Dessert Correspondents

A Melbourne, London & Hong Kong dessert blog

Sebel Heritage – Yarra Valley Chocolate High Tea

Get-away to a peaceful hamlet in the Yarra Valley Hillsides for a generous buffet high tea.

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Our experience

There is something endearingly beautiful about the wine regions of country Victoria. In any season, an emerald landscape of row upon row of grape vines, tinged by the warm gold of haystacks machined turned into round bales. The sky an unbelievable cerulean blue. A scattering of woolly lambs and ruminating cows grazing on lush fields. Meandering roads caressing undulating hills, and unsealed paths threading towards get-aways promising cosy fireplaces and tables laden with the finest produce and wines delivered straight from nearby farms and cellar doors.

Yarra Valley – photo taken during a summer sojourn – vista from Oakridge Wines

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Yarra Valley – photo taken during a summer sojourn – vista from Dominique Portet

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Yarra Valley – photo taken during a summer sojourn – vista from Domaine Chandon

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The Sebel Heritage is perched atop the verdant hills of the Yarra Valley in south-east Victoria. A hamlet of luxuriously appointed apartments and guest rooms overlook a vast golf course, its golf and spa facilities offering an indulgent retreat for ladies and gentlemen alike. For MoMo & Coco however, it was the promise of a weekly Sunday chocolate-themed high tea amidst a country resort that seduced us away from urban life and the dreary winter that unfurled and rolled out clouds like a grey dough, distantly rumbling with thunder and rain.

Sebel Heritage – perched atop an emerald hill of the Yarra Valley

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Sebel Heritage – the surroundings

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Departing from the increasingly annoyingly repetitive Melbourne CBD-norm of dark-wooded bistro dining, the Sebel Heritage’s Bella Restaurant was all starched, white-linen formality and polished, prompt, faultless service. The dining audience was demurely genteel — a few tables of the traditional afternoon tea demographic of grey hairs and twin-set pearls, a corner romance, small quiet groups of young ladies and a subdued hen’s party discreetly secluded in another room. Dramatic florist works featuring Australian native flowers of luridly orange Kangaroo Paw and garnet globes of waratah cohabited with posies of English David Austin roses and magenta Singaporean orchids. Stem ware were filled with sparkling wine. Plates and tea ware were plain unadorned white. Tea was forgettable, self-serve with tea bags – a possible faux pas in the institution of afternoon tea.

Sebel Heritage – the setting

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Sebel Heritage – the setting

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A two-tiered service arrived promptly. There were four types of double ribbon sandwiches (smoked salmon, ham and cheese, scrambled egg and cucumber, and poached chicken), served variously on soft white, multigrain and wholemeal bread.

Sebel Heritage High Tea – two tiers of savouries

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Savouries also included two warm pastries — a dry-ish miniature sheperds pie with a baked twirl of mash, and a filo pastry encasing spinach and ricotta.

Sebel Heritage High Tea – mini sheperds’ pie

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Sebel Heritage High Tea – spinach and ricotta filo

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Scones were of the raisin type, nuggets rather than pillows, accompanied with generous dishes of sweet strawberry preserve and luscious cream.

Sebel Heritage High Tea – scones, scones, scones

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And so, we reach the dessert buffet. Watched over by a huge rooster, it was no chicken feed. On an adjacent table, there was also a chocolate fondue fountain, with chunks of amber honeycomb, pineapple, strawberries, meringue droplets and marshmellows. With any buffet-style afternoon tea, systematic strategy is required. MoMo & Coco visited four times, sampling 3-4 items each time, and in this way, we only missed out on the chocolate cupcake, carrot cake, the chocolate fountain components and the cheese and crackers.

Sebel Heritage High Tea – the dessert buffet

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This was MoMo & Coco’s first plate of irresistibles from the high tea buffet, consisting of fairly traditional, classical dessert fare that is easy on most palates. The first irresistible from this first plate was a square of orange poppyseed cake, with a moist texture and a tiny dollop of cream cheese frosting. The second and third irresistibles were two lemon numbers: a lemon meringue pie possessed a soft meringue swirled on top of a zesty lemon curd base; and a fine and dandy lemon tart with a musketeer troop of glazed orange, kiwi and strawberry conferring a dash of colour.

Sebel Heritage High Tea – first plate of irresistibles

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Sebel Heritage High Tea – the lemon meringue tart

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Sebel Heritage High Tea – the fruit tart

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The second plate of irresistibles selected by MoMo & Coco moved to less fruity, slightly heavier but no less irresistible dessert fare. An eclair was all golden choux pastry encircling a tubular interior of custard. A good French pastry should make a mess when one cuts into it, and it sure did here. A large cube of so very Australian lamington was a disappointing dry vanilla sponge, dipped in chocolate and flecked with coconut. The third irresistible on this second plate was a large upturned cyclinder of robustly-flavoured coffee panna cotta, with a creamy, light texture and flakes of chocolate scattered on top.

Sebel Heritage High Tea – second plate of irresistibles

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Sebel Heritage High Tea – the chocolate eclair

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Sebel Heritage High Tea – inside the chocolate eclair

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Sebel Heritage High Tea – the chocolate lamington

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Sebel Heritage High Tea – the chocolate coffee pannacotta

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For a light intermission, MoMo & Coco’s third plate of irresistibles comprised a quartet of four round morsels. First up from this platter, a trio of pastel macarons possessed the sought-after melt-in-the-mouth texture, but the consequence of tiny dots of ganache filling unfortunately resulted in negligible flavour. The next irresistible was the raspberry financier with juicy morsels of raspberry hidden within golden softness.

Sebel Heritage High Tea – third plate of irresistibles

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Sebel Heritage High Tea – the macarons

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Sebel Heritage High Tea – the macarons

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Sebel Heritage High Tea – the raspberry friand

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MoMo & Coco’s finale plate of irresistibles was an extravaganza of chocolate, sugar, butter, and diabetes. :) Dusted with icing sugar, a moreish square slice of chocolate brownie was simply baked perfection. With a light chocolate biscuit base, a tart shaped as a chocolate cube cupped silky chocolate. A tower of a mud cake was pure decadence — rich, moist, chocolate, iced over with a luxurious ganache and decorated with twirls of dark and white chocolate.

Sebel Heritage High Tea – fourth plate of irresistibles

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Sebel Heritage High Tea – the chocolate brownie

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Sebel Heritage High Tea – close-up of the chocolate brownie

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Sebel Heritage High Tea – the chocolate tart

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Sebel Heritage High Tea – the chocolate mud cake

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To cleanse the palate, a large bowl proferring a veritable rainbow of fruit was available.

Sebel Heritage High Tea – detoxification with fruit

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OUR VERDICT

Overall, although the Sebel Heritage makes no culinary breakthroughs with its high tea, it presents a version that has wide palate appeal. It furthermore comes at a quality, a generosity and a price that puts the sudden influx of other “high tea” offerings in the last 6 months or so, to absolute shame (MoMo & Coco have regrettably partaken in several dismal examples, and according to our blog philosophy, refuse to feature them in this journal-blog). Because of its unfussy, generous approach, and at an accessible price bracket, the Sebel Heritage High Tea offers grandmothers, mothers, daughters, grandaughters and friends (and of course, their male counterparts) an escapade from the grind of urbanism and of life, to retreat, relax and rejuvenate, to breathe in that distintive crisp country air, and to indulge oneself in a languid afternoon tea featuring attentive service, fine surroundings, and the glory of sugar, butter, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate…

  • Dessert adventure checklist
  1. Dessert destination: The Sebel Heritage, Heritage Avenue, Chirnside Park, Yarra Valley, Vic 3116.
  2. Budget: $$$ ($38.50 pp)
  3. Sweet irresistibles: High Tea
  4. Must-eat: Weekend only.
  5. The short and sweet story: Get-away to a peaceful hamlet in the Yarra Valley Hillsides for a generous buffet high tea.
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2 comments on “Sebel Heritage – Yarra Valley Chocolate High Tea

  1. Lisa
    July 1, 2013

    Very interested in your high tea for Sunday 21st July. Is there a chance to make a booking for 6 people. Do I have to pay for it once booked or can we pay on arrival? Also to confirm price per person? Is there a specific time to arrive? If someone could call me on 0403357123. Thank you in advance.

    • MoMo & Coco
      July 7, 2013

      Hi Lisa – thank you for your comment above. Please note that we are independent dessert reviewers, so are in no way affiliated with the venues that we review. If you would like to make a booking, please contact the venue directly. Thank you for your readership of our dessert-only blog, MoMo & Coco.

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