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Published April 3rd 2016
High tea at its loftiest
Three tiers of delicious morsels at Vaucluse House Tea Rooms
There is nothing like three tiers of delectable tidbits served on beautiful crockery with a glass of bubbles to make a girl feel special. Particularly if, while nibbling on these tidbits, you are also surrounded by elegant gardens in one of Australia's most beautiful historic houses, steeped in the history of its creator, William Wentworth, one of the leading and wealthiest figures of early colonial New South Wales. It is these surrounds which make this high tea a more unique and memorable experience than the various high teas on offer in hotels. If you're not just after a high tea experience but would love to walk through beautiful surrounds and enjoy a rich historical experience, coming to Vaucluse House Tea Rooms is a pretty fine idea.
Fine crockery and richly scented roses on every table
Every morsel of the high tea is delicious, and the range of teas and coffees on offer is extensive. At $55 per person, this is very well-priced - sometimes the amount of food provided in a high tea can leave you feeling hungry afterwards, or completely bloated. This high tea has found the perfect balance, leaving us feeling pleasantly stuffed but definitely not overly so, nor disappointingly hungry.
Devonshire Tea component of High Tea at Vaucluse House
The wild mushroom tart was a standout on the plate - a beautifully sharp cheese hit that balanced perfectly with the wild mushroom flavour. We were also impressed by the large helping of smoked salmon rolled up tightly standing to attention on the blinis.
Chicken and Tarragon sandwich, wild mushroom tart, smoked salmon and creme fraiche blini, cucumber, cream cheese and watercress fingers
My favourite morsel on the 3 tiers was the black forest gateau cup - a really juicy cherry bursting with flavour surrounded by creamy, rich dark chocolate. Just one mouthful but so intensely flavoured.
Black Forest Gateau cup, salted caramel profiterole, brioche apple and cinnamon doughnut, macaron
When you have stuffed yourself to the seams, what better way to work off the calories than to take a stroll around the ten hectares of lovely gardens surrounding Vaucluse House, or to increase your knowledge of Australian history by taking a tour of Vaucluse House itself. Entry to the house costs $8 per person, and you can take a free tour lasting approximately 40 minutes, which is a great way to learn random pieces of trivia such as where the expression "put your foot in it" comes from, how William Wentworth spent his time when he was at home, why he spent so much time away from it, and why, despite being one of the wealthiest men in Sydney as well as a leading political figure, he was never accepted into the "respectable" classes.
The one potential downside of visiting Vaucluse House is that if you're not actually in the immediate area, traffic to get there can be annoying. We came on a Friday and it took us longer than we would like to get from the North Shore down to the Eastern Suburbs - traffic can be dense on the main roads to this area and there is no easy way to bypass them.
An additional annoyance is if you happen to be in the house at the same time as a school group on a weekday, it can be a bit noisy and difficult to hear your guide.
However, once here, there is a free car park which makes parking painless, there's plenty of space and beautiful gardens to explore - it really is a very pleasant afternoon that can be spent here, so it's worth the effort.
Vaucluse House Tea Rooms are open for high tea from Wednesday to Friday from 10am - 4.30pm, and on weekends between 8am and 4.30pm. Bookings are essential.
As noted on the Vaucluse House website, barrister and novelist John Lang once wrote about this area that "there is not a lovelier site in the known world'. If you haven't taken the time to visit here yet, it really is worth a look.