The Nutcracker High Tea at the InterContinental Sydney

The Nutcracker High Tea at the InterContinental Sydney - supplied photo
The Nutcracker High Tea at the InterContinental Sydney - supplied photo

In partnership with the Australian Ballet, the InterContinental Sydney is offering High Tea especially curated for Peter Wright’s Nutcracker ballet performed at the Sydney Opera House.

Set during Christmas Eve in 19th century Imperial Russia, when wooden chests from faraway lands brought tea and exotic sweets and spices, Tchaikovsky’s classic brings a fantasy world with the Sugar Plum Fairy, chocolates and candies to life.

The InterContinental Sydney is offering a High Tea to experience the tasty treats that Clara, the ballet’s central character, might have enjoyed. Drawing on the ballet’s theme of Clara’s adventures, Eric Menard, Head of Pastry, has curated a lavish affair of sweet and savoury treats.

Entering the Cortile on the hotel’s ground floor, you are transported to a world of sweet delights, with displays of pink and white roses, Nutcracker statues and beautifully set tables decorated with fine china tea ware by Noritake with bold bright stripes of purple, pink and yellow to delight both young and old.

Led to our low-lying table, and comfortably seated in leather arm chairs, we were offered a glass of G.H. Mumm bubbly, or sparkling wine from Bimbadgen Estate, before High Tea was served on elegant three-tiered cake stands. Special diets are well catered for including gluten free, vegetarian and vegan, and a special high tea just for young ballerinas of up to 12 years of age.

In keeping with the festive theme, the breads used to make the delicate ribbon sandwiches are vibrantly coloured gold, black and red, using natural food dye including turmeric, tomato, and malty rye. The striped sandwiches on a boldly coloured striped plate is visually striking. Fillings are of turkey, cranberry and parsley, smoked salmon complemented with salmon mousse and cucumber, dill, and cream fraiche. The vegetarian selection includes wraps that are equally appetising, roast vegetable with sweet potato and herb and salt-baked beetroot with hummus.

The buttermilk vanilla scones of generous proportions, are fresh, light and fluffy, and come with thick clotted cream and exceptionally flavoursome raspberry jam.

But, the show stoppers, the menu’s grand finale are the sweets. The presentation is impeccable and elaborate with each sweet treat presented with considerable attention to detail, including specks of gold leaf. The sugar plum tartlet was topped with a dollop of Guava jelly and fine shreds of Persian fairy floss. The vanilla rose cup-cakes coated with pink icing, are decorated with miniature rosewater and white chocolate ballet shoes. The choux pastry dipped in pink icing and shaped like a Christmas gift box, encases a rich centre of vanilla custard and raspberries, while the raspberry yuzu cup has an intense tangy raspberry base. But the standout, one of the best sweet treats I’ve ever enjoyed, is the lemon meringue macaron, with a finely etched ballerina upon it, a power ball that is full of intense citrus flavour.

The bubbly is G.H. Mumm, which if you’ve not tried it before, may well become your favourite French Champagne. The Hunter Valley sparkling wine is also impressive, a Semillion from Bimbadgen Estate.

Premium hand crafted loose leaf teas from La Maison du The artisan, include Earl Grey, green tea, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, camomile, ginger and lemon. Speciality teas are also offered including Rooibos Raspberry Vanilla and White Peony, the coffee is Vittoria.

It was a delightful afternoon and as we relaxed, a young pianist with long tresses and wearing a beautiful old fashioned cream coloured lace dress, played Tchaikovsky’s music from the ballet.

The Cortile is a lofty open space with a central atrium, the sandstone walls and colonnades a feature made from locally quarried golden sandstone, the floor is striking with the original black and white marble tiles, and features including a wrought iron lift and bronze lion statues give it a refined ambience within a building that was once the State Treasury.

The InterContinental Sydney sited alongside the grand historic buildings of Bridge and Macquarie streets, is one of Sydney’s most iconic hotels. Overlooking Circular Quay, Government House and the Royal Botanic Gardens, the hotel is just a short stroll away from the Sydney Opera House.

Being in no hurry to leave, we took the lift to the top floor to catch a glimpse of the panoramic views of the harbour from the hotel’s exclusive club lounge. You could, if you wanted to, turn the ballet and high tea into something more, an evening of indulgence by staying overnight in one of the hotel’s club rooms. If the ballet centres on a night of magic for the main character Clara, she might well approve.


High Tea Sydney – find more experiences
in our High Tea Venue Directory.

InterContinental Hotel Sydney:


117 Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Daily 11am-5pm. The Nutcracker High Tea is only available until 4 January 2020.


$79 per person with sparkling wine or a non-alcoholic cocktail, $89 per person with a glass of champagne, $39 per child up to 12 years.

Prices are correct at the time of publishing, but subject to change. Please contact the venue for further details.

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