Saturday, August 15, 2015

Restaurant Review: High Tea at the Burbury Terrace

The current popularity of high tea is something I whole heartedly endorse. For me it is an ideal indulgence. A meal that isn't necessary. Is comprised of tiny portions of a multitude of items. Must be enjoyed with at least one other person. And, that can be enjoyed at your leisure mid-afternoon. Really what could be more delightfully unnecessary and completely indulgent?

Our latest venture into the world of high teas took us to The Burbury Hotel. Each weekend they host high tea at the Terrace, their 7th floor restaurant from 1pm - 4pm. I would definitely say it is the high tea with the best view we have tried. The Terrace has sweeping views across central Canberra from its elegant and paired back dining room.

We arrived just after 1pm at the start of the service. Only a few other tables of people had arrived and we were promptly seated. We chose the Traditional High Tea for $45 instead of the Champagne High Tea for $55 as neither of us are particular fans of the bubbles. However if you do like them, it is a very nice glass of NVG Mumm that you will be enjoying.

S decided to further buck the high tea trend and ordered a cappuccino to accompany his food, I chose the Napoleon tea from the TWG tea menu. One of my bug bears with high teas is when you only get a single drink included to accompany what is actually quite a large meal, however The Burbury High Tea comes with unlimited tea and coffee which is fantastic.

Shortly after our drinks arrived, our three tier high tea stand was presented to the table. In traditional format, the lower tier comprised sandwiches, the middle tier scones plus a creme brulee and the top tier cakes and sweets.

Being a stickler for tradition, I started with the sandwiches. They were: tomato, basil and gruyère on sourdough, Tasmanian smoked salmon and herb slider and cucumber and cream cheese on white bread. The fillings were all lovely but the bread for the first and last sandwiches tasted like standard supermarket pre-sliced loaves and the brioche slider was just a little sweet for the salmon.

I wasn't impressed on first glance at the scones as they looked rather flat which I thought might make them too dense. However they were probably the best scones we have had at a high tea. Tasty with a good crumb. The accompanying preserve was quite runny but that just meant it sank into the scone beautifully and had a rich delicious flavour. We probably could have done with a little more cream but that is because S is a cream lover and can eat vast amounts of it. The only disappointment was that while the menu promised two varieties of scone, strawberry and vanilla, all of our scones (there are 2 per person) were plain which I guess meant vanilla. That said, they were so good we didn't really mind.

Finishing off the second tier was the white chocolate and passion fruit crème brûlée. It had a beautiful crunchy layer of toffee on top but was a little too creamy and sweet for me. S quite happily finished mine but said that he didn't think the passionfruit worked as well as it could have and found the seeds a distracting texture in the otherwise creamy dessert.

After a short pause to get a second coffee for S and a pot of the silver moon tea for me we attacked the final tier.

It was a beautiful array of tiny cakes and sweets. However the first two we tried, the pistachio financier with rum pineapple and what appeared to be a friand topped with a blueberry that wasn't on the menu were our least favourite. The texture of both was a bit glutenous and they were just too sweet.

Next up was the bittersweet brownie topped with praline gânache and caramelised salted popcorn. This morsel was truly delicious, almost fudge like in texture and with a rich but bittersweet flavour. The dark chocolate had coffee undertones and was really well matched with the toffee like toppings. It was a great break in the sweet course and a good balance for the palate.

Next up was the buttermilk pana cotta, strawberry and basil gelée. The pana cotta was fantastic but the strawberry sauce was overly sweet. We would have preferred it if it was a simple strawberry puree so that the acid in the strawberry could be a counterpoint to the creamy pana cotta. And the same comment applied to the lemon curd and meringue tartelette we tried next. Again this was delicious, but we both agreed the curd could have used some more acid from the lemon to balance out the sweetness.

By this stage we were both flagging. High tea is a pretty full on meal and despite the fact that we had minimal breakfasts, we were getting full. However we were not to be defeated.

The second last item was the macaron. Although advertised as nutella flavour, it appeared to be raspberry and caramel. To be honest, very few macarons in Australia do anything much for me. They don't have the melt in the mouth quality that we fell in love with in France as the shells tend to have a chewy quality. This was a good Australian macaron, it just didn't have that French amazingness.

The final item was a profiterole filled with expresso cream. I don't like coffee but I had a bite to try it before handing the rest to S. It was excellent. Beautiful choux pastry, silky flavourful cream only let down by not fantastic chocolate decorating the top.

Overall the service was good, although we did notice that most people arrived at about 2pm and it got a bit chaotic at that point. We tried to leave and pay at about 2.30pm which was probably the moment of peak activity so paying the bill took some time. I would certainly recommend booking either a bit earlier or later than 2 to avoid the rush.

Bookings are essential as they often book out up to 3 weeks in advance, particularly for large tables and we saw a couple of disappointed people being turned away.

We really enjoyed our high tea. The venue is gorgeous (although S remarked that once it was full of women - and there were literally only 5 men in the place - it did get quite noisy), the view spectacular and the food on the whole, delicious. It gets a big tick from me for the continuous tea and coffee, the attentive service and the quality and quantity of food.

High Tea at The Burbury Terrace
1pm-4pm Saturday and Sunday
Burbury Close

And if you love high tea as much as I do, set 10 October aside as I will be hosting a fundraising high tea for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation at the Canberra Institute of Technology. You can find the details and book tickets here:

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