High Tea at Fancy Nance Melbourne

Photographer: Michelle Milton
Adriano Zumbo (supplied image)
Adriano Zumbo (supplied image)

After much anticipation, Adriano Zumbo’s high tea salon, Fancy Nance, has come to Melbourne – and it does not disappoint.

High Tea Society was among the first to try out the new offering, which opened earlier this month in South Yarra, tucked away on Daly Street (just behind the Little Frankie’s café).

The former warehouse, which was most recently the site of Manu Feildel’s failed Le Grand Cirque restaurant, now features large paintings of flamingos on the wall, plush seats, polished concrete floors, pendant lights decorated with tea ware, and an open kitchen where diners can watch the magic take place.

In a nod to its “fancy” title, the tables are laid out with white linen tablecloths and white napkins.

But, in typical Zumbo fashion, tradition has been turned on its head.

High Tea at Fancy Nance
High Tea at Fancy Nance
Passionfruit curd, lemongrass panna cotta, lime tapioca and coconut espuma
Passionfruit curd, lemongrass panna cotta, lime tapioca and coconut espuma
Grapefruit with white chocolate ganache, olive oil and shizo
Grapefruit with white chocolate ganache, olive oil and shizo

The food is served, not on a cake stand, but over five courses for the generously-sized I’m So Fancy option (or three courses for the smaller Pretty Flamingo) in a degustation-style fashion.

What’s more, at Fancy Nance you start off with the sweets, followed by the scones, and finish up with the savouries.

For those inclined, gluten free and vegetarian menus are also on offer.

Tea is served in a variety of artfully mismatched teapots – my raspberry tea is served in a heavy clay teapot, while my companion’s peppermint tea is served in a glass teapot.

There are 16 varieties of Harney and Sons tea on offer, as well as coffee, hot chocolate or a glass of sparkling or champagne.

High Tea at Fancy Nance
High Tea at Fancy Nance
High Tea at Fastry Nance
High Tea at Fastry Nance
Chouxmaca with berries and cream
Chouxmaca with berries and cream
Pastries du jour
Pastries du jour
Scones with jam and cream
Scones with jam and cream

All in all, the vibe is very Alice in Wonderland, and the whimsical and fun menu complement the atmosphere perfectly.

Trying out the I’m So Fancy menu, we start off with first course, a trio of desserts, and marvel over the lightness of the vanilla Chantilly cream mixed with the linzer cake.

Next up is a tart grapefruit which is wonderfully balanced out by a quenelle of white chocolate.

By far our favourite is the passionfruit curd, lemongrass panna cotta, lime tapioca and coconut espuma, with all the different elements layered much like a trifle in a long, black shot glass, with the espuma – which resembles a meringue – poking out on top, giving the effect of something that has bubbled up in a test tube.

The different tastes as you get further down the glass, and the mixture of textures, make this dessert a true delight, and it possibly the best dessert I’ve ever tasted.

We move on to a large chouxmaca with a berry filling, topped with cream and a plain macaron, followed up with a coconut and peanut butter macaron and deconstructed apple pie.

Next came the scones, with two jams – redcurrant and capsicum – and cream.

The redcurrant jam was divine, but we were divided on the capsicum jam, which had a spicy aftertaste.

A small selection of pastries – including a chocolate and cinnamon scroll and an apricot Danish – were tasty but lacked the inventiveness of previous courses.

Finally, it was onto the savoury part of the menu.

Caramelised olives with smoked ricotta
Caramelised olives with smoked ricotta
Cured salmon, rye, fresh apple and creme fraiche
Cured salmon, rye, fresh apple and creme fraiche
Osso bucco with pea shoots
Osso bucco with pea shoots

The smoked ricotta was prevalent and worked well with the sweet taste coming from the caramelised olives, followed by a deliciously fresh cured salmon served on a bed of rye with fresh apple and crème fraiche.

Balancing out all the sweetness of the desserts was the pork rillette on a salty pretzel bun and the osso bucco with pea shoots, which was also quite salty.

Zumbo’s incarnation of high tea is wonderfully playful, very filling and a must-try.

Fancy Nance High Tea Menu

High Tea at Fancy Nance
High Tea at Fancy Nance

I’m so Fancy

  • Linzer cake with vanilla chantilly
  • Grapefruit with white chocolate ganache, olive oil and shizo
  • Passionfruit curd, lemongrass panna cotta, lime tapioca and coconut espuma
  • Chouxmaca with berries and cream
  • Macaron
  • Apple pie, cinnamon marshmallow and sorrel
  • Scones with two jams
  • Pastries du jour
  • Caramelised olives with smoked ricotta
  • Cured salmon, rye, fresh apple and creme fraiche
  • Pork rillette on a pretzel bun
  • Osso bucco with pea shoots
    Tea, coffee or hot chocolate

Pretty Flamingo

  • Chouxmaca with berries and cream
  • Macaron
  • Apple pie, cinnamon marshmallow and sorrel
  • Scones with two jams
  • Caramelised olives with smoked ricotta
  • Cured salmon, rye, fresh apple and creme fraiche
  • Pork rillette on a pretzel bun
  • Tea, coffee or hot chocolate
Charlene Macaulay

Charlene Macaulay has been a High Tea Society contributor since 2013 and loves that she gets to pair her passion for food and writing when doing reviews. When she’s not sampling ribbon sandwiches and scones, she writes hard news and features for the Wyndham Star Weekly newspaper. She’s also a lover of high heels, travelling and Grey’s Anatomy.

Articles by Charlene