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“High” = yes “tea” = no – Eureka fest event misses the mark

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As the elevator at the Eureka Tower sent us at warp speed to the 85th floor of Melbourne’s tallest building, we new whatever experience awaited us at the top would be “high” above the city skyline.

For the three of us, there wasn’t a doubt in our mind that we were in for an awesome time at one of the events which kicked off the 2012 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

We walked out of the elevator, ears popping from the climb, walked down a dark corridor and up some stairs for our High Tea experience on a leisurely Sunday afternoon. We looked forward to cocktails, savoury treats, sweet things and the best teas. Who wouldn’t want to do all this while enjoying some time with the girls? Utter bliss.

As Ruza, Alison and I walked from the dark corridor and into the light – this is what we saw.

The view was even more extraordinary than I had expected. Maybe this was naive, but being a foodie, I hadn’t thought much about the venue. I was just looking forward to beautiful tiered trays of food,  tea pots and feeling a bit posh seated together for the afternoon and eating a bit of this and that.

Well – it’s lucky I had underestimated the views and venue, because this was certainly not “high tea”. The only thing “high” about it was the size of the building.

As everyone arrived, we were ushered into a space and the girls and I were left asking if this was where we were meant to sit. We were told that yes, this is where we would be for the first part of the two-hour session, and then we would be moved into another area. We wondered where the proper tables were as we sat on the cushioned benches with little tables near them. The place was filling up fast – so we thought we’d better find a spot quick!

We were offered cocktails as we walked in – which were fantastic! This one was a “lamington” themed drink. Amazing!

But there were no fancy tiers of little cakes and quiches – the little morsels were brought around by smiling waiters who explained what each item was and what it contained.

There were smoked salmon finger sandwiches, as well as some quiches and sausage rolls. But, they certainly weren’t plentiful and more alcohol flowed then savoury food, including this yummy apple punch – which was lovely over ice.

Drinks continued to flow, with the smiling and helpful bartender only too happy to provide us each with a glass of bubbly.

But with our move to the bar for more drinks and to enjoy the amazing scenery from the other side – we had nowhere to sit. So, juggling our napkins, sandwiches and champagne, we stood and chatted.

We kept an eye out as some girls moved and quickly slinked over to where they had been sitting to talk a bit more.

In this time, we were only approached one more time with an offer of savoury food. The view was ever-present. We couldn’t stop looking at it!

Immersed in conversation, we looked up to find the room had all but cleared. Ruza asked a waitress as she walked passed where everyone had gone – and we were informed that everyone had moved to the other side of the building for dessert. We knew because we enquired at the beginning that this was going to happen, but we thought we’d be told. So, we gathered our things and off we went.

In this new space there were proper tables and chairs (YAY) and a small buffet of desserts. But, to our dismay, every table was full! So, we perched ourselves at a tall table – with no chairs. In my best heels, my feet were starting to hurt! But, being on a girls day out – nothing could dull our moods.

The desserts were lovely, ranging from the traditional pav, to black forest cake, scones with jam and cream.

But, it just didn’t feel like high tea! At this stage I was beginning to wonder where the “tea” actually was! I scanned the room and noticed it on a table perched in the corner. There were canisters with fancy tea bags – not a tea pot in site … and a great big urn with hot water.

Tea bags – at high tea? My future mother-in-law, being a tea enthusiast, would have been horrified!

We spent a lot of time eyeing other tables with envy – until we finally saw someone make a move. But, sadly, wrestling our drinks and plates, we just weren’t quick enough and someone got the table before us. We milled around a little longer before someone left the little chairs and table in the middle of the room – where we got to sit and relax for the rest of the afternoon.

Just as we got comfortable, we were informed it was time to go.

At the end of the day, we had fun because we were three friends enjoying each other’s company. The venue was amazing, the staff we very nice and the food was yummy, although we wish we had been offered more savoury things. But, at the end of the day, this was cocktails and canapes – not the formal, strucutred High Tea which was what was advertised, we had paid very well for at $85 a head and were therefore expecting. I think if it didn’t have such extraordinary views – we would have walked out very disapointed. But, just looking out the window was an experience in itself. But if it’s not High Tea on offer – don’t call it that.

On our way down we stopped in the next level down to enjoy the views some more.

It was a truly beautiful experience and I think I can speak for us all when I say the view and the great company where the highlight of our day. Thanks girls for being so awesome! XX

Photos by Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi and Lisa Foreman

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