Afternoon Tea at Little Collins St Kitchen, The Sheraton Melbourne Hotel

Melbourne, Australia
April 2015

I had high hopes for the afternoon tea at the Little Collins St Kitchen, at The Sheraton Melbourne Hotel.  After reading their menu, I thought it would be an interesting take on the normal tea.  They boasted a “Parisian Afternoon Tea” with macarons from La Belle Miette, a local patisserie specializing in macarons.  I hadn’t made it to their shop yet, so I thought I could kill two birds with one stone.

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I ended up being really disappointed.  It all started out ok; but as time went by, things went from bad to worse.

I expected this tea to be pretty casual considering that it was at a Sheraton, and the interior matched my assumption.

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I had made an online reservation for tea, which never seems to be a problem.  When I arrived, a member of the kitchen staff came over and said that they had a rash of people making afternoon tea reservations but then not showing up.  (Who does that?)  So they had tried to call me, but not being from Australia, they weren’t able to reach me on my international number.  They didn’t email me their inquiry though…  Either way, they didn’t have things prepared for my reservation, so they said that the scones would come out in about a half an hour.  I wasn’t too bothered by this as I always start from the savories, anyways.

The Kitchen serves a limited variety of tea from Le Maison du Thé.  The tea was good, but it was really difficult to get anyone to switch teas or otherwise.  The waitstaff that first served me must have finished her shift; because from that point on, I had to make an active search myself to finally find anyone at all.

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The stand came out and didn’t exactly say “Paris” to me, but I thought I’d pass judgement after eating.  The best of the savories was the poached prawns on “brioche” (quotes used purposefully).  The other savories seemed to have been prepared long before being served since the bread/pastry were hard.  The pissaladière, in particular, was too salty.

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Then the scones came out.

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This is what came out after waiting a half and hour.  Needless to say, I was disappointed.  They were extremely overcooked and dry.  Also, the cream wasn’t whipped properly and was flat, and the jam tasted like it came from a jar.

Then the sweets tray came out, and they weren’t what was listed on their menu.  The doughnut was a doughnut.  The pistachio dessert was basically a chocolate pudding with a nut topping.  The strawberry dessert was similar to the pistachio dessert with the substitution of strawberry flavoring.  The cream for this was the same as the scones and the pear dessert base.  It didn’t get better with different pairings.

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I thought I’d end on a high note and left the macarons for last.  Since I hadn’t been to La Belle Miette yet, I didn’t know what to expect.  What I can say is that the macarons seemed to be quite old as they didn’t have the crisp outside that you expect from a quality macaron.

I went on a weekday afternoon, so there weren’t any other patrons.  Even so, you don’t expect a restaurant to turn off the lights on you.  The only lights that were on at 4:00pm were the lights in the kitchen (I was reading).  Then, they proceeded to have a staff meeting in the restaurant while I was there.   After the meeting, the head chef came over and chatted with me.  I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him what I really thought to his face.  He explained that they were trying to upgrade the menus, and he was new to this hotel.  Even still, there were too many problems to put all the blame on a transitional period.

This was the worst afternoon tea experience I had had so far.

Tea 2/5, unlimited, limited variety
Food 1/5
Atmosphere 2/5
Service 1/5
Overall 1.5/5

Sheraton Melbourne Hotel
3:00pm to 5:00pm daily

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