Afternoon Tea: Sir Stamford, Circular Quay

December 21, 2009

When it’s a dear friend’s birthday, you can be guaranteed of at least one thing – some damn fine company – even if the food and venue was a letdown. Today it was Raspberri Cupcake’s birthday and what better way for five ladies to celebrate than afternoon tea?

Sir Stamford’s olde world charm

Sydney is quite spoilt with afternoon tea venues but most have failed to impress. Sir Stamford at Circular Quay, with its opulent interiors and Victorian charm, was chosen because of one happy review.

Sadly our planned afternoon of girly indulgence went downhill as soon as we walked in. First our booking for a Traditional High Tea ($40 p.p.) was nowhere to be found, despite having made the reservation a fortnight ago and calling to reconfirm later. Luckily (for them that is), a spare table was set up quickly while we waited awkwardly at the doorway.

Of course, not having our booking meant that they had no knowledge of the birthday girl’s nut allergy (which she informed when she made the phantom reservation). So we had to send back some of the food to be replaced by nut-free alternatives. It has to be said that despite the mishaps, the service remained warm and attentive.

Umm, chicken sandwich…

The food was beautifully presented on the requisite tiered cake trays with one pastry number served on a separate side plate. Our dainty sandwiches were quickly scoffed down with much enjoyment on my part (not so much with the cold vege wrap) and that pastry morsel tasted like a delicious vegetarian curry puff.

Vegetarian wrap

Mysterious pastry morsel

The scones, however, didn’t fare so well. Looking more like sagging mammaries than scones, the taste was floury and strange. Like it was made with bad butter. Everybody else also detected something ‘cheesy’ in the scone but like I said… bad butter.

Note to Stamford: two tiny saucers of strawberry jam may be adequate for one but not so with five girls and ten scones.

Vanilla creme brulee with a pistachio crust

Without harping on too much, this was the dessert tray in a nutshell:

Vanilla crème brulee with a pistachio crust – brulee was incredibly thick and ‘eggy’. Tasted more like egg yolk than a beautiful vanilla custard.

Chocolate cake (thingies) – tasted powdery and strongly of bitter cocoa (in fact I breathed in the powderiness and started coughing).

Fruit Tartlet
– hard, dry pastry and needed more pastry cream.

Mini Vanilla Cupcake – nothing to sing about and a little dry.

Lemon Meringue Tartlet – thank god for the magic of zesty curd to perk up my forlorn tastebuds.

Berry fruit tartlet

Maybe I’m just annoyingly fussy with my ‘Tea’ or we had too high of an expectation but despite having an amazingly fun afternoon, we left disappointed. The venue was beautiful and the Ronnefeldt teas were divine but the food (and scones) desperately needed to be on the same level (in fact it was one of my least favourite afternoon tea menus ever). My tip for now, stick with The Four Seasons; up to now, the most pleasant teas that I’ve tried, cheaper than most Sydney venues but unbelievably great value.

High Tea is served everyday from 1-5 pm. Bookings are essential.

The Bar @ Sir Stamford at Circular Quay

93 Macquarie Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9252 4600


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Simon December 22, 2009 at 09:35

Wow! Sounds like a serious fail all around, from the reservation, nut allergy issues, pink “chicken” sandwiches, cheezy scones, stingy jam portions, eggy custard (overcooked, if I'm not mistaken), powdery chocolate thing and dried out pastries.

That a serious list of issues to have to pay the pleasure of $40 per person.

I know where I'm NOT going for high tea. Not that I high tea, but still… :)


Kitchen Butterfly December 21, 2009 at 18:24

Oh, so sorry you guys had a bad high tea…one disappointment, after the other. On a positive note though, your photos rock…..solid so….take delight in that. Commiserations to the birthday girl too


Jacq December 21, 2009 at 11:26

I love your description of the scones haha when you mentioned it I thought, “omg they really do look like sagging mammaries!”. I've been to the QVB Tea Room which was great but have yet to try other high tea places.


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella December 21, 2009 at 10:40

What a shame about the afternoon tea! :( I do love Ronnefeldt tea but “sagging mammaries” (I remained fixated by the imagery) are not good!


A cupcake or two December 21, 2009 at 09:53

I did a walk in at Sir Stamford and got rejected. First impressions count. So sorry the high tea wasnt nicer.


Conor @ HoldtheBeef December 21, 2009 at 07:48

Oh dear, sagging mammary scones? That so badly needs to be written on a comment card or something for the restaurant. They should serve perky scones or none at all!


Forager December 21, 2009 at 05:04

A shame about the stuffup but you guys sound like you took it in your stride!


Kate December 21, 2009 at 03:00

Oh Karen, Im so sorry the day didn't turn out as planned. Have you tried the Observatory Hotel afternoon tea? Ive heard its very good.


Stephcookie December 21, 2009 at 00:03

HAHAHA sagging mammaries!! So wrong, but so spot on! Thanks for celebrating my bday with me, sorry the high tea was so sorely disappointing for all of us :( Tea Room next time to make up for it!


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