounges, including groups of young professionals, friends and hens’ gatherings. And so it was decided the formula needed refreshing and a bit of a zhuzh, to cater to the expanding demographic and improve upon quality (because we all know Melburnians have exacting standards when it comes to eating).

Enter Philippa Sibley. The Hotel Windsor enlisted the renowned pastry chef to give their menu a lift, which of course meant adding exceptional cakes. Where the scones were originally poured from a packet, they're now made from scratch – and it shows. With fruit-studded and vanilla versions, these bad boys are definitely a highlight, served with dollops of Windsor jam, lemon curd and clotted cream.

Dreamy desserts follow, including a rose-scented rhubarb, burnt caramel and almond crumble, and – a personal favourite – the creamy cardamom honey parfait. The rest of the afternoon is spent floating on a sugary, caffeinated cloud.

If you can't make it to The Hotel Windsor to sample their Philippa Sibley-stamped fare, why not plan a high tea at home? The principal benefits of hosting your own:

1. As much cream as is needed, and

2. Dessert first if you please.

For inspiration checkout the below round up of fine finger foods, which includes recipes from Philippa’s PS Desserts.

TEA TIME TREATS TO IMPRESS

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