I'm an experienced corporate communicator and editor with an eye for interesting events and an attachment to my trusty Oxford dictionary.
Published November 5th 2013
Get the girls together for a buffet high tea
Organising a high tea experience for a group of twenty women is not an easy task. Firstly we were restricted to a particular date and time to ensure everyone's availability and then we needed a central venue with suitable access for prams and the elderly. Thanks to Weekend Notes the research side of things was relatively easy and I settled on the Stamford Plaza's Chocolate High Tea.
I had some initial reservations about the focus on chocolate. This might seem strange since I come from a long line of women with a genetic predisposition to chocolate addiction but a previous chocolate buffet experience had proved better as an idea than in reality - even I have my sugary, chocolate limits. So I was relieved to discover that not everything at this high tea is chocolate.
Chocolatey treats at the Stamford's Chocolate High Tea.
We arrived to the sounds of high spirited chatter, high heels clicking on the tiled floors and the high pitched clinking of champagne glasses (I think there's a theme developing here). It was obvious that this was a female domain, although a few hardy men were in attendance.
If ever there was a dining experience tailor made for the female sex, it is high tea. This is interesting since some sources report its origins as a working man's lunch originally taken standing up or sitting on tall stools. Get it? High tea. But no matter where it came from, the combination of dainty finger food, sweet morsels, aromatic tea and coffee, and the opportunity for girl talk in a pleasant atmosphere makes high tea tops for a girlie get together.
High tea savoury selection. Image with permission of Marcela Massey.
The Stamford Plaza's Chocolate High Tea, which is on every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, begins promptly at 3pm so we waited in a queue until they opened the doors of The Brasserie. It was rather like waiting for a department store to open its doors for post Christmas sales, but so much friendlier. After all, this is high tea, a refined event. Tables are reserved, so there's no need for jostling elbows or similar shopping tactics.
When you make your reservations you can choose to sit inside, which is admittedly closer to the food, or outside in the white pavilion atmosphere of the Riverview Terrace which, not surprisingly, overlooks the Brisbane River. This was a no-brainer as far as I was concerned, and Brisbane repaid my confidence, turning on one of those perfect spring afternoons that just beg you to sit outside.
It's important to understand at the outset that this is not a traditional high tea with silver tiered serving trays brought to your table and tea poured into delicately patterned china cups. If that's the kind of high tea you're looking for then Stamford Plaza's Chocolate High Tea is not for you. I'd personally recommend the delightful Tea and Niceties at Mt Tamborine instead.
[ADVERT]This is a serve-yourself buffet high tea and your tea comes in plain white teapots and cups, but the distinct advantage of this approach is that you can choose exactly what you want and how much you will have. If, for example, you have a yearning for white chocolate and treacle scones, you can indulge it to your heart's content. Everyone else is so busy chatting, sipping and eating that they probably won't notice your plate piled high with six scones and a dollop of cream. Probably.
Because in my particular world Halloween just doesn't exist it never occurred to me when I made the booking that our visit would coincide with this imported American tradition. It's OK, though, I'm not going to get started with my views on Halloween. I just think it would have been a good idea if I'd been informed about the Halloween theme when I made the booking, since it was a clear departure from the usual fare.
Garish, ghoulish and ghostly treats. Image with permission of Marcela Massey.
Halloween meant that the buffet tables were decorated with cobwebs, carved pumpkins and spiders, and the food, although very good, was a little garish and ghoulish. It was all clever and creative, just not my cup of tea.
On the savoury side I'm not quite sure what John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich and reported inventor of the eponymous hunger-buster, would have made of the bright pink ribbon sandwiches. Thankfully my fears that the bread may have been beetroot flavoured were unrealised. They were tasty nonetheless and the smoked salmon quiches with delicious, short savoury pastry were a highlight.
Bright pink finger sandwiches and smoked salmon quiches.
Sweet selections included pumpkin head cake pops, Phantom of the Opera cake, ghostly meringues and cupcakes, a rather grisly looking punch with a floating hand and 'evil' jelly shots. There was the usual assortment of brownies, tarts and cakes that had been made a little more colourful than usual, as well as lollies and fruit pieces to dip in chocolate. I particularly liked the mauve and orange macarons sandwiched with a creamy chocolate fondant.
There was a wide selection of teas and between us we sampled everything from Lady Grey to the heavenly scented rose and vanilla, which was a real treat. This has since been added to our tea selections at home, and I am sipping its fragrant warmth as I write.
At $49 a head we all agreed that this was a satisfying and value for money high tea experience, that we'd be more than happy to attend again, minus the Halloween accompaniments. The food and service was good, the tea lovely and the company excellent.
"We are family". Image with permission of Marcela Massey.
This was a Sister Sledge occasion for us. "We are family" but instead of having ''all my sisters with me" I had the lovely women in my extended adopted family - my mother-in-law, daughters, daughters-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, aunt, and cousins, as well as the youngest of our troupe, the gorgeous 3 month old Isabel, who was having her first taste of what a crazy and colourful family she's been blessed to be born into. There was no particular event to be celebrated, no birthday or milestone, just the fact that we really are family, which is a bond worth celebrating occasionally. Here's to you, ladies.
Things made with beetroot juice rarely do have a beetroot flavour. It is usually just used as a form of natural food colouring. When I saw the pictures before reading, I thought the sandwiches were red velvet cake.
This sounds like a great "girly" get together and I'll try to endevour to get some female family members and friends together to try it out. It's seems a bit pricy at $49 a head for nibblies though. Mandy E.