Whoever invented high tea was a genius. I love eating lots of tiny food.
Being able to sample lots of tiny cakes and bites makes me happy. I often get food envy when I have to choose only one item. I love hanging out with girlfriends or with my mum and sister while we chat and work our way down the tiers of cakes and delicious sandwiches. Trying the different teas on offer is great too, and the whole experience is just lovely. Very civilised.
Since discovering I am gluten intolerant, high tea has become another one of those things to do that I’ve had to forego though. The cakes, sandwiches, tarts and scones that used to make my mouth water now just fill my brain with dread. I’m very sad about it all.
Mr Romance is always on the lookout for gluten-free alternatives for me, bless him, but they often don’t taste right or have a weird texture. It’s usually easier for me to just remove that element from my meal.
Recently, however, a girlfriend invited me to high tea for her baby shower at the Park Hyatt Sydney. At first I was very hesitant thinking of all that delicious gluten I wouldn’t be able to eat… that was until I discovered they cater for all kinds of dietary requirements there.
Situated right under the Harbour Bridge, the Park Hyatt is one of – if not the – most expensive exclusive hotels in Sydney. Its modern interior is simple yet elegant. Through the floor-to-ceiling windows, the incredible views out over Circular Quay to the Opera House and the city peer in.
Afternoon tea is served in The Living Room. It’s just off the main hotel lobby entrance but is very quiet and comfortable. You can relax in the comfy armchairs and our group sat in that central banquet seating.
For larger groups, you can organise your own private room.
The friendly waiting staff were so accommodating with my gluten-free request, and it didn’t cost any extra, which I thought was a nice touch. As it was a baby shower, there was at least one woman in our group with child. Once again, the hotel’s catering showed excellent flexibility and my friends were served pregnancy-friendly food without much drama.
The food itself comes on beautiful high tea tray towers with different delectables on every level, separated – as they should be – into savoury and sweet selections.
Trays came laden with delicious comte cheese and truffle sandwiches, parma ham, rocket and mustard torta rolls, smoked salmon and cream cheese, and excellent cucumber sandwiches, which should never be underestimated.
My sandwiches all came in gluten-free bread. I’ve had some terrible experiences with gf bread but this stuff was surprisingly good.
On the sweet tray, almost everything apart from the macadamia cake was already gluten free. They swapped my cake for a chocolate shell, which may have caused a bit of food envy amongst my friends.
Also on the sweet selection was a valrhona chocolate delice, a raspberry, vanilla and pistachio tart, and ‘a la folie’ macarons. I also gained an extra rasberry on my tart… though that doesn’t sound quite right, does it?
To finish us off there were freshly baked vanilla scones (mine were gluten free) with sticky strawberry jam and thick clotted cream.
For drinks we could order coffees or choose from the tea selection. I don’t drink much coffee anymore, and I thought the tea choices were a bit underwhelming… but I had champagne instead, so I was very happy!
All in all, this was a lovely high tea experience. Not least because of the friendly accommodating nature of the staff and how they catered to so many dietary needs with such agility.
When I told Mr Romance about this one, he just looked a bit sad. I still haven’t taken him to the high coffee I went to at the Intercontinental Hotel last year. Maybe if he’s good…
High Tea at the Park Hyatt Sydney – served between 2.30pm – 5.00pm every day.
$49 – served with tea and coffee
$65 – served with Moët & Chandon rosé
Park Hyatt Sydney
7 Hickson Road
02 9256 1234
Where’s your favourite place for high tea? Do you have any hot tips for a great gluten-free meal out?