Bright blue skies and the NZ zing of freshly mowed grass. So vivid, it makes me squint. Looks like we're getting compensation for the pretend-summer last year and I'm not complaining!
Parnell Rose Garden seems like the idealistic high tea stop for one of these summery days. Kids and pets can scamper around outside and the gorgeous backdrop makes it a great spot for kodak moments. Or Instagrams with #nofilter.
No doubt about it, the location is perfect. Plenty of parking without having to deal with Auckland's hilly streets means you'll be safe with prams and your grandparents.
Parnell Rose Gardens celebrates the tradition of high tea with stark white tablecloths and spotless cutlery. It almost feels like you stepped into a wedding reception with the amount of pristine white and tightly folded napkins.
It makes you sit up a little straighter in one of the wedding reception chairs. There isn't such a wide tea range as other high tea places but more than your average hotel room selection. Each person gets their own loose leaf tea with another pot of hot water to add to as you please.
It must have been a smart thing to book in advance because the food came almost straight away. The tiers were presented to us without any explanation of the bite sized treats. I didn't mind, it was self explanatory anyway but I did wonder why the table next to us had the full service.
Since I've always lived by the mantra “save the best til last”, I reached out for the finger sandwiches. I had a choice of cheese and pickle, ham, and salmon. Good thing there was lots of tea on hand because the bread immediately stuck to the roof of my mouth. From days of bringing sandwiches to school, it's given me a particular dislike for dry sandwiches. The bread was coarse and refused to be soothed by the fillings.
Moving on, my favourites were the quiche and the spinach and feta roll. Something dainty and bite sized but delicious.
The scone layer was the next target. Instead of savoury scones, we were presented with rumbabas and mini muffins. Having been dipped in rum, the rumbabas was a nice addition to the platter. The muffins seemed out of place with the icing topped heads. It tasted like something out of a packet mix – something you would whip up for a birthday party of 30 kids.
After my encounter with the chocolate muffins, it seemed right to have my tea refilled. I caught the eye of our waiter who promptly came over. He sheepishly said that an second serving of tea would cost extra. He must have seen the quick eye exchange between me and my mother because he soon offered to re-top our tea with hot water for free. This of course diluted the tea a lot but I wasn't prepared to pay an extra $5 on top of the requested $35pp for high tea.
Tea drama aside, my fingers moved onto the dessert platter. It was more of a sweet bomb than the decadent richness you'd expect for high teas. Everything was either cream filled or topped with sticky icing. It gives you a chance to slow down and chat while you slowly devour your way through the plate. As a friend recently said “Ladies say 'I'm full' 5 times before they actually mean it”. True story.
Not quite the promised “parisiene delicacies” but I did enjoy the setting and the occasion of going out for high tea. If you're not too fussed about food, this could be a great option for next time. If this doesn't sound like your cup of tea (hehe….) check out the High Tea section to see other scrummy high tea places in Auckland!
Phone: (09) 307 0136
85 Gladstone Road, Parnell, Auckland,