The Waiting Room

Posted on October 25, 2012

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So The Waiting Room (Crown Casino Hotel Lobby, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank VIC) just made it past its 2nd birthday as Neil Perry announces his departure from the bar. Apparently Mr Perry wants to wind back his involvement in the lobby bar/high tea venue to focus on his restaurant ventures (Rockpool, Spice Temple and the up and coming Rosetta, all also within the Crown Casino Complex). I’m not sure when his departure will be, or if it already is effective, but here’s to hoping that the quality of food and service will remain at the same high standard.

I had the pleasure of sampling the afternoon tea (from 2pm onwards) offered by The Waiting Room just about a month ago, and was really pleased with the experience. At $49 per person with coffee/tea only, it was reasonably good value for money, which is perhaps a little unexpected given the lavish surroundings. Indeed the decor is anything but shy; it’s almost ostentatious. And wait till you see the toilets!

Tucked in one side of Crown’s hotel lobby, The Waiting Room’s tables and seats spill out a little into the general lounge area. The Waiting Room’s interior is surprisingly small but for some reason, this does not diminish its sense of grandeur. The plush seats, mirrored surfaces and glistening light fixtures helps out quite a bit in that regard I believe. The space was dimly lit giving a sense of intimacy. It was rather lovely and oozed of old world charm. Arguably all of this is rather fitting for an afternoon tea experience (and all served on a three tiered silver platter mind you!), but while I wanted to like the decor, I found it a bit hard to. This would be because the day of my outing, the sun was out in all its glory. We were blessed with one of those very rare sunny Spring days in September and all I wanted to do was to sit and bask in the sun but darn The Waiting Room’s lack of windows! I’m sure if it had been a more typical Melbourne Spring day with grey skies and gusty winds, I would have been more appreciative of  its opulent design.

Foodwise, The Waiting Room hit the right notes for me. Importantly, there was a good combination of savory and sweet pieces. While I am a self professed sweet lover, I find most afternoon teas to be too heavily geared on sweets and often the savory elements are like an afterthought. I actually need the savory bits to feel fully sated and was pleased that The Waiting Room seemed to give some thought in their provision of the savory starters. There were 2 savory pastries and 4 finger sandwiches (L-R: cucumber and chive butter; chicken and walnut; smoked salmon and cream cheese; and egg and caviar), all of which were rather delicious and left me hankering for more.

But it was onward to the sweet courses. The orange and vanilla scones served with house made strawberry jam and cream were delightfully fluffy. Then, to tackle the 5 mini desserts (L-R: fairy eclair; mince tart; alfajore; chocolate, peanut and caramel tart; and passionfruit mirror). I know it might not look like too much food, but we struggled to finish it all and by the end of the affair, my friend and I were both carrying rather large food babies.

It would be fair to say that everything was tasty; the standouts would have to be the egg and caviar sandwich, scones and passionfruit mirror. There was also a good selection of teas leaves to choose from. Service was polite and prompt. It’s a pleasant afternoon tea venue I would recommend and wouldn’t hesitate going back to, on the proviso that it manages to stay as good without Neil Perry’s input of course.

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