According to the High Tea Society website there are at least thirty different places in Perth that serve high tea, and I personally have been to quite a few of these over the years. I don't know if it is the delicate bite sized morsels, the charming company, the luxurious surrounds or simply the fact that I don't have to cook, but I love high tea so when I was invited to the Pan Pacific recently for a friend's birthday, I was delighted.
In short, high tea at Pan Pacific is probably at the more glamourous end of the High Tea in Perth. It may not have the views of 'C' or the eye boggling food of Rochelle Adonis, nor the limitless options of buffets like the Café at Hyatt – but with its elegant golden room, the timeless beauty of the Wedgewood teapots and cups, and the free-flowing sparkling wine, it feels like a glamourous and very grown up way to celebrate a special occasion with friends.
Price-wise it is at the more expensive end at $65 per person, but this does include free-flowing sparkling wine, so that suddenly makes it a much more attractive proposition. And it is genuinely free-flowing unlike other venues where you have practically have to start crying to get a third glass; at Origins, you almost have to tell them to stop (only if you're driving home, that is).
When you arrive you will be shown to your beautifully set table, with crisp white linen tablecloths and elegantly colourful Wedgewood teacups.
Tall glasses of water are provided, followed by your first glass of quality sparkling wine.
Soon after your first course of hot savoury dishes will arrive, four morsels on a plate delivered to each person. The menu will change according to the season, but when we visited we enjoyed a warm carrot and ginger veloute (soup), a bite-sized corn fritter with spiced avocado dressing, a tiny tomato scone with blue cheese and a perfect pumpkin and sage arancini.
This is matched to a half cup of tea that has been chosen specifically for the flavours of the course.
As you would expect with silver service, the staff magically know when everyone has finished and the plates are taken away to be replaced with tall, tiered stands with an assortment of sweet and savoury delicacies, to be shared between two. Again, you will be given tea that has been selected to match the dishes, but you can also request a pot of tea, or presumably a coffee if you prefer (or you can just continue to enjoy the sparkling wine).
The stand provides a mix of sweet and savoury, and where Origins excel is that it provides a very good weighting of savoury over sweet, with a total of eight savoury to five sweet.
When we visited we enjoyed a fabulous chicken finger sandwich, a wild mushroom quiche with feta pesto (one of the best I have ever eaten), a tiny bagel with smoked salmon, dill and cucumber and a thin piece of dark rye with roast wagyu beef with what I thought was coleslaw but the menu said was horseradish. It was all exceptional.
Next I enjoyed my tiny scone which was accompanied by a generous serving of jam and Chantilly cream (there is nothing worse than not having enough jam and cream for your scone).
Finally I faced my layer of sweet options: a cube of butterscotch cheesecake, a decadent chocolate and espresso tart, a mixed berry friand, and a coconut and kaffir lime pannacotta in a curious shade of green.
Much to my disappointment I could not finish all my desserts, and considering my capacity to consume, this speaks volumes about the quantity of food provided.
Service was professional and always appropriately timed, the room was beautiful and the only issue is the lack of street parking sufficiently long enough to allow you to relax into your afternoon. I saw many ladies sneaking out of the room to go and put more money in the parking metre, or – like myself – having mild heart attacks after walking up the aptly named Hill Street in their high heels (there is plenty of three hour parking on Terrace Road but it comes at a price costing over $4 per hour).
I would definitely place High Tea at Origins (Pan Pacific) at the top of my 'favourites' list and it is certainly worth keeping an eye on their website for specials, such as their current one with 25% off until the end of August 2016.