High Tea at the Gatehouse High Tea Rooms, Parramatta NSW

Photographer: Petra O'Neill
High Tea at the Gatehouse High Tea Rooms Parramatta
High Tea at the Gatehouse High Tea Rooms Parramatta

The Gatehouse High Tea Rooms in Sydney’s Parramatta Park, is one of the six historic gatehouses dating back to 1870s, and offers high tea in a delightful garden setting.

With a choice of quaint, cosy rooms filled with antique furnishings, or the sandstone verandah, overlooking the colourful spring perennial and rose garden, this is the perfect setting for any high tea goer. We were warmly welcomed to the Tea Rooms by owner James Wilkinson, who led us to a beautifully set table, intertwined with fine china and freshly cut flowers, and offered a selection of bubbly to start – including Gapstead Coldstone Pinot Noir Chardonnay, King Valley Prosecco, Moet and Chandon.

There are several high tea options, all served on elegant three-tiered cake stands, including breakfast, savoury, traditional, vegan and a special high tea just for kids.

For the Morning Breakfast High Tea, guests can choose either a mushroom and ham or vegetable frittata, followed by buttery croissants, scones, raspberry jam and a thick dollop of house made cream. To finish, fresh seasonal fruits of plump blueberries, strawberries, kiwi fruit, red apple, watermelon and rock melon are drizzled with passionfruit puree and topped with granola and yoghurt.

The Traditional High Tea offers finger sandwiches of dill, cream cheese and thinly sliced cucumber, champagne ham with beetroot relish and rocket, and chicken combined with tarragon and celery, the herbs lending an added flavour. Savoury treats include mini quiches, either spinach with fetta, mushroom and thyme, or Lorraine, with olive fingers and fried haloumi. Scones are served with jam and cream and for sweets, mini lavender cup-cakes, earl grey tea biscuits, a praline ganache, lemon tart, and caramel and hazelnut slice, are all equally appealing.

For those who prefer savoury over sweet, the savoury high tea offers a choice of finger sandwiches (the same as the traditional) and scrumptious pumpkin, carrot and zucchini muffins, with cucumber yoghurt and salad, or hot savoury pastries including pulled pork, and spinach and ricotta triangles served with house made beetroot relish, followed by scones, jam and cream.

The vegan high tea is just as enticing, with a fresh salad of cherry tomatoes and mixed leaves, finger sandwiches including avocado, beetroot relish and lettuce, tasty vegan scones (impressively made without eggs, milk or butter), and the freshest fruit salad with mango sorbet to finish.

James then brought out a delightful high tea just for kids, with ham and cheese sandwiches, scones, fairy bread and sweets. Children would love it!

The standout of the high tea was the premium quality and freshness of the ingredients, resulting in all dishes tasting delicious, full of flavour and unique. Given the high tea is made to order, scones and muffins just out of the oven, were crisp on the outside and warm and fluffy on the inside, and the finger sandwiches were the freshest that I can remember.

The award winning premium teas are Silver Tip Teas and Tavalon, with a diverse offering including Turkish apple, Australian bushfire chai, granny’s garden, crimson punch, rooibos bilberry, and white and green tea. James explained the different varieties and how tea should be served to maximise the flavour. The quaint old-fashioned cups and saucers, I had violets on mine, are an eclectic collection that James has collected, that brought back fond memories of my great aunt’s china cabinet.

As we relaxed enjoying the soulful background music of Nora Jones, and the chirping of native birds in the trees nearby, we shared our afternoon with women celebrating a baby shower, and at the smaller tables, groups of friends and family, a venue equally suited for celebrations and get-togethers.

While there, make time to visit Parramatta Park, one of Australia’s most significant historic precincts, with a rose garden showcasing different rose types from around the world, monuments and buildings including Old Government House, that offer a fascinating insight into our colonial past, and be sure to say hi to James. He is a Parramatta local, who has a rich knowledge of the local history, living his whole live in and around Parramatta – and for the past 6 years has been operated the Gatehouse, which caters exclusively for high tea.

For a mix of old fashioned tradition against a backdrop of exquisite historical and botanical features, the Gatehouse High Tea Rooms makes for a Perfect High tea outing.


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Petra O'Neill

Petra O'Neill is a freelance travel writer and tour guide who has travelled by train and across oceans, paddled down rivers, hiked several of the world’s great walks and viewed wildlife up close, believing the best travel experiences are off the beaten track. She is a regular contributor to publications in Australia and South East Asia.

Articles by Petra