It's not like she needed anything to do! Cathy (the owner) of High Gate has three boys and her husband owns a family-run business. Prior to starting up High Tea at High Gate, Cathy always helped out in her husband's business. This is the first time that she has run her own business and the first time that she has worked in the catering field - once you've been there, you'll know why I say this is really hard to believe. Her story of the humble beginnings of this beautiful high tea venue started with an everyday conversation with her husband. She just thought maybe high teas could be a good idea - and she was right.
Today, we were greeted at the door by a smiling Cathy who is dressed in traditional, white servant gear. We are surrounded by beautiful antiques, so the scene was well and truly set for a 'be ready to be spoilt' high tea. We could imagine being the upper class where this event happening regularly throughout our English history.
Council restrictions and requirements aside, Cathy capitalised on her love of antiques and the fact that she has a beautiful heritage style home in the beautiful bushland at Yarrambat to pull off an extraordinary high tea experience. Cathy made several visits to our table to answer all of our numerous questions and a check in on us. To make sure that we were totally satisfied and attended to, she has little glass bells on each table. She told us on arrival to ring them for service at any time.
Every little detail attended to including fresh lemons
The dining room is exquisite and I'm still wondering how much she must've spent on all the beautiful furniture, crockery and accessories. It's one of those rooms where you just want to be left alone for a couple hours to look closely at everything.
When the food was delivered, Cathy took great pride to explain everything. In terms of the food, it is what you might hope for and expect at a high tea. The bottom tier of the servery consisted of sandwiches: asparagus (of course), smoked salmon, chicken with dill mayonnaise and egg sandwiches, homemade sausage rolls and mini spinach quiche. I really loved the smoked salmon sandwiches (not that I didn't love everything else).
The middle tier had all the beautiful sweet treats including: Macarons
Pavlova Tiramisu Chocolate
Layered chocolate cake
Cream-filled sponge cake
That's quite a selection when you list it.
The top tier has scones, with jam and cream waiting on the table in little crystal bowls. This is the first time I've been to a high tea where we have been told to let them know when we wanted the scones heated up. The little glass bell had a purpose. I'm not partial to cold scones but there's nothing like a soft fluffy warm scone with jam and cream and these were really great scones.
Helen was another waitress who diligently kept our water and tea full. She even served 'just picked off the tree' lemon. Helen told us she had worked in admin for forty-six years but after she came for High tea at High Gate, she thought she'd love to work in this environment. So she sent an email to Cathy saying she was old and without any experience but now she is happily serving tea. It got me thinking I would like that job.
It's amazing to note that Cathy did no advertising and has never worked in catering. Her hubby built access ramps and Cathy did the decorating, does the cooking and now has a thriving business that she loves. Sounds like a dream doesn't it? Cathy is pretty busy on most days she's open - these days are Thursday Friday, Saturday Sunday, and Monday. They have two sittings (11-1 or 2-4). It's best to book and Cathy will reply to confirm and sends text reminders the day before.
If you want to go mid-week, it will cost you $50 or $45 for seniors. On the weekend, it's $55 for adults and $50 for seniors. I am thrilled to say that because we couldn't possibly eat all the delicious food, Cathy provides takeaway containers for those who wish to enjoy the rest later (or those who feel guilty for the over-indulgence).
When I was leaving, I spoke to another customer who said she also regularly enjoyed high teas (like me). She thought that this one was particularly personalised which made the whole experience exemplary for her. I would have to agree.
My high tea voucher was a Christmas present that I finally got to use. I'm thinking it would be good to put this on my next year's Christmas list too. I'm hoping I may be able to sit outside next time in the beautiful gardens amongst the other antiques.
I have to say, you can't fault the service, the food or the atmosphere, so overall High Tea at High Gate must go on the top of your high tea places to visit list. I wonder if they are already booked out for Mother's day?