Just in time for Mother’s Day, the InterContinental Melbourne hotel, located in the heritage listed Rialto on Collins Street, has just launched High Coffee, available every afternoon from 2-5pm for $55 per person.
I was invited to try tidbits from the classic three-tiered afternoon tea set along with the coffee blends from Espresso di Manfredi, including ‘Audacia’, a blend from Sumatran and Indian Arabicas with a touch of Kenyan and ‘Chiaro’ a blend primarily featuring beans from Papua New Guinea. Not being a coffee drinker, I roped in my three-coffees-a-day friend to help imbibe the double doses of caffeine!
On arrival you’re offered a deeply rich Espresso martini along with an impressive range of savoury and sweet treats on a silver three-tiered tray. Non coffee drinkers can request a classic martini, soft drinks or a choice of Ronnefeldt ’Teastar’ collection teas.
On the top tier were teeny tiny sandwiches – a twist on the classic smoked salmon poppy seed bagel with the cream cheese replaced with lemon myrtle marscapone, delicate roasted chicken and avocado sandwiches with a bush tomato relish and a Wagyu beef mini panini with a tart cucumber relish and sprigs of baby watercress.
The pretty plate of sweet treats included a dense chocolate and macadamia slice, a mini-pav of sugary meringue, cream and fresh berries and my favourite, a delicate bite of pistachio macaron with a chocolate ganache filling. The least successful sweet was the vanilla pannacotta topped with a raspberry coulis – while I love the presentation of using doll-sized preserving jars and carved wooden spoons, I found the pannacotta a bit watery in texture so it was more soupy than solid.
No afternoon tea would be complete without scones and the InterContinental serve plain and raisin scones warmed, nested in a thick linen napkin to keep the scones at the right temperature, with double cream and strawberry jam.
An unexpected surprise in addition to the traditional three-tiered selection was a fourth plate of hot savoury hor d’oeuvres – flaky miniature, boeuf bourgignon pies, prosciutto and asparagus quiches and warm feta and olive muffins – plus a refreshing palate cleanser of raspberry sorbet.
As you work your way through the savouries a Bodum espresso glass of Café Freddo (iced coffee) arrives and with the sweets you’re given a choice of another coffee or an intense Café Corretto (espresso with a shot of grappa) to really get the party started.
Market Lane Bar has a full wine and alcoholic beverage selection (including one of Melbourne’s most extensive whiskey collections) so your afternoon tea can easily segue into a night on the town.
In an extra touch of luxury you can choose to partake in High Coffee while sinking into the plush leather couches of the elegant Market Lane Bar or take your coffee and treats the tea in your room’s private balcony overlooking the grand central atrium of the hotel created from two adjoining buildings of Victorian gothic architecture.
From each Balcony Room you can also hear the free jazz concerts that are held on the last Friday of every month from 5pm to late, providing you with a private box experience combined with the comfort of your own five-star hotel room.
If you like your coffee (and even if you don’t) I think High Coffee for $55 a head is great value relative to other afternoon teas I’ve tried around Melbourne, especially when weekend rates at some establishments can stretch to $60+. The classics-with-a-twist menu is interesting and there’s plenty of food to share, the surroundings are cosy and glamorous at the same time…and for coffee fiends you’ll drink enough caffeine to keep you buzzing all night!
High Coffee, Market Lane Bar, lobby level InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, 495 Collins Street, Melbourne +61 3 8627 1568
Cost: $55 a head, includes Espresso Martini, iced coffee and choice of coffee/cafe corretto, savoury and sweet bites
Served daily 2pm – 5pm
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