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Review: Lunch and High Tea at the Wedgwood Tea Room

Beatrice Smith

Chilled champagne, ribbon sandwiches and mini opera cakes are not something you might immediately associate with the raw, rustic landscapes of a Tom Roberts painting, however the Wedgwood Tea Room at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) manages to marry the two flawlessly.

When the HerCanberra team were invited to experience lunch and High Tea in the Wedgwood Tea Room, one of the NGA staff told us that patrons have commented that the view – sweeping from the sculpture garden six floors below to the lake – is rather like a Tom Roberts painting as the foreground is dominated by eucalypt tree tops and the background is mountaintops and blue sky.

Wedgewood Tea Room 2015, image courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia

Wedgwood Tea Room 2015, image courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia

Inside, the combination of crisp white linen tablecloths, royal blue velvet and golden accents contrast beautifully with the view, giving you the feeling of being transported back to the early 1900s, when Roberts was painting his iconic landscapes.

The Wedgwood elements immediately lifted the experience to new levels, with an eclectic collection of plates, teacups and teapots decorating the table throughout the service (luckily if you fall in love with a particular piece you can purchase them from the counter) and the location of the Tea Room, tucked away at the back of the NGA, six stories up, gives an intimate, exclusive feel to the service.

Wedgewood Tea Room 2015, image courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia

Wedgwood Tea Room 2015, image courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia

We started with a chilled glass of Veuve Clicquot and were walked through our menu. For the purposes of the review (ahem) we decided to try all three styles of lunches. The lunches are one plate wonders with lots of different elements – a sort of Australian antipasto.

The Farmhouse Board is served with either slow roast beef or salt baked salmon (both were delicious) and are accompanied by lemon scented kipfler potato mash, iceberg lettuce with radishes and dill, a fine slice of honey and sherry caramel roasted pumpkin, a little pot of piccalilli relish and rosemary salt damper scones and butter.

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There were also a selection of pickles and pickled onions that really nailed the aesthetic of a classic Ploughman’s Board.

The Bushman’s Plate is similar, yet probably more suited to children or someone wanting a savoury alternative to High Tea as it was almost more of a grazing board than a full lunch. There was deliciously moist sliced ham, salmon rillettes, a generous amount of cloth bound cheddar (possibly one of my favourite elements), malt vinegar pickles, a piccalilli relish pot and a serve of the damper.

Our team shared three plates between four of us and it was the perfect summer lunch with just the right amount of food. The success of these dishes lies in the similarity between them and the High Tea – in the ability to pick and choose a little or a lot of each element on the plate.

It’s the perfect way to satiate yourself before your High Tea, but light enough not to spoil your appetite. If I were to do the High Tea again, I would order a Farmhouse Board for each person and split a Bushman’s Plate between two, just for good measure.

The High Tea itself was, of course, gorgeously presented on two-tiered Wedgwood cake stands with accompanying little plates and our choosing of a selection of T2 teas.

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Having been ‘sugar free’ for the last six weeks, I told myself that if I was ever going to have a cheat day, a High Tea served on Wedgwood china is a pretty darn good excuse so I made sure to try each element. Delicately laid out were mini brioche buns with smoked salmon and dill crème, ribbon sandwiches of cucumber and lime sour cream and citrus poached chicken and herb mayonnaise and mini asparagus and melted gruyere tarts.

Scones with the most delicious vanilla bean whipped cream and berry preserve, Dame Nellie Melba opera cakes, lemon and yogurt curd tart with toasted meringue, Peach Melba cake with white peach butter cream and jam drop shortbreads with lavender sugar decorated the upper layers of the cake stand.

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I loved that each person was given one of each piece and the size was perfect for a tasting experience. My favourites were hands down the chicken sandwiches and scones – they were absolutely sublime.

One of the benefits of the location is that the Wedgwood Tea Room is open for High Tea all day, meaning that visitors to Canberra can pop in for a spot of morning tea before sightseeing, you can round up your friends for a catch up lunch and High Tea around midday or have High Tea at the traditional time of mid-afternoon after viewing the exhibitions.

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The view from the Wedgwood Tea Room

The combination of the location, the view, the design elements and the food itself created a very unique High Tea experience and the perfect way the celebrate the end of the year, Christmas or just summer with loved ones – you can even gift the High Tea experience for someone by purchasing a gift voucher from the NGA.

the essentials

What: Wedgwood Tea Room Lunch and High Tea
Where: The National Gallery of Australia, King Edward Terrace, Parkes
When: The Tea Room is open for High Tea and lunch from 10.30am to 4.30pm daily.
Cost: High Tea is $43 per person, the Farmhouse Board for one $25 per person and the Bushman’s Plate $20 per person.
Contact: Bookings can be made on 6240 6711, by emailing, or on Ticketek as part of a Tom Roberts exhibition package.

Feature image of Wedgwood Tea Room 2015, image courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia.

This is a sponsored article but all opinions remain the author’s own. If you would like more information on sponsored articles, click here

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Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Editorial Coordinator involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise you’ll find her at the movies, ordering a cheese board or ordering a cheese board at the movies. More about the Author

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