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One of the greatest things to do on a Sunday afternoon is to gather a group of your best gal pals for some old-fashion, girly, food fun at a high tea brunch/lunch. A few weeks back, a contemporary seafood high tea event was held at the Westin Hotel as part of the festivities for the 20th Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. Many of the girls in our group love their seafood and so it wasn’t difficult to get enough yeses to make it a date.
Outside a proper restaurant setting, the lounge area actually provides quite a cosy and comfortable vibe. Somewhat similar to being in the shared common area of say, a ski lodge. The plush arm chairs further added to the comfy feel. If the parking meter hadn’t been ticking away, I would have happily stayed and lounged around all day.
More snap shots of the lobby area.
The table setting.
As you can see, the space was very…
Our high tea.
Not only was the food a stark contrast from the usual sandwiches and mini cakes but the stand itself was also unique and not the typical two- or three- tiered stand.
Tasmanian Oysters 3 ways - natural, spiced bacon, nahn jim.
The oysters tasted very fresh but were perhaps a little on the teensy side.
Salmon & tuna futomaki with soy pickled ginger.
The taste of raw fish is starting to grow on me I think. At least for raw salmon anyway. I took one bite of the tuna and passed the rest to thehouseofem. Again, no complaints and the salmon also tasted fresh.
I had previously skimmed through the menu and missed the bit that read wasabi marshmallow. As I was eating it, the thought of wasabi did come to mind but the flavour was so subtle that I didn’t think much of it. The texture was quite frothy and it while it didn’t taste like a normal marshmallow (thanks to the inclusion of wasabi), it also didn’t taste too much like wasabi.
Scallop mornay with black caviar.
The scallop possessed quite a chewy texture and strong seafood taste. The cream’s subtly sweet taste helped to balance out the fishiness.
Contemporary style prawn cocktails.
Petit crab burgers with lime aioli.
I’ve always had a thing for mini-burgers and while they’ve generally failed to disappoint, the same could not be said for this. The crab patty fared well on its own and in combination with the lime flavouring, tasted like a crab fritter with a very fine crispy exterior. The negatives came in the form of everything else. The bread was quite stale and detracted from the tastiness of the fritter. Additionally, the mix of ingredients (bread + fritter/patty + tomato) felt somewhat disjointed and needed something else to tie them together. It is difficult I suppose given the size constraint…
Now onto the sweets. By this point my stomach was starting to reach a comfortable level of fullness but onwards I went. Their small size made the task seem less daunting.
Petit lemon tart.
Passion fruit creme brulee with chocolate spoons.
Going by appearance (such a pretty vibrant red), these looked scrumptious but higher expectations in this instance meant greater disappointment. Upon further scrutinising, the top layer looked too smooth. The caramelisation of the sugar layer had not been performed for long enough and consequently, the end product lacked a firm and crisp caramel layer. There was no crack upon breaking into the brulee. I tried a chocolate spoon-full and crunch. Not too surprising, the crunchiness came from actual sugar crystals on top of the brulee and provided further evidence of a botched caramelisation job.
Rosewater panna cotta with vanilla floss.
First impression: a compact mousse version of musk sticks. The rosewater flavour only became distinct after re-reading the menu. The floss (Persian fairy floss?) was quite chewy and clumped together with increased exposure to moisture. Overall, the panna cotta was quite light and not too sweet. Probably more enjoyable if you were a fan of musk sticks.
(Not on the menu) Chocolate biscuit with a marshmallow filling.
Strawberry & cream macaron.
The macaron stole the show when they first brought out our high tea selection. The four of us marvelled over how cute the fondant bows on top looked. A little birdie then mentioned to me a few days later that a friend of her’s was responsible for the bow. I’ve done some stalking since and her creations never fail to leave me in awe. Back to the macaron itself, it was probably the one thing I had been looking forward to the most (as well as the mini burger…) However by the time I reached the macaron, I couldn’t fit it in and decided to take it with me for consumption at a later point. Excellent macaron. Not too sweet, somewhat chewy texture and the strawberry flavour in the butter cream was spot on. The fondant bows didn’t taste artificial, also weren’t too sweet and added another element (in both taste and texture) to the macaron.
As advertised, the contemporary event offered a different take on the traditional high tea with a selection of savoury foods that focused more on seafood. Outside of the MFWF event, Westin Hotel also serves up a decent traditional high tea with the usual sandwiches and scones.
Lobby Lounge, Westin Hotel
205 Collins St,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.