The glamourous Melbourne CBD hotel InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto is launching an equally glamourous high tea experience from Saturday 3 March called ‘The Clarke Sisters Tea Party’. The afternoon tea is named after the high society Clarke sisters who both married Patrick McCaughan who commissioned the original Rialto building.
I am invited to a media preview of the ‘degustation high tea’ at the Alluvial atrium. I spend 3 hours luxuriating in champagne cocktails, silver tea stands, warm scones and a dessert trolley. Needless to say I LOVE the experience and I’m sure you will too.
I love the theatre of making my own cocktail with the sugar cube, angostura bitters and cognac…
…but for the rest of the afternoon tea I prefer to imbibe fragrant Silver Moon green tea from Singaporean tea company TWG Tea.
To start there is a triple tier of high tea favourites – chicken liver pate, Moreton Bay bug mini brioche sliders and smoked salmon bagel, triple-decker rare beef sandwiches and classic cucumber sandwiches. The bread is all made in house and particularly soft and I particularly like the freshness of the cucumber sandwiches, while the Bay bugs could do with more seasoning or herbs to bring out the subtle flavours of the seafood.
Next is your choice of main course – a vegetarian option of king oyster mushroom tart with pumpkin pulse or meat option of lamb cutlet with truffle mash and pea puree. This unexpected additional course to a traditional afternoon tea format means that most of us are already full by this point!
Undaunted, we head into the scone course with one fruit and one plain buttermilk scone each. They are crumbly and moist and served with strawberry jam, double cream and butter.
To finish you can make a selection from the Rialto Precinct Dessert Trolley – or try one of everything! The trolley features drool-worthy signature cakes from renowned local venues including Vue de Monde (lamingtons), Le Petit Gateau (Frangipane tart, lemon tart), Merchant (white chocolate cheesecake and flourless chocolate cake) and Frederic’s mini eclairs.
My highlights are the silky smoothness of the lemon tart filling, the lightness of the cheesecake and the almond base of the frangipane tart.
The Clarke Sisters Tea Party is $99 per head with a glass of champagne or champagne cocktail or $149 with free flowing champagne for 2 hours. There are five sittings every weekend at 1pm, 1:30pm, 2pm, 2:30pm and 3pm, with 10 people per sitting. If you have fewer than 10 people in your booking then you’ll be paired with other patrons to make up the 10 spots. Note the high tea is only suitable for guests over 16 years old.
The Clarke Sisters Tea Party is possibly one of the most decadent high teas in Melbourne and one for which you should plan as your single meal of the day. The quiet surrounds of Alluvial make it the perfect place to celebrate and catch up with friends and family and the service is friendly and unobtrusive, in keeping with the elegant surroundings.