When it came time for the wonderful Mistress to plan my hens day, I had only one activity in mind that was a must. No strippers or getting drunk for me, thank you. In keeping with my love of food, my only stipulation was to enjoy a morning or afternoon tea at The Tea Room, Queen Victoria Building. Like The Tea Room, Gunners’ Barracks, it is elegantly decorated with beautiful wallpaper, an ornate ceiling, tasselled hanging light fixtures and rich velvet textures throughout. It is a place where I would love to have my wedding but seeing as this will not be the case, a gathering of my female collective made for a pretty good consolation prize.
As we have a group of more than ten people we are required to all pre-order the same food and pre-pay prior to the event, plus there is a time limit due to the popularity of it being wedding season and, hence, hens day season. The time limit was enforced and we were reminded close to the time that we needed to finish up and get going, but in no way was this request rude nor were we rushed during our time there.
It is mid-morning but we all have the ‘Traditional Afternoon Tea’ resulting in many three-tiered stands dotting our round table. The top tier has crustless finger sandwiches – the egg salad ones and ham ones are on white bread, while the tuna ones are on wholemeal. There are also polenta tartlets alongside with thin, crispy cases holding a smooth and creamy polenta filling topped with snipped chives.
The bottom tier has The Tea Room’s famed, crumbly scones served with berry conserve and clotted cream, as well as some spinach pastries. But – aaahhh! – what we’re all looking forward to is the middle tier of miniature sweets. There are tiny strawberry and cream tartlets, macarons, dense chocolate bites, passionfruit shortbread sandwiches, raspberry mousse cake-bites and tiny almond cakes barely the width of two of my fingers.
As we make our way through our tiers, a waiter wanders past with a tray of sandwiches and asks us if we would like a top-up but by this stage we’re all rather full and it’s time for us to leave anyway. We make our way across to Swissôtel where Mistress has arranged for us to enjoy some cocktails at Crossroads Bar. I know I said there were no plans to get drunk, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t going to drink!
We are shown to a rectangular table surrounded by couches and armchairs. We place our order for a range of cocktails and when the waitress returns it is apparent she doesn’t want to serve us. She stands frozen, at the perimeter of our seats, balancing a platter full of drinks and seems to find it too much trouble to place them down. Granted it is difficult due to the number of people with the resulting restricted accessibility to the table, but we would have been happy for her either pass them to us directly or place them all on the table for us to pass around ourselves. We see her rolling her eyes, sighing audibly in exasperation and she was really quite rude.
This contemptuous behaviour continues when we place our order for a second round of drinks and Ms Japan tells us she thinks the waitress looks familiar to her. She thinks they might have gone to school together and we jokingly ask if she had offended the waitress in the past for us to be receiving such shocking table service!
We linger at Crossroads for a few hours, some friends leave and the rest of us order some potato wedges to nibble on. A few more hours pass by quickly amidst much conversation and laughter, and it’s time to move onto dinner at Macchiato. It’s a Saturday night and they’re busy so it’s lucky that Mistress has made a reservation. Food is ordered to be shared across the table and we start with salt and pepper calamari that has lightly dusted calamari served on salad of rocket, tomato, cucumber and red onion dressed with aioli. The mixed dips plate has tzatziki, hummus and taramosalata served with a side salad and plenty of toasted pitta bread.
Then it’s Caesar salad with a creamy dressing and plenty of cheese over the top as well as grilled haloumi that is served with slices of Roma tomato, olive oil and lemon wedges. Salty, squeaky goodness – yum!
As Macchiato is famous for its woodfired pizzas and because they are such a great sharing food, we order four for the table. The ‘Macchiato’ has roasted pumpkin, roasted capsicum, grilled onion, eggplant, mushroom, fetta (which we discover is made from goats’ milk through taste), mozzarella and rosemary. The ‘El-Chorizo’ provides smoky spiciness with Spanish chorizos, capsicum, mushroom and basil, while the ‘Atlantic’ is much lighter with garlic prawns, baby rocket, bocconcini and sundried tomatoes. Then there’s the ‘Hawaiian’ with smoked ham, pineapple and mozzarella for universal appeal.
We finished the day full of food and not at all late into the evening. Some ladies had left newly married husbands at home while others had left children in the care of husbands, so I sincerely hope all involved had a good time. I would like to once again thank Mistress for organising everything and for all the attendees forbidding me from paying for any of the day’s activities. I had a truly enjoyable day surrounded by the women I love and went home with my tiara still firmly in place.
Level 3, North End of Queen Victoria Building, 455 George St (btwn Druitt St & Market St), Sydney NSW
Tel: (02) 9283 7279
Opening Hours: 7 days 11am-5pm (lunch menu 12pm-3pm only)
Level 8, 68 Market St, Sydney NSW
Tel: (02) 9238 7082
Opening Hours: Sun-Thurs 10am-11pm
Fri & Sat 10am-12am
Tel: (02) 9262 9525
Opening Hours: 7 days 7am-late