Our Dixie Chicks weekend began with our checking-in at the Burswood Holiday Inn. We then headed straight to The Atrium Restaurant, where we’d booked High Tea for two. Jac has been keen to have High Tea ever since I read about in online, and so this was the perfect opportunity for us to check it out.
The tea sandwiches were (L-R): Ham and Gherkin Butter, Egg Mayonnaise, Smoked Salmon and Cucumber with Chive Cream Cheese (these descriptions are from the Burswood Entertainment Complex website). Jac is very partial to sandwiches and was looking forward to these. Unfortunately, they were bland, so very disappointingly bland. This was made worse by the fact that they had been refrigerated prior to serving. The ham and gherkin ones were not too bad (a lucky save by the gherkins, I think), but the egg and cucumber with chive cream cheese ones were quite tasteless. If there were chives in the cream cheese, they were undetectable, and the cucumber was bendy rather than crisp, a telltale sign the sandwiches had been made well, toooooooo well, in advance. I ended up opening the cucumber and cream cheese sandwich and seasoning it with salt and pepper. Jac thought the bread crusts should’ve been cut off more evenly. All in all, rather average sandwiches and very disappointing.
The tea was good, anyway. We each had a pot of Elmstock English Breakfast tea. Each pot for one was enough for about three cups, which was excellent. Edit: As you can see from this photo, my pouring skills leave much to be desired!
With the sandwiches came a platter of assorted cakes and pastries. Apologies for the dodgy photo.
While I was still fiddling with salt and pepper and tut-tutting the bland sandwiches, Jac was tucking eagerly into one of the mini cheese cakes. Now these were lovely. Jac especially liked them because the biscuit base was perfect. To paraphrase her explanation of cheese cake biscuit base perfection, a cheese cake comes with a base – but you don’t want that base to be too hard or too thick – if you have to saw through the base (it doesn’t break easily with a push of the fork), or you end up with more base than cake in every mouthful, there’s something wrong with the cheese cake (yes, a dud base!). In this case, the base really was just perfect.
Our hot scones arrived at this time (described at the Burswood website as “Freshly baked Raisin and Apple Scones with Clotted Cream and Organic Strawberry Preserve”), and so I had to delay tucking into the cakes and pastries and eat my scone while it was still warm. One scone had raisins sticking out of it, one scone had a more plain (and less pimply) appearance. The scones had not been made with a scone cutter, and they didn’t look at all like scones. Still, they smelled deliciously like scones. Many of you will know I deliberately avoid eating sweet things most of the time, but since we were at High Tea, I made an exception (a few exceptions, really!). I ate my scone with strawberry jam and cream and it went down very nicely. I couldn’t believe how much cream they gave us! Who on earth would consume so much cream in a sitting? I mean, that was a huuuuge bowlful. I’m sure many people who love cream would dream of being able to get through mountains of clotted cream, but in reality I doubt it happens very often.
Now this was delicious! Sponge roll with a layer of hazelnuts and chocolate/hazelnut cream. I commented to Jac that the cake looked like it had been sliced from a yule log, which led to a discussion about yule logs and yuletide and Christmas and making log bark markings on chocolate with a fork (Jac wasn’t familiar with the concept of the yule log, you see).
The next item I tried was this multi-layered cake/slice thingy (maybe a pastry chef could help me out – my vocabulary on this subject is pitiful). The top layer was like a dark chocolate cream (ganache, maybe?), followed by a layer of coffee cream, then sponge, then more chocolate, more sponge, more coffee cream and sponge again. Shame about the finger print on the top of the chocolate icing. Still, this was my favourite out of all the sweeties.
I’m not a big fan of plums (or stone fruit in general), but this plum danish was lovely. The plums were soft and easy to eat with a fork, not too sweet, not too tart, and there was a delicious layer of custard hidden underneath them on top of the pastry. You couldn’t see the custard, but you could certainly taste it – it was just gorgeous.
When I made our booking for 3:30pm (with our hotel check-in at 3pm), I was aware that High Tea was served only from 2:30 to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday. But I didn’t realise we’d get booted out (well, asked very politely to leave) at 4:30pm. Oh well. We paid and went for a walk through the casino, which I always enjoy. I just love all the flashing colourful lights of the gaming machines, and the sound of the spinning roulette and money wheels. Hmmm, I’m in the mood to watch Ocean’s Eleven again. After a drink at one of the bars, we returned to our room for more drinks and a bit of a relax (for Jac that means kicking off her shoes and cracking open a beer; for me that means kicking off my shoes and sitting on the bed in my undies with the TV remote and channel surfing). And of course after some relaxing, we got freshened up and beautified for the concert.
So would I recommend High Tea at The Atrium? It was pleasant enough, I suppose, but the sandwiches were definitely unsatisfactory. The scones were nice but I’m sure you could get a very good Devonshire tea elsewhere. The cakes/pastries were nice, but nothing you’d specially make a High Tea booking for. The sandwiches and cakes/pastries were served to us from the fridge (Jac’s theory is that the high tea cakes and pastries vary according to what’s leftover from The Atrium’s buffet – I’m not saying this is what happens – personally it wouldn’t bother me as long as they didn’t look or taste like leftovers – but was that fingerprint on the chocolate icing a clumsy chef today or a grabby buffet customer from yesterday? I did eat it, so obviously it didn’t bother me that much) – so you may want to allow plenty of time to sit, chat and sip your tea while everything comes closer to room temperature. But allow plenty of time so you don’t get chucked out before you’ve finished. But really, who would go out to dine at a restaurant if they knew they would have to sit and wait for their food to lose its fridge-coldness? Maybe the scones need to come out first, and while the sandwiches and cakes/pastries are left aside out of the fridge not yet served to the customer, the customer can be tucking into fresh, hot scones, blissfully unaware of the refrigeration stage of the proceedings. But of course, even at room temperature, the sandwiches would still be bland (I guess you can tell I was seriously peeved about the sandwiches!).
Hmmm, I haven’t answered my own question. No – I would not recommend it. I’m not unhappy for having tried it out – it was fun – I enjoyed the experience and occasion of having high tea. It’s fun pouring tea into a cup from a teapot if you’re a tea bag girl like I am, and it’s fun pouring milk into your cup from a milk jug if you usually pour your milk straight from a carton. It’s a novelty drinking tea with a cup and saucer (I must sound like such a barbarian, but what I mean is, I don’t tend to drink tea from proper teacups and saucers – I just drink out of a mug like most
other barbarians people). It’s nice having wee sandwiches, cakes and pastries served to you on shiny silver platters, and discovering what each one is (Ooooh, hazelnuts! Mmmm, a perfect cheese cake biscuit base! Yuuuuuum, a secret layer of custard!). But I won’t be hurrying back to do it again. While there are worse things you could spend $18.50 per head on, there are probably many better things. If anyone knows somewhere else we can get High Tea in Perth though, please let me know!
I’ve run out of time tonight – stay tuned for another DCX Weekend food post tomorrow evening.