But until now, I'd never even heard of High Coffee.
We were guests for their Birdcage High Coffee, and waiting at our table was an enormous (albeit empty) brass birdcage, with three tiers just begging to be filled with plates of food. It is suspended over the table, making reaching for the last macaron a competitive sport when you've consumed one of the accompanying cocktails. It's a unique touch in a crowded market, as is the focus on coffee, but the real test naturally, was always going to be the food.
To some people, nine food items might not sound like much. But let me reassure you no one will leave feeling like they need to stop at a drive-through on the way home, and unless you eat like a bird, nor will you pass out in a food coma before you find your ride in the sea of cars, otherwise known as the Crown carpark. They not only hit the sweet spot, but they also find it and caress it.
Too much? I think not.
These are interesting, indulgent and somewhat unusual dishes.
A lobster and sesame spring roll with nam jim mayo.
A Smurf blue macaron with lemon myrtle.
A melting moment made with hazelnut and coffee.
A truffle croquette.
A chocolate cigar.
While it is called High Coffee, this is because some of the dishes have coffee as an element and all of the cocktails are coffee based. If you're a tea drinker, you're still taken care of.
The hour of free-flowing drinks includes all your barista coffees from affogato to lattes plus dirty chai and hot chocolate. Then a range of 12 teas including Fragrant Jasmine Green Tea, Rose and French Vanilla, Ti Kuan Yin Oolong, Early Grey and English Breakfast.
I opted for a chai latte and later, an Arabian Mint and Honey. Funnily enough, each came with a small chocolate shortbread, probably unnecessary considering the plates of delicacies dangling over the table (but I still ate them anyway).
The Caramel Espresso Martino is best suited to the savouries, the ABC (a rum-based coconut concoction) is matched to the heavier, chocolate-based sweets and the Chateau de L'Orange has been designed for the lighter desserts.
The cocktails seemed unnecessarily complicated in their flavours and for me personally, they were the least favourite part of the experience. I'm more of a glass of bubbly type of girl. But the mixologists at TWR are well known for their inventive creations and the ABC was particularly fascinating, coming with a frozen cold brew coffee bear – the substantial ice cube gradually melting and intensifying the coffee flavour of the cocktail. Very clever.
Perhaps it was only because I was writing this review and we were feeling analytical after a coffee-based cocktail, but we agreed there are certain dishes you typically find at high tea. Scones with jam and cream definitely, a tiny quiche, a custard tart, a brownie, perhaps a homemade pie or fancy sausage roll. You will find none of these at TWR.
I love a good scone as much as the next person, but there's no place for them amongst the next-level decadence that swings gently above your table. I think it's fair to say that the dishes at the Birdcage High Coffee are among the most intricate, flavoursome and delicious I've ever had. Your server will explain what the dishes are, but thoughtfully, a menu is also provided so you can explore each item in your own time – and take your time because there's a lot going on – and there is an unexpected or surprising element in each.
TWR Birdcage High Coffee is available from 12pm to 3pm daily in the Crown Towers bar. Advanced bookings are required (by midday the day before), with a minimum of 2 people and bookings must be made in pairs. If you're a party of three, I'm not sure how you'd go – but a phonecall would surely sort that out.
Prices are $69.50 per person or $89.50 with a specialty coffee cocktail.