Tuesday 30 August 2011

Afternoon Tea at The Observatory Hotel, The Rocks

I have often been asked by friends and followers of my little blog where I think is the best high tea in Sydney and (humbled to even be asked!) I have always responded with sentences that have usually been prefaced by the phrase "Well it depends.." However, after a recent high tea experience at The Observatory Hotel in Sydney's historic Rocks area, I now feel confident in recommending to others what I believe to be the creme de la creme of Sydney high teas.

It was at The Observatory that I caught with a friend I hadn't seen in many many months - what better way to catch up with a girlfriend than over high tea in such opulent and relaxing surroundings! So where do I start? Well, how about the hotel's grand foyer to set the scene? I think the photos above speak for themselves.. this is one fine establishment!
I make my way into the Globe Brasserie & Bar where afternoon tea is held daily - a sweeping room with polished wooden floors and complete with soft lighting, rich drapes and plush armchairs and sofas. Oh, and there's a grand piano thrown in for good measure too...

I join my girlfriend at our table, neat as a pin and adorned with crisp white linen, glistening crockery and silverware. With 20 unique tea blends to choose from we take our time perusing the menu - I opt for a jasmine tea and my friend chooses another one of the lovely herbal blends.

Shortly after our high tea stand arrives - three tiers of afternoon scrumptiousness! It all looks so perfect we sit looking at it for a while, taking it all in and not wanting to spoil the pretty picture. But it looks so good we quickly succumb to our appetites and make a start with the savoury items.

Now when it comes to sandwiches at high teas, I (as a vegetarian) am normally accustomed to one type of sandwich which can be rather tasteless - plain cucumber... It's not ideal, and I certainly don't complain about it - rather, I simply adjust my expectations when going to a high tea. On this occasion, however, I am spoiled for choice with four little sandwiches each with a different and delicious filling, plus a vegetarian tart - hurray!

After our savouries we move onto the gem-like scones - not the monstrous floury types so common elsewhere that can be difficult to finish, but rather, these fresh, ladylike and fluffy scones that you can finish in a couple of mouthfuls. They really were the perfect size and a lovely texture... The strawberry jam served alongside them was superb - quite syrupy in consistency (which I prefer to very jelly-like jam), and most likely house-made which is always a good thing. The cream was like a double cream though, which I found a bit too heavy.

And last but not least we make our way to the impeccably presented plate of miniature sweets, all a good size for a high tea stand - enough to get a taste, but not too much so as to make you feel horrendously full. There's a fruit tartlet, lemon and poppyseed cupcake, cheesecake, chocolate opera slice, crème brûlée and chocolate mousse for each of us... they're all so good, but the crème brûlée and opera slice are my favourites.

And just when we thought we couldn't possibly eat another crumb, an unexpected and complimentary surprise arrives at our table - a congratulatory platter to celebrate my now somewhat big 'bun in the oven'!

All in all, a 5 star experience and a lovely way to catch up with a friend. Tell me, dear readers, where have you had your best high tea experience? I'd love to hear about it!

Ladybird x

The Observatory Hotel
89-113 Kent Street
The Rocks, NSW
Ph: (02) 8248 5252

Classic afternoon tea $49 per person on weekdays, $59 per person on weekends & public holidays
Monday to Friday 2:30 - 5pm
Saturdays 12:30 - 2:30pm, and 3 - 5pm
Sundays & public holidays 1 - 3 and 4 - 6pm


  1. Oh goodness, looks like an amazing location! Thats somehting that I miss out on being vegan unfotrunately, but your servings do look amazing, and the congratulations plate is a lovely touch :)


  2. This is beautiful. I wish that I can be there...

  3. What a lovely hotel, the food looks pretty too! The sweets look particularly delicious, yummm...

  4. Winsor Hotel in Melbourne does a kick ass High Tea

  5. I once went here for a baby shower and it was nothing short of amazing. Congratulations on your soon to be little ladybird!

  6. Oh wow! I'm heading to Sydney in November and was just wondering where the best high tea was. This looks so lovely and refined.
    And congratulations on bubby. Exciting times!

  7. Love the selection on the high tea stand! hehe congratulations to the little ladybird!

  8. I actually haven't had a chance to try high tea at The Observatory, only an evening dessert there in the past.

    And it's also those little things which really set apart the experience, right?

  9. It all looks gorgeous, I haven't been to the observatory for ages but you have given me a reason now!
    My best high tea was at Rendezvous Coffs Harbour. Congratulations om the immenient birth of your little lady bird. :)

  10. Had high tea with Mum at the Phoenician, a swanky hotel in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. We celebrated my college graduation.

  11. i love qvb/gunners barrack the tea room out of all the ones ive been too!
    and swissotel, the buffet high tea is awesome if you're going with a guy :)

    congrats on the baby!

  12. It all looks gorgeous and wonderful,love it...thanks for sharing.

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  14. I wonder how you got so good. This is really a fascinating blog, lots of stuff that I can get into. One thing I just want to say is that your Blog is so perfect! Hotels near Great Smoky Mountains


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