The seasonal menu change on Level 36 at the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney is a high tea experience with little nods to the cooler Autumn months ahead.
Head Pastry Chef, Kumiko Endo, has launched her Autumn menu so High Tea Society recently paid a visit to see what’s new. Kumiko joined Shangri-La Sydney in 2022 to reinvent the high tea experience on Level 36. She originally began her pastry career in Japan where she teamed Japanese cooking techniques with seasonal produce to highlight ingredients when they are at their peak. Moving to Australia, Kumiko joined the team at Sydney institution, Tetsuya’s, before heading south to Melbourne’s famed Attica.
We have visited Level 36 several times and their high tea is served alongside the best view of Sydney there is. Nowhere else can you sip your sparkling wine while floating high above the best harbour in the world overlooking both the Opera House and the harbour bridge. It’s most definitely an impressive view while you wait for your high tea to be served.
The wait wasn’t too long with the attentive staff delivering the stand to the table shortly after our arrival. Seated right beside the floor to ceiling windows (don’t look directly down!) with the early Autumn sunshine streaming in we decided to break with tradition and eat the delicate sweets first, so they didn’t melt in the heat.
The sweet options are always where highly skilled pastry chefs shine, and today it was no different. Kumiko and her team have created a delicate, beautifully presented assortment. The choux in the mini Paris-Brest was textbook perfect, light and crisp. Pumpkin was an interesting choice for the silky-smooth diplomat, it added an earthy sweetness to the dish.
The caramelised apple tart with almond frangipane and a stewed apple disk on top was lightly spiced with warming Autumn spices. The crisp tart shell was well balanced with the softness of the apples.
The muscat grape short cake was quite surprising. It looked like it would be quite dense, but it was exceptionally light layers of cake. The freshness from the green grapes helped to lighten it even more. We’ve never seen green grapes used this way in a high tea before and it was really enjoyable.
Chestnuts, chocolate and sesame – who would have thought that mix would be so great? A deliciously moist, dense chestnut cake topped with a dome of chocolate mousse and a cassis gel centre with a sprinkling of sesame seeds on top. Just wow. The tang of the gel perfectly offsets the richness of the rest.
While the rest of the menu had hints of Japanese influence, it was interesting to see a Moroccan spiced beef cheek slider as a savoury option. That said though it was perfectly tender and a generous amount to balance out the brioche bun. The saffron mayo added a delicious dollop of creaminess that was a little more decadent than just a regular mayonnaise.
There are two types of smoked fish on this menu. A house smoked tuna open sandwich and a smoked salmon wrap. Starting with the wrap, it was enjoyable but it tasted very “green”. A spinach wrap, mixed leaves and basil pesto will definitely up your vegetable content for the day! The house cured tuna was a generous piece which was cured perfectly. Rich and meaty with a refreshing zing from the desert lime mayo it was the better of the two fish options.
The star of the savoury dishes was the pumpkin tart. The roast pumpkin pieces added a firmness to the pumpkin puree while the stracciatella cheese added a creamy, slightly salty element. The sprinkle of puffed grain on top provided some crunch to balance the softness of the dish.
The scones were a generous serve with two medium-sized scones per person. Served warm they were great examples of what a scone should be. Beware of the house-made jam though. It was quite runny. Good luck to those of you who are on the “jam first” team. Those of us who prefer cream first have the advantage of building up a little well to stop the jam running down our chin!
Overall, the Autumn menu on Level 36 at the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney is a wonderful experience. There is a hint of Kumiko’s Japanese influence running through it with slightly heavier Autumnal flavours for the season.
36 at the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney High Tea Menu:
- Moroccan spiced beef cheek – brioche bun, braised beef cheek, kale, crispy eschalots, saffron mayo
- Pumpkin tart – pumpkin purée, stracciatella cheese, roast pumpkin, puffed grain, lemon balm
- House smoked tuna – schiacciata bread, smoked tuna, desert lime mayo, Davidson plum shiso
- Atlantic smoked salmon – spinach wrap, tarragon citrus dressing, mix leaf, basil pesto
- Hazelnut pumpkin Paris-Brest – pumpkin diplomat, maple Chantilly, candied hazelnut
- Chestnut chocolate bite – Valrhona chocolate mousse, cassis jelly, chestnut cake
- Muscat grape short cake – mascarpone lime cream, vanilla genoises, Chartreuse syrup
- Caramelised apple tart – almond frangipane, ginger crème fraiche, wattle seed sable
High Tea Sydney – find more experiences
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Reviews for this venue:
- 30 July 2020: High Tea at Altitude, Shangri-La Hotel Sydney
- 31 July 2018: Blu Bar High Tea at Shangri-La Hotel Sydney
- 4 April 2017: High Tea at Shangri-La Hotel Sydney
- 6 August 2014: High Tea at the Shangri La Hotel Sydney
- 30 March 2013: High Tea at the Shangri La Sydney
- 2 June 2011: Wickedly Sweet High Tea Shangri-La Hotel Sydney