Celebrated pastry chef and television personality Adriano Zumbo is bringing his signature high tea back to Sydney.
The "dessert king", who rose to prominence during the 2009 season of MasterChef for his croquembouche, has teamed up with boutique hotel chain QT to create QTea, an extravagant high tea with a touch of theatrics.
"I wanted to work with QT's signature quirk and create a high tea that you'd never forget," Zumbo says.
"Forget sensible finger sandwiches or stuffy service."
Sydneysiders will be served their "just desserts" in the luxe lobby of QT Sydney each weekend, as drinks are poured from a glittering champagne trolley and a DJ works the decks.
While the menu will feature a selection of savoury dishes, such as champagne lobster rolls, caesar sliders and goats cheese tarts, the focus remains firmly on dessert.
"High tea is mainly dessert, so it works really well with what I do," Zumbo says.
"I've made a beautiful little love heart cake. It's light and airy with chocolate mousse and a nice pistachio praline and raspberry centre. It's got a satisfying crunch on the bottom, it's absolutely delicious."
Diners can also look forward to white glazed yuzu vanilla cake, Zumbo's classic passionfruit tart and, of course, a selection of Zumbarons (macarons).
This is Zumbo's second attempt at serving high tea, after his upmarket South Yarra offering, Fancy Nance, closed in June 2017 after two years of trade.
Fancy Nance offered a 12-course degustation menu that featured everything from a "chouxmaca" (a choux bun with a macaron) to a passionfruit curd and lemongrass panna cotta.
The dessert empire folded shortly after, going into administration in 2018, and Zumbo says he's learned from the experience.
"I've had my own high tea in the past, and I know the costs involved," he says.
"Things are different this time. In reality, high tea is a business so it has to be doable and achievable.
"They're not going to spend all day putting dibs and dabs all over a dessert. It still has to look good, but what really matters is the taste and the texture."
Zumbo plans to revisit the menu seasonally to keep his dishes fresh and exciting. In the meantime, he'll continue working at Zumbo Test, his small dessert store based in Noosaville, Queensland.
Five of Sydney's best high teas
Experience the macaron master's creations each weekend, with custom-designed dessert stands and a selection of 60 champagnes from QT's award-winning wine list.
Taking bookings from Saturday, May 29. From $95 per person, Sat-Sun from 11am
49 Market Street, Sydney, 02 8262 0000, qthotels.com
Afternoon tea at The Langham
For a traditional high tea experience, The Langham is the place. The hotel prides itself on providing an authentic, British experience with warm scones, delicate finger sandwiches and sweets. The price includes a glass of sparkling wine for adults, and juice or soft drink for children.
From $98 per person, or $49 per child under 12. Daily 11am-5pm
89-113 Kent Street, Millers Point, 02 9256 2222, kitchensonkent.com
Plant-based high tea at Alibi
The city's only plant-based high tea boasts a beautiful selection of sweet and savoury dishes for vegans and non-vegans alike. Head chef Matthew Kenney used his clean food philosophy to devise a menu which includes everything from salt-baked potato with crispy salt bush and sunrise lime, to wattleseed and almond tiramisu. The extensive tea selection is provided by boutique Australian tea label Rabbit Hole, and a two-hour bottomless rosé or champagne package is also available.
From $55 per person. Sat-Sun, noon-4pm.
Ovolo, 6 Cowper Wharf Roadway, Woolloomooloo, 02 9331 9000, alibibar.com.au
High Cheese at QVB
Can't go past a tower of cheese? The Reign at QVB is switching up its high tea offering with a lactose-heavy "high cheese". The beautiful, light-filled space with its pastel-pink chairs and extensive sparkling wine list is the perfect place to while away an afternoon, with oversized windows that allow for excellent people watching. For $29 per person you'll be treated to a selection of three gourmet cheeses, alongside accompaniments such as lavosh, oat crackers, quince paste and dried fruits.
From $29 per person. Mon-Wed noon-6pm; Thu-Fri noon-10pm; Sat-Sun 10am-4pm.
Level 1, Queen Victoria Building, 455 George Street Sydney, 02 8023 7608, reignatqvb.com.au
Signature high tea at The Gallery
If decadence is what you're after, the signature high tea at The Gallery on the Park has you covered. Handmade sweet and savoury delicacies are served on bespoke, three-tiered silver cake-stands alongside your choice of tea, coffee or Lindt hot chocolate. For $139 per person you can upgrade to the signature Waterford crystal high tea, which includes gift-boxed champagne flutes to take home. If just one glass isn't enough, another $25 per person will get you an hour and a half of free-flowing sparkling.
If you're booking during Vivid, check out their Vivid lights high tea from $89 per person, from noon each day. The limited edition menu will include M&M chocolate scones; vanilla biscuit tarts filled with mandarin curd and Italian meringue; and beetroot and feta arancini.
From $79 per person. Mon-Sun 10am-4pm
The Gallery, Level G, 161 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, 02 9286 6000, galleryonthepark.com.au/high-tea