High Tea

Passiontree Velvet, Macquarie Park

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Now that I’m back in Sydney, I’m retracing all the places I’ve missed since I left, all the new restaurants, cafes and shops. Finally getting a chance to sample all the food that inspired those drool worthy pictures that covered my Instagram feed over the years.

One place that has been showing up again and again is Macquarie Park. Back when I was in university, no one wanted to go to Macquarie University. It was out of the way and everything around it kind of sucked. There was nothing nearby to do or eat. It was just you, your university buildings and lots and lots of trees. Nothing against trees, but you know, you can’t eat em.

Well after a few short years, it looks like that has all changed. It seems like all the new hotness is opening up in Macquarie Park. The latest brands, exclusive stores and amazing restaurants. Because of that, naturally during my first week back in Sydney, I decided to pay Macquarie Park a visit. I was actually keen to try out KIN by us, which is just around the corner from the shopping centre. However, as it was a public holiday they were closed. I probably should have checked that before hand but as per usual, I didn’t. Luckily for me, there was still plenty of goodness on offer, and in particular Passiontree Velvet.

I wasn’t really looking out for this place. I kind of just stumbled on it while lost in Macquarie Centre. This is the first shopping centre that I’ve been to that has half floors. And the difference between a half floor and a full floor is five steps or a small ramp so needless to say, navigating this place sucks. So while I was wandering around looking for Aqua S, somewhere near the Aldi and the Coles, I stumbled across an island that happened to be Passiontree Velvet. To be honest, at the time I wasn’t really looking for it, but I was definitely happy to see it!

Passiontree Velvet is another fantastic export from Brisbane. Now all we need is MOS Burger to finally get exported! This modern looking cafe serves coffees, tea, light lunch meals and cakes. It’s not your typical cafe like The Coffee Club or the like, instead here, you’ll find croque monsieurs, baguettes and macarons, so it’s decidedly French. You can even settle here for a simple high tea with scones and Devonshire cream or the full deal with petit fours and ribbon sandwiches; in hindsight maybe Euro is more appropriate as opposed to French.

But what took my fancy were the cakes. Passiontree Velvet’s cabinets are filled with multiple scrumptious looking cakes, pastries and eclairs. Everything from your classics to more modern and fancy one.

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Instead of lunch, I decided to do the smart thing, and let cake be my lunch! For once, I decided to opt for some of the classics, instead of going for one of the crazy looking ones, like the log which looked like a forest with grass and green moss. Instead, here I went for the Pistachio and berry log ($7.50).

This was a simple treat but a tasty one. An airy and light eclair shell which had a really nice and strong eggy flavour to it, filled with a creamy but rather mild pistachio and nutty almond flavoured custard like fulling. This crispy but doughy like treat was covered in a pistachio and white chocolate which reinforced the nutty flavour of the pistachio and added that much needed sweetness that wasn’t really present in the custard filling. Finally there were a couple of strawberries and blueberries which added that contrasting sourness and really brought this whole pastry together.

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Every time I go to a patisserie, I always try to get a Lemon tart ($7.50). 1) because it’s one of my favourite pastries and 2) because it’s an absolute classic and any place that can’t do a solid lemon tart worries me. That is, I’ll think twice before trying something else there.

Luckily, that was not the case here. This lemon tart from Passiontree Velvet hit the spot perfectly. A perfectly smooth lemon curd with that strong citrus tang and that contrasting sweetness which cut right through it. This was paired with a rich and buttery tart and a sweet and fluffy meringue. This was the perfect balance between sweet, acidic tang and rich pastry.

There wasn’t anything special about this lemon tart but as a classic, its still the perfect treat after a long day with a strong cup of tea, not that I had a cup of tea or a long day, I guess. I mean, I was just shopping, which most people consider leisure or entertainment. But for me, thats a big day!

I’m a little disappointed I only sampled two desserts from Passiontree Velvet. Everything in their dessert cabinet, from the cakes to the macarons, looked so scrumptious. After sampling these two for myself, I think I might be dropping by again in the future for another cake or two!

Passiontree Velvet

Macquarie Centre, North Ryde

Website: passiontreevelvet.com

Facebook: facebook.com/passiontreevelvet/

Instagram: @PassiontreeVelvet

Opening hours:

Monday to Wednesday and Friday

9:30am to 6:00pm

Thursday

9:30am to 9:00pm

Saturday

9:00am to 6:00pm

Sunday

10:00am to 6:00pm

Passiontree Velvet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Cafe Societea, Griffith

As a surprise I was taken out to Cafe Societea in Griffith for their amazing high tea. I had been eyeing it for some time, reading some articles about it but never got around to going there and trying it for myself. I guess, I needed a bit of a special occasion for a high tea trip and finally an occasion came.

High tea was $45 per person and each person gets their own stand and unlimited tea and coffee.

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Apparently you do need to book well in advance for Cafe Societea’s high tea, I’m not 100% on that because I didn’t organise this, but that is definitely what I’ve been told. It definitely makes sense though, because this place is tiny, it’s more of an alley way (like, there are shops, hairdressers, chiropractors on the other side and you pretty much walk through the cafe to get to them) with a tiny kitchen on the side, the team at Cafe Societea have pretty much turned the walk way into a funky little place with awesome and quirky high tea related decor. You would think that this would be tacky and it wouldn’t work but for some reason it all came together really well and just looked amazing.

The owners and staff at Cafe Societea were so nice and adorable! The lady owner is really into the whole thing and makes the experience really fantastic and personalised. It looks like a small family business and they treat everyone like their best friends. It’s really great and she really loves taking pictures so if you don’t like pictures, it might get a little much but she’s just so nice that you can’t really get upset about it.

Anyways, onwards to the food. First up the different layers.

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First tray, petite little sandwiches. All the trays were decorated with rose and flower petals. I really liked it, just those little things that make the whole experience really nice. The petals gave the plates nice colour and reminded me of a warmer time, like spring in Canberra instead of the cold Canberra winters outside.

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Our second tray included a couple of savouries and our freshly made scones, house made blackberry jam and some creams. I loved how the cream was brought out in these super tiny tea cups and plates, it was absolutely adorable. I did notice that not everyone got them, some people just got little heart shaped bowls and other cute things like that so we felt pretty lucky!

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And finally, the top layer with our bite size sweet treats. Everything was just presented so well, I felt bad taking it all apart and eatings things. It just looked really nice up their with the floral tea plates and roses and petals. But of course at the same time, everything smelt really amazing, so I couldn’t help myself, I started digging in.

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First up, the Freshly made scones with cream and house made blackberry jam. As these were fresh out of the oven and still lovely and warm, we decided to start here. The scones were soft and smelt absolutely amazing but the best part was the jam. It was super sticky, not like store bought jams that are quite solid and you can just spoon out. This was sweet, super fruity and full of jammy goodness with nice chunks of blackberry here and there. Together with the fluffy cream and beautifully made scones, every mouthful was amazing. What a way to start the whole experience.

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We started on savouries and first up, was the Smoked salmon and cream cheese finger sandwiches. The sandwich was soft and fluffy with a very generous layer of creamed cheese, the little piece of dill also added some nice flavours to it all. This sandwich was really nice and refreshing after the richness of the scone jam. Basic little finger sandwich but perfectly done.

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Second up, the Crispy bacon, scrambled eggs and cherry tomato muffin. Another very simple little treat but again it all just came together really well and tasted amazing. The creamy and fluffy scrambled eggs with a crispy piece of bacon and bit of cherry tomato for lightness and freshness. In the end of the day, it was just a petite bacon and egg roll but for some reason, it was a lot more than the sum of its parts. Actually, bacon and egg rolls are pretty amazing on their own, so it makes sense that it can’t go wrong here!

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Next up, another savoury treat, the Creamy thousand island prawns with a tomato and spinach quiche. This was really nice too. Lovely fresh prawns with thousand island sauce and a lovely creamy and cheesy quiche with a splash of freshness here and there from the spinach and tomato. Weirdly enough, together the creamy and citrusy prawns worked really well with the eggy quiche. Nice little bit of seafood.

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More savouries, this time sandwiches! Cucumber and lettuce on buttery soft bread. Lovely fresh, fluffy white bread with a thick later of creamy butter and a little bit of cucumber for freshness and crunch. These were nice. There wen’t overly flavoursome like our other bite size treats so far but at this point, I was pretty happy to have something as a break from all the richness. They were simple but delicious and very refreshing. I think the two sandwiches may have been slightly different but I don’t quite remember, the other one might have been buttery goodness with a bit of chicken. Nevertheless, both were delicious!

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More savouries! Tangy smoked salmon with creamy cheese, dill and pine nuts. Another simple yet quite pretty looking and very tasting bite size treat. A lovely and fresh piece of smoked salmon wrapped around a generous glob of cream cheese and a splash of lemony oil and to top it all off some pine nuts and a bit of fresh dill. These different elements worked really well together, the softness of the cheese and salmon against the crunch from the pine nuts. The rich flavours brought altogether by a little bit of tanginess form the lemony oil. None of the treats for Cafe Societea’s high tea are overly complicated or intricate but the various simple yet rich ingredients worked perfectly together.

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Just a couple more savouries to go, Chicken and creamy avocado with sprouts on crispy bread. These lovely little treats were fantastic. The crunchiness of the wholemeal bread coupled with flavoursome and moist chicken strips with creamy mashed avocado. This was topped with some baby sprouts, which gave it a lovely bit of freshness.

Probably not my favourite savoury from the very long list but still absolutely fantastic. I really like that you only get a little bit of everything. You don’t get full until the very end when you have had a chance to try everything and it is all delicious because you don’t get too much of it and become bored of the flavours or textures. Cafe Societea has managed to keep everything really simple and none of it seemed overly pretentious at all. With that in mind, Cafe Societea managed to have a lot of variety which I really appreciated, everything was very different in texture and taste and I was a big fan of that.

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Another simple little savoury treat, Beetroot and dill on bread. This wasn’t much more than the description yet it was still lovely. Some creamy beetroot with a little slice of bread and some dill for extra flavour. Who knew these few simple ingredients could work so well together and be so lovely!

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Our final savoury for the day, Creamy and soft doughy pastry with spinach and sausage. I have no idea what this is. Its not quite a quiche and I think its cheese but it didn’t harden like cheese normally does, instead it was soft and doughy. This was probably my favourite savoury dish here and I did notice that they serve them on their own! I saw a whole slab of it in the display cabinet whilst leaving after high tea and started to get hungry again! I would definitely come back to Cafe Societea just to get this dish on its own. It was so fluffy, soft and had a bit of doughy chewiness to it, the spinach and sausage was a nice addition for some extra flavour and texture.

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On to our sweets, first up a Chocolate mousse filled vanilla cupcakes. This was a lovely little cupcake with fluffy chocolate mousse to bring some nice moisture to the cake. This probably wasn’t the best cupcake I’ve ever had but it was very pretty with the live rose on top! To be honest, the savouries here were a bit better than the sweets. The sweets were nice but very basic which was a bit of a let down after the wonderful savouries!

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Our second treat, a Chocolate brownie. This was a pretty small serving hence the super close up. But it was just enough to give you a taste and make you want more. Also had a generous dusting or cocoa powder or Milo, I think it was Milo, it had that crunchy Milo texture to it that I loved when having it in milk and it had that huge layer on top. I would spoon some Milo in milk, mix it up a little bit and scoop out all the crunchy bits on top and eat them and then I would repeat! In hindsight I think I didn’t get enough milk growing up.

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More sweets, this time a Fluffy sponge with custard and berries. This was nice, still not as nice as the savouries though. There was a lovely base layer of sponge and on top a bit of custard. Wasn’t the smoothest of creamiest custard out there but still really nice. This was all topped off with some fresh berries which brought a lot of sourness to balance out the overwhelming sweetness.

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And officially, the last dessert for our high tea, a Vanilla macaron. Nice little petite macaron, very cute and perfect looking. Solid amount of feet, generous amount of creamy, delicious filling and a crispy shell with lovely softness inside. Flavour wise, I couldn’t quite tell what it was, so I assumed vanilla. So overall, texture was spot on, flavour could definitely be increased but there are times where relief from rich flavours is welcome, this was actually one of them!

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And lastly, a Custard and puff pastry with strawberries. We were given this because we were celebrating a special occasion. I was told that the lovely owner actually asked if it was a special occasion when the booking was made. She didn’t mention what she was going to do or anything but when we got there and were finishing off our high tea, she came out with this lovely custard and puff pastry with a candle on top. It was a lovely little surprise. Really sweet and personalised. The pastry was also quite nice!

This was an amazing experience, I mean sure you can get better tasting foods, pastries and petite fours at other pastry shops and high tea places but the overall experience here beats any other high tea place I’ve ever been to. The decor, the staff, the food and variety it just all works so well and makes the overall experience something special. I absolutely adore this place, I would recommend it to anybody. It is slightly on the pricer side, at $45 per person but its worth it.

Oh, and if you don’t feel like high tea, Cafe Societea also serves standard breakfast and lunch dishes.

Café Societea on Urbanspoon

Swissotel, Sydney

Last restaurant from my Easter spring clean but not my final post (dessert coming up next!)

Hitting up buffet high tea at Swissotel, just posting the savoury goods first. Good old party pies, pastries, tarts and FINGER SANDWICHES! Ahh I love finger sandwiches soo much, I wish my work place would carter them more often – but noooo, we are all about sausage rolls.

There was everything from salmon and cream cheese bagels to butter and salami sandwiches, chicken and cucumber sandwiches, creamy egg, salmon, cream cheese, caper on sourdough, sliders! There were SLIDERS!

I do recall the sandwiches were much better than the hot foods that they offered. I remember the mushroom arancini balls were extremely flavourless – couldn’t taste any mushrooms at all, as if that wasn’t bad enough, it was also bland – a little bit of salt would have helped. They had vegetarian quiches and savoury ham ones. The vegetarian ones weren’t labelled but they tasted like capsicum (not a massive fan of capsicum so I didn’t love these) but they were also quite dense. I think the ham ones weren’t much better either. They also had party pies (forgot to take a picture, sorry). These were nice, can’t go wrong here – nice, warm and plenty of meat.

So the hot food was a little disappointing, luckily the sandwiches were fabulous. The varity was fantastic, they had probably 7- 10 different sandwiches. I remember enjoying the salmon and cream cheese bagels, these were really fresh and they cut them in half – that was nice cos bagels can be a little sickening after a while. There was also a butter and salami sandwich, this was really nice too! Nothing like a little bit of salami, yum yum. The chicken and cucumber sandwiches were refreshing and light, the chicken was still moist even though the sandwiches were just sitting out on the plate. The creamy egg, salmon, cream cheese, caper on sourdough was nice but the sourdough was a little tough and really dense – didn’t get seconds for this one. My favourite sandwich was the creamy mayo chicken with lettuce. The mayo really made a difference, kept the chicken and bread from drying out and added creaminess to the whole sandwich. I probably sacrificed a couple of sweet pastries to get seconds and thirds of this sandwich. I think there were a couple other sandwiches too but I can’t remember.

They also had similar fillings but in different types of bread, e.g. they had the salmon and cream cheese in sandwich bread and in bagels. I found the change in bread type made a big difference to how the sandwiches tasted, I definitely preferred sandwich bread over bagels, sourdough or buns – I found these other bread types made the sandwiches really dense and too filling.

Also added a couple of images of our plates and our tea. I remember we got a peppermint tea, a coffee drink of some kind (that was me,I didn’t love it, but I’m not really a coffee person and somehow thought this was going to be a good idea) and I think the last one is an english breakfast. I ended up having a lot of the peppermint tea. It was really nice and soothing – really helped with all the sugary pastries and cakes.

Wanted to add a side note, we notice some people getting some special side orders, we couldn’t figure out if this was part of the buffet or if you had to pay extra (and we didn’t want to ask). Found out afterwards that you can order two extra dishes per person as a part of your buffet. That lady with the spaghetti bolognese suddenly makes so much sense!

Check out the sweet dishes!

Crossroads Bar on Urbanspoon

Swissotel, Sydney

Final post from my Easter spring cleaning.

Some images of all the desserts that we had! From mousses to cakes, chocolates to strawberries. Everything was yummy, sweet and delicious! The cakes were just simply too nice to cut into! There were also lamingtons (possibly because we were quite close to Australia Day), croissants and the good old chocolate fountain (So I kinda forgot to take a picture of that).

I remember liking the sweets in the cups the best, they were both mousses. The pink one was a raspberry, strawberry mouse, it was nice and sweet, the fresh strawberry on top was really nice – it gave the dessert cup a bit of sourness to balance out the richness! The yellow one was a mango mouse and it was absolutely delicious, it was really fresh and light.

Check out the savoury dishes!

Crossroads Bar on Urbanspoon

The Westin, Sydney

Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea Party and The Westin Heritage Afternoon Tea for a friends 21st

$45 with unlimited tea and coffee or +$10 for a ‘Drink Me’ cocktail and $65 for a glass of R de Ruinart champagne

The Lobby Bar & Lounge on Urbanspoon