Elysian Afternoon Teas is a vintage high tea business run by Therese Slee which offers small groups of 2-12 people the experience of high tea without the mess or the fuss.
Therese delivers high tea to your home by bringing her stash of vintage china (including a large collection of unique souvenir teaspoons), linen and table decorations. All the catering is done from her home kitchen. Some of the recipes come from the Ritz in London, some are treasured family recipes and some have been created by Therese.
The location of this event was at the Newport Railway Workshops, which once used to be the largest industrial complex in Victoria. I never knew this place existed! The original 1880s workshops are now occupied by railway preservation groups Steamrail Victoria, Diesel Electric Rail Motor Preservation Association Victoria and R707 Operations and used by the Department of Infrastructure for the storage of disused trams and other rail rollingstock. The Australian Railway Historical Society Railway Museum is located south of the workshops.
I’ve eaten a lot of high tea in Melbourne, but never before in a vintage railway carriage! For this occasion we were very lucky to use the historic Avoca Dining Car, which was built at the Newport Railway Workshops and used for the Royal Visit of the Duke and Duchess of York on their visit to Australia in 1927. It was on loan from R707 Operations which charters locomotives, carriages and trains for private tours, corporate events, tours and filming across Victorian rail network.
Our high tea began with a flute of bubbly or home made ice tea in the spectacular Art Deco interior of lounge car 708, which was built in the 1940s and further decorated with some items from Seddon vintage shop Once More, With Feeling.
We were then ushered into the snug dining car. Each gorgeously decorated table held a plate of traditional crustless sandwiches and scones with home made jam while pots of Madame Flavour teas were brought around.
The sandwiches were not terribly exciting to be honest as the bread was too soggy and thin. The traditional fillings included chicken paté and lettuce, cucumber and egg.
The cake trolley was my highlight, filled to the brim with excellent home made treats. I dived into the moist Lemon Cheese Cream Butter Cake, a crispy hazelnut meringue filled with chocolate ganache and a tart with a hazelnut base and spiced apple butter filling.
The ginger fluff sponge was simply amazing, like eating puffs of cloud sandwiching light whipped cream.
From the hum of conversation a grand time was had by all as we dined to our fill in unique surroundings. Best of all, $10 of each ticket went to McAuley Community Services for Women, which provides much needed services for women and their children who are escaping family violence and for women who are homeless.
If you’re interested in the works of R707 Operations they restore and maintain heritage locomotives and carriages and can provide tours by appointment. They also regularly provide comfortable family friendly and affordable vintage rail travel day train trips to regional centres in in Victoria.