For a pre-Easter treat Gourmet Chick and I cycled down to South Yarra dressed in ladylike garb to partake in an afternoon tea at Burch and Purchese. Though really we should have worn  our Mad Hats as the afternoon was definitely a trip to Wonderland.

In the pink and brown confection of a store you will find chocolates and desserts unlike anything that you’ve seen before – each one a work of art combining unexpected ingredients with a dusting of magic (cue popping candy), all presented in the most delectable displays. One of everything please!

For special occasions Burch and Purchese offer the most exclusive afternoon tea event in town. One table of four people max, one session on Saturdays and Sundays only. The afternoon tea is held in a separate area between the kitchen and the dessert cabinet and is bounded by an awe-inspiring ‘inspiration wall’ – floor-to-ceiling laboratory jars of neatly labelled ingredients. Science meets sweetness indeed.

The event styling is Willy Wonka-esque down to the finest detail, such as the cutlery mat, a pillow of sugar syrup filled with dessert ingredients from cinnamon sticks to Turkish delight.

The $95 experience includes a behind the scenes tour of the Sweet Studio, an afternoon tea menu with tea and mineral water with morsels based around the traditional high tea fancies of sandwiches, scones and pastries – but what you get on the day is up to the chef’s whim. Be prepared to be surprised and delighted.

To start, a choice to T2 teas served in hot pink china cups and saucers. I highly recommend the French Earl Grey and the Chai (though skip the honey and milk, you’ll be ingesting enough dairy and sugar).

I won’t bore you with lists of ingredients and just let the photos speak for themselves. First up, an artful ‘gin and tonic’ refresher with marshmallows, grapefruit, dehydrated fruit and honeycomb.

Although Burch and Purchese are famous for their desserts they still offer some savoury food as part of the afternoon tea. The perfect little chicken sandwich, a deconstructed egg and watercress sandwich and a tomato, basil and olive ‘salad’. The sugared basil leaf and little orbs of olive infused gel were particularly remarkable.

Watch magic happen before your eyes! For ‘scones and jam’ Mr Magician aka Darren Purchese made tiramisu icecream using liquid nitrogen and coupled it with a coffee ‘scone’ crumble and coffee syrup.

A bit of a break while we wait for the final desserts. Time for a backstage tour!

The purpose built chocolate spraying  room. These are where your magical Easter eggs are finished. Very Jackson Pollock.

And now the finale! A two-tiered glass shelf with the B&P version of an opera slice with white chocolate, coffee and a very strong aniseed flavour, a black forest eclair and a tube of their best-selling (and my favourite) chocolate and mandarin cake.

Then the bottom tier – their best-selling coconut, ginger, passionfruit and mint cake.

Banana caramel and chocolate – classic combination done with a twist.

Strawberry, raspberry and coconut, which may be coming off the menu in the future so get in quick!

Apparently no one has every finished the whole afternoon tea set and even two food bloggers were defeated by the number of dishes. I was feeling quite dizzy towards the end! But I’m proud to say apparently I have gotten the furthest of anyone they’ve had in yet :–)

However, not content to go home with a box of leftovers, I also bought some of their unmissable gold bars of salted caramel dipped in dark chocolate and gold dust and the quinoa and orange malted sprinkle. RM scoffed the former when I wasn’t looking (argh!) and the latter went onto my breakfast the next morning – vanilla poached quinces and yoghurt. Makes it look so fancy!

Before you get too excited, the afternoon tea is no longer available (they are completing bookings that have already been made in May) as they are concentrating on launching an evening dessert bar opening sometime in mid/late April. So there is still something to get excited about!

For other amazing dessert in Melbourne, try LuxBite and Pierre Roelofs at Cafe Rosamond.

Afternoon tea, Burch and Purchese Sweet Studio, 647 Chapel St, South Yarra +61 3 9827 7060


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