InterContinental Sydney launches High Tea in the historic Treasury building

Sydney loves it’s afternoon teas. Every venue has its own approach; whether it is a modern, contemporary affair or a nostalgic romp through history – much like stepping into the wonderful world of Bridgerton again (thankfully minus a whale bone corset).

The InterContinental Sydney falls into the later category after its glamorous $120m makeover. Eating here isn’t just about entertaining your tastebuds, but how what you see, touch and smell all adds to a unique experience. It’s difficult not to be charmed by The Treasury, the heartbeat of the hotel – which was first built in 1851.

The Treasury & Bar

I arrive at midday and plonk myself down into a glorious sage green velvet sofa hugged by 170 year old sandstone walls and arches. If only they could talk. I would hear tales of how the first vine was planted right under my feet (now replaced with planters and palms), the intrigue of valuables and gold stored in the vault below. This is how Sydney began, the center of commerce, politics and power.

Perhaps not that much is changed, looking around at the city suits doing deals. The place is buzzing. Business meetings are taking place in one corner, some people are tapping away on their computers whilst others are sitting up at the bar enjoying wine and lunchtime nibbles. It’s a home for Sydneysiders and hotel guests.

Sultans Garden tea set

The area reminds me of a clash of cultures, British India twinned with a stylish amber glowing Parisian Bar. Green waistcoated waiters dash around. My attention is grabbed by the dining set. I know its uncouth, but I can’t help but pick it up and find out where this beauty of cheeky monkeys, tigers and gazelles has come from. Its called Sultan’s Garden by William Edwards. Whimsical and stunning.

“Sparkling wine or tea first?” my server asks. Does anyone opt for tea first? “Sometimes” is her reply. A Hunter Valley Bimbadgen cuvee is poured, though I could upgrade to a range of champagnes by the glass from $30 and upwards. I feel like royalty. My own sofa, beautiful fine china, bubbles and sandwiches with their crusts off!

There is a choice of eight teas, which is not the biggest selection if this is where your heart lies. I could have opted for organic chai, rooibos, Australian native but my go to is an Indian origin English Breakfast by Mayde Tea.

egg and salmon sandwiches

A pretty three tier stand is my next focus. I start with sandwiches and swap out mountain pepperberry pastrami with smoked tomato relish for an extra salmon sarnie. Classic fluffy slices of bread are filled with generous amounts of well seasoned boiled egg, herbs with a hint of white truffle.
Its love at first bite. The other is filled with slices of Huon salmon, lemon myrtle, dotted with scampi caviar which pop majestically if I eat slowly enough, which to be fair, is a challenge of will power. There is a savoury addition of a teeny oblong of shortcrust filled with a roasted onion base and dabbed with goat’s cheese. It’s delicious.

Next up are the scones (one traditional, one fruit), served slightly warm but could benefit from more buttery richness in the mix. A spoonful of clotted cream and house-crafted berry preserve elevates the flavours.

For many the cakes are the reason for tea. As a savoury lover, (with the exception of the chocolate parfait) it is a relief they are not sickly sweet. I start with a calamansi tart which is topped with a scorched Italian meringue and two fresh raspberries and have to praise the pastry chef for perfection. The strawberry tart is a beautiful shortcrust pastry with hazelnut frangipane, vanilla and lavender cream, rhubarb preserve and of course a topping of strawberries. Chocolate lovers will adore the 54 % dark Callebaut chocolate parfait with a tonka seed crèmeux, cocoa sable breton and three shards of milk chocolate tuile. It was a little too rich for me!

The service is warm, silky smooth and the ambiance refined and delightful. You will be glad that in this era no corset is required.

InterContinental Sydney The Treasury Ground Level, 117 Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: $89pp Thursday and Friday | $99pp Saturday and Sunday 12:00pm to 2:00pm | 2:30pm to 4:30pm Includes a glass of sparkling wine and tea selection.

About the author

Karen’s corporate job back in the UK had included entertaining clients in some of the best restaurants. This ultimately sparked a curiosity 'Just how do they do that?' (she confesses she was brought up on meat and vegetables, so this was all very exciting). Currently a Mr & Mrs Smith 'Tastemaker', she’s flashpacked around the world, learning about wine, experiencing different cultures and cuisines and had a two- year love affair with it all. Originally from England, she finally settled in Australia and continues to be besotted by food, wine and travel preferring to focus on the luxury end of town (thread count does matter).


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