It’s not everyday you have a pianist serenading you on a grand piano. Or beautiful patterned Wedgwood bone china laid out. It’s little touches like these that make the weekend high tea at the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins a stylish affair.
Served in the luxurious Sofi’s Lounge, with its high-vaulted ceilings, a mixture of plush sofas and felt and leather-backed seats, there’s a long table set with sandwiches and other savouries to the left, and an extensive dessert buffet in the centre of the room.
One thing that is obvious from the outset is that the Sofitel remains a popular choice for high tea. The venue is booked out on the Saturday afternoon we are there, and there’s more than the usual number of men and children also enjoying the savouries and petit fours.
On arrival, we’re offered a glass of sparkling wine and are given the choice of 15 black, white and herbal teas to choose from.
For those wanting a bit more sparkling with their high tea, it’s an extra $10 for a second glass, or $19 for free-flowing sparkling throughout the service.
The table is set out with the aforementioned Wedgwood, including a sugar bowl with white and brown sugar cubes and silver tongs. There are even sachets of natural sweetener available – obviously in a bid to cater for all customers, but the sachets do detract slightly from the beautiful setting.
One other slight disappointment is the individual glass teapots that the tea is served in. While not out of place in any other high tea, I wonder why the Sofitel has chosen not to use the Wedgwood teapots instead, especially when the glass teapot is resting on a Wedgwood saucer.
These two small points aside, the extensive savoury and dessert menu means my companion and I spend the next two-and-a-half hours sampling as much as we can of what’s on offer.
The menu – which is all made in-house – has undergone an extensive overhaul since we were last here in 2014, and there’s a lot to like.
In particular, the croque-monsieur is the stand-out savoury dish, and the mini crushed-egg roll was very more-ish.
The chocolate and Cointreau tartlet was very rich and had a great jaffa after taste, and the tartness in the lemon creme brulee was on point.
A special mention goes to the fruit scones, which are hands-down the best scones I had ever had at a high tea. And the lemon curd, which has become quite a popular scone topping, was the perfect accompaniment.
There’s not one, but two chocolate fountains – a milk chocolate fountain and a white chocolate fountain – with an assortment of fruits and lollies to dip in.
The Sofitel also caters for just about every dietary requirement, and makes up special cake stands for vegetarians, vegans, the gluten intolerant and even pescatarians.
Although the buffet service is non-traditional for high tea, the Sofitel remains one of the top Melbourne picks for this reviewer.
However, if it’s a more traditional service you’re after, the Sofitel also offers a weekday afternoon tea with a modified menu (fewer savouries desserts, no chocolate fountains) that is served on a three-tier cake stand.
Sofi’s Lounge, Sofitel Melbourne High Tea Buffet Menu:
- Roast beef, rocket and horseradish wrap
- Cucumber and chive cream cheese
- Free range crushed egg, mayonnaise and shiso cress
- Artisan smoked leg ham with tomato relish
- Tasmanian smoked salmon with black pepper, dill and lemon cream
- Pumpkin savoury scone
- Mini beef pies
- Mini quiche
Cakes and pastries
- Chocolate and Cointreau tartlet
- Chocolate turron
- Panna cotta
- Opera slice
- Strawberry tartlet
- Chocolate and hazelnut profiteroles
- Lemon creme brulee
- Berry crumble mousse
- Banana cake
- Assorted macarons
- Milk chocolate and white chocolate fountains
- Freshly baked fruit scones with cream, strawberry preserve and homemade lemon curd
Reviews for this venue:
- 1 December 2018: Escher X nendo: Monocromatic High Tea at the Sofitel Melbourne
- 23 June 2014: High Tea at the Sofitel Melbourne