I dropped them an email a few weeks before coming and got an immediate response from one of the staff to confirm my booking. I called them up a second time to amend my booking and the staff on the line was very friendly and helpful. They have already given me a good impression by then.
Being in the precinct of the Claremont Quarter shopping centre, Duchess is very accessible whether by car or by train. Then after the high tea you can easily go for a quick round of shopping.
Me and 3 other people were shown to our table marked with “reserved” when we arrived. The table was set for 3 people but I brought along 1 extra person and there was no fuss about it. The waitress quickly got another set of cutlery and gave us the menus. The most basic package, just tea and nibbles without bubbles, is $30 per person. Quite a reasonable price, I reckon.
So we chose to have the basic package. Tea of choice was English Breakfast and it came in a huge vintage teapot alongside a jar of milk and sugar cubes.
Then came the tier of goodies. Bottom tier were 3 types of sandwiches – smoked salmon, chicken, and cucumber – and quiche. Out of all the sandwiches the smoked salmon was everyone’s favourite. The chicken one hardly had any chicken while the cucumber one could do with more seasoning. The quiche, well can I just say that the quiche I make is better. This one tasted like those store bought frozen ones.
Middle tier was full of mini scones. Traditional plain ones and cheese and chive ones with thickened cream and jam on the side. We found the scones a bit doughy but taste was ok.
Top tier contained the sweet treats. Mini cupcakes and Jean Pierre Sancho’s macarons. I was not a fan of the cupcakes. They were too dense and the lemon flavoured one was too strong. The macarons, well it’s hard to fault Jean Pierre Sancho macarons. We got the jackfruit (we all agreed it tasted like jackfruit though at one point I was more inclined towards passionfruit but it lacked the tanginess), pistachio, and coffee flavoured ones.
If you ask me this was an ok high tea experience. Food is edible but not spectacular and the serving was generous. For someone who didn’t eat the whole day for this high tea I left feeling very full. Service was slow, sometimes painfully so, but once you get someone to come over your table you have their full attention. Requests were served immediately and all the waitresses who served us were all smiles and chatty but not invasive.
To finish off we were given a serve of strawberries with a hint of Grand Mariner and thickened cream.
The overall venue is not too shabby. It is modern inside with a vintage-y feel but from the way it’s facing the sun, it can get really glaring on late afternoons for most parts of the restaurant. The bride is a sucker for vintage china tea sets so if we do chose this venue for her hen’s night at least we know she’ll love the cups and saucers.