Mossgreen Tearooms

926-930 High Street, Armadale, Victoria

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Your pinkie may point skyward as you take high tea among the artworks.
Your pinkie may point skyward as you take high tea among the artworks. Photo: Simon Schluter

Dani Valent

My little finger told me things were different at Mossgreen Tearooms. As I picked up my Wedgewood teacup the digit extended of its own accord, like a fern unfurling, all ladylike and posh. I experimented with this new configuration. It's actually very comfortable to eat a cucumber sandwich with finger No. 5 testing the breeze and so delightfully apropos to let the little finger point skyward while jamming a scone between lips.

The difference is that the tearooms are romantic and elegant; urban grit begone. They adjoin a handsome gallery where the exhibition when we visit is ''important ceramics''. Artworks decorate the walls of the spacious, terraced tearooms, most notably Kate Bergin's wry, absurd still-life paintings, which also feature on the menus.

Armadale's lovely lunching ladies are lively tableaux too (and just wait for the champagne laughter when the liquor licence kicks in).

Sweet treats at Mossgreen Tearooms.
Sweet treats at Mossgreen Tearooms. Photo: Simon Schluter

Caterer Peter Rowland runs the show, which makes the tearooms feel at once capable and strait-jacketed. I had a vision of crustless chicken sandwiches reaching to the moon and back while eating them here. Nevertheless, the dishes are created on site, apart from the pies and petit fours, which are brought in from Rowland HQ and an off-site patisserie.

Breakfast channels European luxury hotels with continental platters and such dishes as coddled eggs with soft herbs and asparagus. Lunch evokes a London club: there's nicoise salad with seared tuna, classic club sandwich with proper sliced bread, and pot pie with delicious braised lamb and potato crisps. High tea is served any time. Dainty nibbles include sandwiches of smoked salmon and butter, Waldorf-style chicken sandwiches with celery and apple, posh party pies, scones, and bite-sized sweets such as lemon meringue pie, macarons and teeny salted caramel eclairs. The food is fine but the graceful experience is the real triumph.

The floral teasets are gorgeous but loose leaves would be preferable to T2 bags and, in a related complaint, $48 for high tea is expensive and out of whack with the rest of the menu, which is reasonably priced. Still, it's remarkably pleasant to hang out in the 2014 version of 1920, which balances antique virtues with modern concerns about ethical meat, espresso coffee and, of course, what exactly one does with one's little finger.

Rating: Three and a half stars (out of five)

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926-930 High Street, Armadale, Victoria

  • Cuisine - British
  • Prices - Breakfast: $11-$21; Lunch: $13-$22; High tea: $48 a person
  • Features - Accepts bookings
  • Cards accepted - Mastercard, Visa, EFTPOS
  • Opening Hours - Daily 8am-5pm
  • Author - Dani Valent
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4 comments so far

  • I have not been there; however my suspicion is that the review is way too lenient on the use of teabags in preference to loose leaf tea. My belief in the artistry and care in making loose leaf tea may be somewhat of an illusion, however anybody can pour hot water over a teabag. There is no art at all to it. There remains some in the use of loose leaf tea. I do feel quite cheated when I am promised quality tea only to be served teabag tea.

    Perhpas even more importantly, the flavour of even an average loose leaf tea does, I find, surpass that of the mosr expensive teabag. I wish that restaurateurs and cafe owners (especially places which make tea a significant part of their attraction) took the art of teamaking more seriously.

    Commenter
    Purring cat
    Location
    Date and time
    February 10, 2014, 11:16AM
    • I agree. I rarely drink tea bag tea at home, and when I do it's only because something hot and wet is better than nothing at all. I certainly don't expect to be served it if I'm paying good money for a cup of tea. Who would accept being served instant coffee?

      Great blog name. :)

      Commenter
      bornagirl
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 10, 2014, 1:41PM
    • Never mind that there are people in the world without fresh,clean drinking water. As long as you have your loose leaf tea.

      Commenter
      Agnes
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 10, 2014, 10:05PM
    • I'm surprised at some of these comments as I am quite sure that the tea served here IS in fact loose leaf tea... placed by hand into silk tea pouches to solve the issue of clogging up the pot's spout (overheard one of the waiters telling another customer). And $48? I would have thought this was on the cheaper end of the High Tea packages sold in Melbourne.

      Overall, I was very happy with my experience here.

      Commenter
      Pauline
      Location
      Date and time
      February 14, 2014, 2:21PM

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