Sunday, March 14, 2010

Strangers Corridor: High Tea at Parliament House

Strangers Corridor
Parliament House

Spring St Melbourne
Telephone: 03 9651 8483

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 12pm - 2pm (Lunch); 2:30pm - 4pm (High Tea)*
*With the exception of sitting dates

On the first Friday of autumn, I marched the girls up Spring Street with the ever-successful lure of an afternoon tea. Their enthusiasm, however, was somewhat dampened when we arrived at Parliament House.

"Here we are!" I said, waving both hands in a flourish. "Surprise!"

"What are we meant to be eating exactly?" asked YS, suspiciously eyeing the brick wall. The smile on A's face became slightly more fixated.

"Tea!" I said gleefully. "Down Strangers Corridor!"

Clearly, my friends are a long-suffering, patient lot. And after more enigmatic explanations and a security check (during which YS announced that it was lucky she hadn't brought her Swiss Army knife along - clearly not a woman to be messed with), we were escorted through a labyrinth of celestial ceilings, princely pillars and transcedent trappings.

The dining room was indeed located down a corridor - though I noticed nothing peculiar about it, nor any felonious figures lurking about.

Service was très charmant, despite the fact that we were half an hour late for my booking. We were seated immediately, water was poured, and when we were coquettishly captivated by a beautiful, freshly-vacated booth, we were relocated with grace, and the table cleared at once.

Two sumptuous platters were set before us in literally no time at all - one savoury, and one sweet.

Smoked salmon and cucumber finger sandwiches, and two kinds of quiches - ham and spinach, if I recall correctly.

Scones with jam and clotted cream, and an assortment of tempting little tarts - lemon, chocolate, coconut, and macadamia

When you have a window sill at your disposal, you should always use it to the maximum of your bourgeois enjoyment.

Scones make me happy.

I would deem the food above average, and the service was more than exemplary. There were a few little flaws that one could nitpick at, i.e. the quiches and scones were cold when served, and although the tart fillings were flawless, the cases were slightly soggy instead of crumbly. Overall though, portions were more than generous, they offered to pack our leftovers up without being solicited, and tea and water was refilled with great gusto.

Also, the touristy-minded may partake of complimentary tours of Parliament after - either join the one exclusive to diners, or go with the rest of the general public. During these tours you can take pictures like this to prove that you have been enriched in culture and cake.

And the price of pandering to politics and your palate? A very justified $33.00 per person.*

*It should be noted, however, that when I made the booking, I asked whether two 'portions' would suffice for three people, and was told that it would be plenty. I'm still not sure whether we received 'two' or 'three' servings worth in our two platters; we assumed it was three, as the food was so ample, and we were perfectly happy to pay in full. As we reached for the receipt, however, the maître d' shot up, apologised, and insisted on swapping it for a bill for two ($66.00) as per our booking. What a bargain!

Would I return? Yes, and I'd take any visitors to Melbourne with me, as the entire experience was delectably different. It's not every day members of the working class can dine at Parliament - and the entire occasion befittingly marked the end of our summer semester, and our recent transition into the murky study of administrative law!


  1. I love the Strangers Corridor High Tea - such a shame it's only open during the week. I agree - great service, atmosphere, food and price.

    Jetsetting Joyce

  2. Joyce: It's actually because of you that I got to know about this place so hugee thanks, girl! Have you had lunch here before as well?

  3. Ooh.. I never knew one could dine in the Parliament house.. interesting.. and so much cheaper than the Windsor.. but of course, the quality must differ slightly...

  4. Oooh interesting. I'm very interested in high tea lately and this one in Parliament sounds lovely. Noice :-D

  5. msihua: I'm sure the quality at the Windsor is top-notch, I'd love to go sometime, but it'd have to be a really special occasion for the price!

    Esz: Yes, the tea itself may not have been 'outstanding' but the entire experience was excelloint!

  6. ahh, high tea. Anything to justify pigging out on scones and crustless sandwiches. Diggin the surroundings.

    Imagining the sweet smell of those scones!

  7. Ms Baklover: I know! It is so fun when you discover all these places you can surprise and impress friends and family with!

    Adrian: Yes, I figured you'd love it - you're as mad about scones as I am (I would never say more as that's simply not possible!)

  8. I must give this a try when I am back to Melb.

  9. Precious Pea (Ivy): Let me know when you are! :)

  10. Hi
    Just found your most appealing blog. Love the idea of lunch or afternoon tea at Parliament House. Would not have known about it.

  11. Elliot & Sandra: Thanks for dropping by - I've been a fan of your blog for ages!

  12. I didn't know there was high tea in there. Nice little find.

  13. Penny: Neither did any of my friends - so that was good! ;)

  14. Thanks so much! Just booked for afternoon tea and cancelled The Windsor.

  15. I recently won a prize of high tea for 2 in the Stranger's Corridor. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised to read the above reports... I'm now really quite excited and intrigued, can't wait to go! Thank you.