The Hotel Windsor, Melbourne

by lex on February 12, 2014

The Hotel Windsor

The Hotel Windsor

Afternoon tea is one of my favourite pastimes. I’ve written about the Wentworth Afternoon Tea at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth and high tea at The Tea Cosy. I’ve also experienced Lenôtre Afternoon Tea at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth (without a doubt my favourite afternoon tea to date), the buffet high tea at Swissôtel Sydney, and afternoon tea at The Observatory Hotel (now The Langham). But there are many more I would like to try (The Victoria Room and The Tea Room for starters).

The tradition of afternoon tea has been synonymous with The Hotel Windsor since 1883. That’s 131 years of afternoon tea! The Hotel Windsor’s Afternoon Tea has been on my wish list for quite a while, so when we booked a trip to Melbourne to celebrate our anniversary making a reservation at The Hotel Windsor was one of the first things I did.

The Hotel Windsor Lion

The Hotel Windsor Lion

Afternoon Tea – $69.00 per person weekdays

  • Ribbon Sandwiches
    – Smoked salmon, creamy avocado, dill
    – Chicken, apple, mayonnaise
    – Egg, mayonnaise, snow pea sprouts
    – Virginia ham, Dijon mustard
    – Cucumber, sour cream, chives
  • The Hotel Windsor’s Famous Traditional & Sultana Scones Baked Daily with double cream and a selection of Windsor jams
  • Our Summer pastries
    – Raspberry delice – rich chocolate sponge, raspberry compote, dark chocolate mousse, raspberry liquor
    – Elderflower jelly – elderflower jelly with fresh raspberry, vanilla custard
    – Mango macaroon – mango ganache, blueberry compote
    – Mini pistachio & cherry gateau – pistachio jaconde, vanilla bavaroise, cherry jelly, pistachio velvet spray
    – Victoria sponge with rose water cream – traditional Victoria sponge, rose water, vanilla cream, strawberry, white chocolate topping
  • Includes tea, coffee and a complimentary glass of French sparkling wine
Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

French sparkling wine – NV Louis Perdrier Brut.

I heard Louis and immediately thought Louis Roederer but alas it was Louis Perdrier, a French brand but one I’d not heard of. A crisp brut with numerous small bubbles, while no Louis Roederer the Louis Perdrier was quite a pleasant dry sparkling. What’s more, we received a complimentary refill that went down a treat.

French sparkling wine - NV Louis Perdrier Brut

French sparkling wine - NV Louis Perdrier Brut

Ribbon Sandwiches – Smoked salmon, creamy avocado, dill.

The first thing I noticed about the ribbon sandwiches at The Hotel Windsor was how perfectly cut they were, almost identical in size. Smoked salmon is quite often paired with cream cheese and so I was happy to see avocado make an appearance. Accordingly smooth and creamy it was a nice match to the salmon but what I appreciated the most was the good amount of dill used. A herb that can easily overpower everything in comes into contact with here it was just right.

Ribbon Sandwiches – Chicken, apple, mayonnaise.

Moist chicken and crisp apple made for a delicious sandwich, the sweetness of the apple a great addition to the chicken and something I might just have to try at home. Dylan’s favourite.

Ribbon Sandwiches – Egg, mayonnaise, snow pea sprouts.

Egg sandwiches are either really good or absolutely horrible. The Hotel Windsor’s take on this classic ribbon sandwich filling wasn’t heavy handed with the mayonnaise and the inclusion of snow pea sprouts brought a satisfying crispness to it.

Ribbon sandwiches

Ribbon sandwiches

Ribbon Sandwiches – Virginia ham, Dijon mustard.

I was a little hesitant as I moved on to the fourth finger sandwich. It included mustard (I still don’t like condiments, though maybe one day I will come around) and a rather thick piece of ham. Dylan and I are fans of shaved ham, thin slithers of ham that just melt in the mouth. This was never going to melt on the mouth but thankfully it was of the finest quality and there wasn’t too much mustard so it turned out to be quite an enjoyable little sandwich.

Ribbon Sandwiches – Cucumber, sour cream, chives.

Of course I had saved the best for last. The most common ribbon sandwich filling, and in my opinion the pinnacle of ribbon sandwich fillings, cucumber. There wasn’t too much filling in sight but that didn’t prevent the flavours coming through. Light and refreshing with a slight sourness and delicate onion flavour of the chives finishing it off.

Ribbon sandwiches

Ribbon sandwiches

Mango macaroon – mango ganache, blueberry compote.

Macarons are all the rage at the moment. It feels like they’ve been all the rage for far too long. I’m sorry, I’m just not a huge fan. Yes, they can be nice. But there are so many other desserts worthy of far more attention. I digress. The mango macaron was pleasant with a punchy mango ganache. Not bad.

Mango macaroon - mango ganache, blueberry compote

Mango macaroon - mango ganache, blueberry compote

Mini pistachio & cherry gateau – pistachio jaconde, vanilla bavaroise, cherry jelly, pistachio velvet spray.

Similar to my lack of understanding of the obsession with macarons is the popularity of pistachios. But when used appropriately they can turn ordinary desserts into something rather spectacular. Layers of pistachio jaconde, vanilla cream and cherry jelly took me by surprise. A nice combination of flavours and delicate dessert.

Mini pistachio & cherry gateau - pistachio jaconde, vanilla bavaroise, cherry jelly, pistachio velvet spray

Mini pistachio & cherry gateau - pistachio jaconde, vanilla bavaroise, cherry jelly, pistachio velvet spray

Raspberry delice – rich chocolate sponge, raspberry compote, dark chocolate mousse, raspberry liquor.

Chocolate and berries are just made to be. Layers of chocolate and raspberry of various forms and textures made for a nicely balanced chocolate dessert that wasn’t overly sweet nor overly rich. With chocolate at its core and black forest tones I quite enjoyed this delice.

Raspberry delice - rich chocolate sponge, raspberry compote, dark chocolate mousse, raspberry liquor

Raspberry delice - rich chocolate sponge, raspberry compote, dark chocolate mousse, raspberry liquor

Victoria sponge with rose water cream – traditional Victoria sponge, rose water, vanilla cream, strawberry, white chocolate topping.

A thick pillar of rose water and vanilla cream sandwiched between two discs of Victoria sponge. The texture wasn’t quite right and this dessert was neither here nor there. The Victoria sponge was dominated by rose and white chocolate. I thought this was the weakest dessert of the day.

Victoria sponge with rose water cream - traditional Victoria sponge, rose water, vanilla cream, strawberry, white chocolate topping

Victoria sponge with rose water cream - traditional Victoria sponge, rose water, vanilla cream, strawberry, white chocolate topping

Elderflower jelly – elderflower jelly with fresh raspberry, vanilla custard.

The final treat from the sweet tier was served in a funnel shaped shot glass. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much and when I saw the plastic spoon that accompanied the shot glass my expectations dwindled. That’s the funny thing about expectations, they’re a feeling or belief, and are so often turned on their head. It turns out the vanilla custard in this little shot glass was a nice set custard with good amount of vanilla. Elderflower jelly added an aromatic sweetness and another textural component while fresh raspberries added little hints of tartness.

Elderflower jelly - elderflower jelly with fresh raspberry, vanilla custard

Elderflower jelly - elderflower jelly with fresh raspberry, vanilla custard

The Hotel Windsor’s Famous Traditional & Sultana Scones Baked Daily with double cream and a selection of Windsor jams.

Scones are my favourite part of afternoon tea. Sometimes I’ll save them for last and sometimes I’ll eat them after the ribbon sandwiches and before the sweets to ensure I won’t be too full to fit them in (ha! like when has that ever happened?!) Dylan and I decided to progress from the bottom tier up – sandwiches, sweets, scones. With its 131 year history I had high expectations for The Hotel Windsor’s scones and thought it best to save them for last. They are called “The Hotel Windsor’s Famous Traditional & Sultana Scones” after all. But… here it comes… my expectations were sadly not met.

The Hotel Windsor's Famous Traditional & Sultana Scones Baked Daily with double cream and a selection of Windsor jams

The Hotel Windsor's Famous Traditional & Sultana Scones Baked Daily with double cream and a selection of Windsor jams

The tops were glazed and looked quite good but the shell was a tad dry and the centre a little doughy. I wasn’t sure if they’d been over-kneaded or baked in an oven that was too hot but they didn’t compare to The Tea Cosy’s scones. The strawberry jam on the other hand was absolutely stunning. I like my scones served with lashings of jam and a huge dollop of cream. I tried as best I could to get a nice dollop of cream but there was no chance of that happening, the cream was dense and grainy, a sign of over-whipping. Sadly the scones let the afternoon tea down.

The Hotel Windsor's Famous Traditional & Sultana Scones Baked Daily with double cream and a selection of Windsor jams

The Hotel Windsor's Famous Traditional & Sultana Scones Baked Daily with double cream and a selection of Windsor jams

Tea – The Hotel Windsor Afternoon Blend.

Beware of the silverware, it’s hot. Extremely hot. It conducts and retains heat extremely well. So well in fact that I needed to use my napkin to pick the pot up. Nevertheless when I was able to pour a cup of The Hotel Windsor Afternoon Blend I was rewarded with a nice strong tea, a good match to all the sugar I’d just induced.

Tea - The Hotel Windsor Afternoon Blend

Tea - The Hotel Windsor Afternoon Blend

Tea – Lapsang Souchong.

Dylan’s tea choice of Lapsang Souchong was smoky and earthy but not all that refreshing and probably not the best choice with afternoon tea.

Tea - Lapsang Souchong

Tea - Lapsang Souchong

The Hotel Windsor’s Afternoon Tea was rather satisfying but not the best I’ve had. The setting in such an historic building was charming, the crockery and silverware all classic and nicely matched, and the waitstaff were friendly. On the whole I found the sandwiches were nicely seasoned and thoroughly enjoyable. Desserts were a little hit and miss but overall pretty good. Alas it was the scones that disappointed and let the afternoon tea down.

Dining room

Dining room

Once again with bellies full we wandered back to the hotel for a snooze before dinner. The theme of our getaway continued… eat… walk… sleep… repeat. That 3:30am wake-up call was still wreaking havoc with us.

The Hotel Windsor
111 Spring Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9633 6004
The Hotel Windsor Website

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Eva@thehungryplum May 7, 2014 at 6:35 am

Oh no! Surely the scones couldn’t ruin an otherwise great review of this place?
Love High Tea of any kind though, but agree that overcooked scones can be a bit of a deal breaker at times!

Reply

Nigel Maxey May 9, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Dear Lex
Thank you for your beautiful story, I am very impressed by the detail and excellent commentary you have presented.
I have paid particular attention to your comments regarding the scones and cream. I have presented this feedback to the kitchen and am currently checking the consistency of both items, I am confident that they are back to their best. I would be delighted if you get the chance to join me one afternoon to get your opinion.
Again appreciate the excellent story.
Nigel Maxey
Director of Food and Beverage

Reply

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