I absolutely adore a High Tea.
Recently, when I was enthusiastically talking through some of my High Tea experiences, Michelle from the The High Tea Society asked if I would be interested in reviewing some of our very own local experiences.
Well, of course that was something I would love to do, and following is a exert from my first review at the five star Primus Hotel Sydney.
The Wilmot High Tea, Primus Hotel.
Unparalleled grandeur for the social butterfly or discerning gentleman; in the centre of Sydney’s CBD Ryan Hong re-imagines the High Tea, taking the Primus Hotel to the next tier.
From the moment you enter, through the striking red marble pillared entrance into the decadent Art Deco atrium, to the very last bite of your indulgent feast, you are taken on a journey of luxurious 1930s glamour.
Launched in December 2015, 76 years after the iconic Sydney Water Board headquarters, the restoration sensitively maintains the original aesthetic of architect H.E. Budden & Mackey but applies a contemporary twist using modern furnishings and fittings throughout, the lobby bar, The Wilmot, all-day dining restaurant, to the exclusive resident LA style rooftop pool bar, the Primus experience will definitely not disappoint.
With effortless style you are warmly greeted as you enter the grand lobby and guided to regal, velvet chez lounges in the atrium. We were welcomed, politely offered sparkling or still water and asked if champagne was on the agenda for the afternoon. After a definite yes, we sat back, soaked up the glorious atmosphere and listened to the thoughtfully selected ambient music. Nitian, the host, with his polished service and theatrical hospitality, left us with ‘let the fun begin’; creating an energy of excitement as we were left to peruse the menus.
Your eyes are immediately drawn to the open kitchen where you can see executive chef, Ryan Hong and pastry chef, Andrea Liu crafting their gastronomy feast.
The beverage list is a perfect compliment to the exotic surroundings. Each element has a story and we were told how Gabrielle, the food and beverage manager, had carefully selected Melbourne’s Tea Forte range, containing a selection of 10 flavours ranging from Moroccan Mint to an African Solstice. We also scanned the expansive selection of hedonistic cocktails; from a Poinsettia with Cointreau, cranberry, Veuve Clicquot, to the1939 Absolut citron, lychee and cassis, named after the year the building was constructed.
Only in its second week and still a little subdued, you could only imagine the room filled with finely dressed ladies and dapper gentlemen. If you wanted a more intimate setting, hidden in a corner out of the atrium, you could request to sit in the round booths in the restaurant, The Wilmot or the lobby bar.
We selected The Wilmot experience from Ryan’s selection of High Teas. For those looking for a more exotic menu, the Zen High Tea might tickle your fancy and for those looking for something heartier, the G’N’Tea is the perfect feast.
As the art deco tiered cake stand was placed on our coffee table, you could see the inspiration drawn from the buildings heritage re-imagined.
From understated but sophisticated Schonwald German porcelain plates and Studio William cutlery, we started with the savoury selection’s smoked salmon, cream fraiche and lemon. The grilled smoked brioche was flavoursome and fluffy and the cream fraiche was light, complimenting the fresh salmon. Next the curried egg and cucumber on multigrain was perfectly moist and an ideal precursor to the pork and fennel sausage roll that was crisp, flaky and reminiscent of the taste of traditional ‘homemade’ rolls. We ended our savoury experience with the pumpkin tart, with its short crust and different textures of pumpkin puree, squares and seeds.
Next was the far from traditional lemon and white chocolate scones. With whipped cream, rhubarb, strawberry and gin jam, the biscuit-like scones were a perfect segue to the sweet selection, allowing you to ramp up the sweetness to your hearts content from the cute jars provided.
From the sweet selection we started with the beautifully deconstructed vanilla cheesecake with charred pineapple, with perfect flavours and pairing of textures – it was one of my favourites. Then the passion fruit praline and popcorn mouse, which was a combination of rich chocolate decadence and a well balanced light custard and fruit tart.
As we came to our last two treats, the sugar high was kicking in and the inner child was coming out. We finished with the petit wagon wheel; with dehydrated raspberries and raspberry puree burst and the gooey salted caramel fudge. Delicious.
We were lucky to chat with Ryan in the Kitchen and talked through his inspirations, unique style, favourite dishes and future plans for the menu. Ryan was looking forward to creating a unique experience at the Primus and as time goes on he would evolve and play with the menu catering to the beautiful space and environment.
When I asked about the G’N’Tea menu and how it came about, Ryan jokingly said that it started as an attempt to infuse tea with gin and that it evolved to him infusing foods. Then he thought, why don’t I create something different and that was how the G’N’Tea was created.
The high tea experience takes you on a journey back to the indulgence of the 1930’s and the attention to detail of the staff was phenomenal. I have already booked in to sample the Zen and G’N’Tea menus, as I know they too will be a culinary journey one must enjoy.
$45 food only, including tea and coffee
$55 beverage choice, including a glass of Chandon sparkling or a premium beer
$65 premium selection, including a glass of Veuve Clicquot or a premium cocktail
Gluten free available if ordered in advance
Available everyday from 3 to 5pm.
To book email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more on the different menus available and other delicious High Teas from around the world, go to The High Tea Society.
Special thank you to Tara Castellan, wearing gorgeous florals from Graziela, who helped style the shoot.