While the Byrneleigh is still open for business, it doesn't seem they do high tea any more...
Ah, High Tea. Dainty food, cups of fresh tea, elegant ladies laughing gaily at some witticism. It came pretty close, except for the elegant part maybe. The girls and I had decided to 'take' Garden Tea at the Byrneleigh, a pub/restaurant in Nedlands, which moonlights on weekends as a High Tea destination.
There are two options, the Lily package ($30pp) which includes food and tea or the Rose package ($36) which also includes a glass of sparkling white wine. There are two sittings, 12-2pm or 2.30-4.30pm.
Did you know that according to High Tea etiquette, you must always pick up both the saucer and the cup, holding one in each hand while you delicately sip your tea? Or that after you stir your tea you should leave the spoon resting under the handle of your tea cup, which should be turned to the right?
By the time we actually received our tea, about 45 minutes after we arrived we were so thirsty we practically picked up the silver teapots and drank the tea straight from the spout. Timing does not seem to be the Byrneleigh's strong suit, or managing serving sizes, but otherwise we had a fabulous time.
The online menu does not accurately represent what you might actually receive on the day, but the changes are minor and is the chef's prerogative. However, since there is no variation in what will be served, we thought the 25 minute wait was a bit much.
Our table of five were presented with a three-tiered stand brimming with sweet and savouries, and a separate plate stacked high with scones. The bottom two layers were dedicated to savouries - we each received four decently sized slices of soft baguette with a variety of toppings including roast beef, chicken, smoked salmon and brie. The top tier held very curious quiches made with stilton (we think) and walnuts, a very yummy chocolate brownie and a satisfactory carrot cake.
The scones (two each) were brilliant. Fresh, soft, warm and sweet. The accompanying jam was curious and we spent some time trying to figure out what it was. It had whole berries (cherries?) bobbing around, but the jam itself was very runny. It smelt a bit like vinegar and was almost savoury in taste, but it was good foil to the sweetened vanilla cream. But as mentioned before, the tiny dishes that accompanied the 10 scones, while adequate for two people, were hardly sufficient for five. We had to ask twice for more jam and cream, and while the staff were happy enough to bring out extra (once you caught their eye), it would have been a simple fix for them to provide larger bowls to begin with.
We had almost finished our food by the time our tea arrived (which we had to ask for). There is a choice of about fifteen teas, mostly tea bags from the Twinings range. Each comes in its own glass tea pot and easily provides three cups of tea. It was a pity that they did not provide enough milk to make 15 cups of tea, and again we had to ask twice for more milk. Coffee does not appear on the menu and according to High Tea etiquette is wildly inappropriate anyway. So is using your fingers to wipe out the bottom of the cream bowl. So is making two pregnant women wait half an hour for food.
There is no garden at the Byrneleigh, so I am not sure why they call it a Garden Tea. However two of the walls are covered in a very retro tree-print wallpaper, and there are two large displays of indoor potted plants. It felt quite appropriate during the day with the doors and windows open and a fresh breeze flowing through the place, but I don't know how it would work at night when it becomes a pub.
High tea is traditionally a slow meal, the dinky portion sizes are meant to encourage you to go slow and savour the taste. We were like a pack of wolves, hoovering down the sandwiches like we hadn't eaten for a month. I don't think any of us were convinced there was enough food, but by the time we had finished the scones we were feeling very satisfied indeed.
We all agreed we would return, but perhaps with some changes. The tea should appear before the food, not half an hour later. A little generosity with the jam and cream would also be appreciated.
it seems to be a common fault of waiters to ignore the patrons if they are delivering meals. I had to get up and go to reception at one popular seaside cafe in Rockingham to ask for a coffee. Their eyes should be peeled at all times to see if anything is required but they never look.