Friday, July 27, 2012

Christmas in July High Tea at Cobblestone Tea House

Christmas in July at Cobblestone Tea House 
27 Lamington St, New Farm

I went through a phase, maybe 2 years back, when I was raving nuts about high tea. I had a personal goal of trying EVERY high tea establishment in Brisbane. I didn't succeed... and the appeal of small things eaten slowly gradually faded away.

Until NOW. A couple of weeks ago, something happened. I can't put my finger on exactly what the defining moment was, but suddenly all those cravings resurfaced. I wanted tile-sized sandwiches with no crust. I wanted baby scones and tiny tarts. I wanted dainty cutlery. I wanted things served in tiers.

Whilst browsing through my food resources, I spotted Cobblestone Tea House. An online search revealed very promising reviews indeed. I really liked the sound of things being baked to order. Cobblestone makes all their treats on site, rather than using frozen pre-made pastries and desserts.

I tried to make a booking for regular high tea (on a normal day they offer 'high tea' and 'decadent high tea' depending on how hungry you are and/or how much you want to spend) but no sittings were available for nearly a month. I was offered a sitting at their Christmas in July special, which was only in 2 weeks time from when I made the call. I snatched that up quick smart and notified my mother that she would be coming along.

Mum and I were the first to arrive. When we entered, I realized why it's so difficult to get a booking... Cobblestone Tea House is tiny. The space is similar to that of a moderate living room and accordingly, there isn't much room for tables and diners. On the morning we went, 4 x tables for 2 were set up.

To be honest, I wasn't thrilled about the Christmas in July theme. I don't love Christmasy foods and was expecting a lot of that served instead of regular high tea offerings (which is what I really wanted). Luckily, when I read the menu describing what was to come, I saw that the usual sandwiches, scones and so forth were still there... just altered a bit to fit the theme.

Christmas tea

What is high tea without tea? Although I'm largely a coffee fanatic, I waivered the option of coffee to go with tea. As it happened, they had a Christmas tea available too. The tea had notes of vanilla and almond with some mild spices (cinammon, nutmeg etc). Unlike the chai teas that I get at home, this wasn't too spicy and tasted fine without milk. It was much nicer than I expected.

Because Christmas is all about indulgence and celebration, it was fitting that our high tea was served with a glass of sparkling wine. Too bad I had to drive that morning. Mum polished off both our wines and she got very jolly indeed.

By the time our food was served, we were both quite hungry. The high tea arrived in the traditional 3 tiers of savory, neutral (scones) and sweet.

Savory tier

We started at the savory tier on the bottom. I dived for the mushroom and duck vol au vent. It was the first morsel of food that I would taste at Cobblestone.

Duck and mushroom vol au vent filling

WOW. This was delicious! The filling was so flavorsome and creamy and the puffy exterior was flaky and crunchy. I did not expect that from a tea shop. What a great way to start things off.

The ribbon sandwiches were all lovely and tasty with true flavors and soft, fresh bread. My favorite was the turkey and cranberry. I wasn't crazy about the pumpkin in pastry spoon. The pastry was a bit tough and it seemed more like a novelty.

Neutral tier

The next tier was the scone tier. I can never get tired of scones. It must be something about their delicious blandness that keeps me wanting more. The cream was great, the jam was great, the scones... on the most part were good.

Scone close-up

I have to be honest though. I think they might have been a touch undercooked. The middle of the baby scones weren't just soft and slightly chewy. They tasted doughy and floury too. There were minced fruit pies on this tier but I never like those so I can't really comment.

Sweet tier

Finally, mum and I reached the dessert tier. I loved the shortbread. It was buttery and crumbly and just the right size (any more and I would've still eaten it but felt sick after). The mini gingerbread biscuits were cute and tasted good too. I was less rapt about the window biscuts.

Mum and I did have a good time at Cobblestone Tea House. I think the place has promise. I think I would have preferred the regular high tea menu, given that I didn't like some of the specific Christmas offerings. Although the scones were undercooked, I thought the quality of food was of high standard. The duck vol au vent was divine.
The Cobble Stone Tea House on Urbanspoon

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