If High Tea is all about show, then Chateau Yering puts on a three-ringed performance complete with clowns, jugglers and horses prancing in circles with ribbons in their tails. Indeed the ceilings of Yering’s wondrously restored 19th century entrance halls and drawing rooms seem lofty enough themselves to accommodate any high-wire act of note, with or without the net.
The Yering sumptuousness starts at the front door, from which one is led through a series of rooms redolent with the ornate pastels and deep, deep furnishings of a Pasha’s tent. And as tempted as one might be to forego the tea and spend the afternoon lolling around on those luxuriously soft down cushions, I’d advise against it, because what awaits you when you sit down at the table is just as special.
As we soon discover, the delicious morsels placed in front of us are as manicured as the lawn on the other side of those large Victorian windows with the bluish green tints of the Divide stretching away to the background. After a long tall glass of sparkling French Brut, the sandwiches arrive – sans crust of course –perfect little oblongs of cloud-soft white bread on a tiered platter. One egg, the other keeping it traditional with wafers of cucumber. Yes, cucumber sandwiches! Honestly, one might easily be in Kent, or have been kidnapped into being an extra in one of the earlier episodes of ‘Downton Abbey’ which, when you think about it, is probably not the worse fate in the world.
I then calmed down a bit and tried the smoked salmon blini. Now, I’m wary of salmon as it’s often too salty for my taste, but this was perfect. And just a sliver of enough-ness on a soft sweet bit-sized base. My partner gave me a dark and threatening look as my hand made a move toward hers. It was quickly withdrawn, uninjured.
It’s hard to know what the rather stiff figures framed in cracking oils that stare down at you would make of the next course, but Yering’s nod to Australian modernity had me won over in a heartbeat: party pies! Well, alright, they doubtless go by a fancier name here, but as a lifelong fan of those mini-treats – in this case delicious little twins of lamb and beef - my tick of approval was not long in coming.
Finally the sweets – a large and warm scone per person with enough cream and jam to sink a small vessel and some pink – yes, pink – lamingtons, each a tiny work of art. I nearly restrained myself admirably.
Both of us ordered Earl Grey tea and as the shiny silver pot arrived I lifted the lid with trepidation – loose leaf, thank goodness. We were assured the origins were Sri Lankan (or perhaps I heard the old imperial title, ‘Ceylon’) and it was heady and exotic. If anything, the all-too-common mistake of crowding the tea with too many leaves was made, making it stew a tad quickly, and I would have liked some additional hot water up front, but some was soon provided on request.
Back home, we let the staff off that evening, as after Yering’s highest of High Teas, dinner was not required. Reflecting later that night, the service was faultless, the tea itself marvellous, and the room is really the sort of place that can usually only be admired from behind a rope barrier as hordes of tourists shuffle past you with a brochure in their hand. If there was ever a more perfect setting for a high tea this side of Enid Blyton, I’d certainly like to see it.
42 Melba Highway
Yering VIC 3770
03 9237 3333