Peninsula Tea Gardens

Addendum: Please note that management of Peninsula Tea Gardens changed around May 2010 which may account for the increase in dissatisfied patrons since then. I suggest keeping an eye on urbanspoon.com for updates.

I don’t like being overly critical of restaurants and cafes based on just one visit but when my expectations have been raised beforehand by glowing reviews and a higher than average price, I think it’s only natural to feel disappointed when an establishment falls short of those expectations. This was sadly the case with the Peninsula Tea Gardens in Maylands, which I finally got around to visiting with the Bestie after a number of false starts.

Before I go on, I must state that our afternoon at the Peninsula Tea Gardens was not horrible. Taking tea and scones in the lush green lawned area of historic Tranby House while overlooking the Swan River is probably as close to an English idyll as you’re going to get in metropolitan Perth. This gorgeous location alone is always going to set the Peninsula Tea Gardens apart from the mediocre but dare I say, therein lies the problem.

Peninsula Tea Gardens

As I said, my expectations were quite high. The lovely people at High Tea Society gave the Peninsula Tea Gardens a promising review with even more promising photos of their high tea offerings. I should add here however that the review was written almost a year ago (closer to when the Gardens opened) and unfortunately that is more than sufficient time for the ball to get dropped in the game of maintaining quality.

Other than the impressive photos included in the above review, I was also led to believe we were in for a high end experience just purely based on how hard it was to get in. The Bestie was sternly informed that she should try and book at least a week in advance (which is probably fair to say of weekend bookings) and when I finally picked up the phone to book us in for the mid-week Parisian Afternoon Tea ($33 as opposed to $38 on weekends) and got advised that I would need to give 48 hours notice to alter or cancel my booking (or forfeit my deposit of $10 pp), I couldn’t help but think I was in for a seriously bespoke afternoon of gorgeous treats and attentive service. Silly me.

On advising the wait staff of our arrival, they casually pointed out our table to us. Just as well there was a ‘Reserved’ sign on it or we probably would have sat at another empty table; it was not a busy day by any stretch of the imagination. I would have though it a good idea to already have the table set for two but instead a waitress brought out the fine bone china tea service after we sat down and then took our order.

Our three-tiered stand of high tea goodness soon arrived along with our pots of tea. On first glance, we said nothing. On the second, we realised that we weren’t being wowed. Later, on comparing my photos with those of High Tea Society’s I could see why. What we were served was rather lacklustre and bordered on pedestrian. I now feel remiss for suggesting that the high tea items at the Duxton were safe!

Peninsula Tea Gardens

Would Matt Preston approve? Kitchen handy towels take place of linen...

The sandwiches sounded great on the menu but what I saw and tasted was no different to your average cafeteria sangers, minus the crusts. I am pretty sure the ham and beef were regular pressed meat you can buy by the gram at Coles. I didn’t really pick up on any of the horseradish or Dijon mustard which might have otherwise elevated the pressed meat into something more palatable. Rather bland bites overall and no mini quiche or the like to seek savoury solace in.

We moved on to the second tier which carried a couple of scones. Yes, one each. Must be a mid-week thing… The accompanying cream (regular whipped) and jam (fairly sure it was Cottee’s) also irked me, particularly as our last high tea at the Duxton indulged us with gorgeous King Island double cream and jam packed with fruit and flavour to lavish on our scones. At least the scones themselves were much nicer to eat than the sandwiches.

The top tier (or the princess tier, as I call it) should have been amazing but it was not. A couple of standard chocolate eclairs, standard petit fours and cupcakes which were decorated to appeal more to the Big Red Car set than us 30-somethings. I suspect a lot of these things were brought in from cake suppliers and massive apologies if that is not the case, but nothing felt particularly special.

 

Peninsula Tea Gardens

Highlight of the high tea?

I can’t say that I found comfort in my pot of tea either. I guess once I started picking out the flaws and offset them against my earlier expectations, I was left feeling a little flat and even Sri Lanka’s finest wasn’t going to help. The staff seemed to exist only to serve (surely we can be more personable on a Tuesday) and at times seemed too keen to clear things away or do things to facilitate their closing up process. An umbrella next to us got taken down which we wondered if we were meant to take as a sign to move on.

The Bestie was ironically most impressed by the cupcakes but I chose to take mine home to Master Seven. I can’t say that there was anything that made me feel like I had a high tea experience. Elsewhere, I always felt a bit posh afterwards. Still, I’m by no means going to discourage people from taking high tea at the Peninsula Tea Gardens. If anything, the location makes things worthwhile and I’d indeed like to know if perhaps we’d gone on a ‘bad’ day or if they simply save their A-Game for the weekends (if I paid the full price for what we got on a Tuesday, I’d be less than gracious here!). I’m also curious as to whether the business changed hands since the beginning.

I think the most apt metaphor for the Peninsula Tea Gardens is in their fine bone china tea set and silverware: in need of attention! (the silverware needed polishing and someone really took to the cups’ gilded rims with a scourer!).

Location: Superb!
Food: Uninspiring
Service: OK
Value: At $33 per head, I would expect more :( Glad to have gone mid-week!

Peninsula Tea Gardens Tranby (Peninsula Farm), Johnson Road, Maylands, (Perth) WA 6051 – 089 272 8894 www.peninsulateagardens.com

Peninsula Tea Gardens

10 Comments

  1. Conor @ HoldtheBeef October 15, 2010 Reply

    Oh dear, this is quite ‘meh’ isn’t it, especially with the booking handling process! If I were serving a fancypants afternoon tea to friends at home I would at least use a clean tea towel instead of paper towel, jeez.

    I think perhaps that my next (and long overdue) high tea experience will be at Rochelle Adonis or The George.

    • Moni October 16, 2010 Reply

      It was crushingly disappointing… I’m all about value for money (some may say a tighta$%e) and in that sense the Duxton’s high tea was much, much better. The Bestie only has a couple of precious weeks before her new baby arrives so we booked into Rochelle Adonis immediately for next week :D It looks gorgeous!

  2. jenjen October 17, 2010 Reply

    Was the best High Tea experience in Perth when the reviews were done a year ago. New management since May this year answers your query.

    • Moni October 17, 2010 Reply

      Thanks for that. I suspected that may have been the case :( I hope it can reach the same lofty heights again as the venue deserves more.

  3. Tenina October 20, 2010 Reply

    Hi Moni,
    I tried to get in here a few weeks back and couldn’t! Went instead to Rochelle Adonis in Brisbane St Northbridge…what a pleasure. You must go! Hard to get into with good reason! Thanks for this update…

    • Moni October 21, 2010 Reply

      Hey Tenina. I’d be interested in what you think if you go one day given you’ve been to Rochelle Adonis too (OMG – what a treat!). I don’t know if we went to Peninsula on a bad day, if their mid-week high tea is meant to be less flash or if I just expect too much!

  4. Xander December 30, 2010 Reply

    Having been for ‘real’ High Tea numerous times in the ‘good old days’ of Penninsula Tea Gardens when it was crisp white linens and helpful staff, I was thoroughly disappointed by the amateurish attempt at High Tea that I endured yesterday at the Penninsula Tea Gardens with the new owners. I agree with everything you said, we also went mid-week when it was quiet. The warning signs were there when booking, I told them it was for a 60th birthday party and could I request a table with a view of the river. I was told they don’t reserve seating and to choose our spot when we arrive. This proved difficult when we chose a table inside and we were then told we would have to be out by 11.30am because there was a reservation for that table!!!! Further dismal points included: 1) Airconditioner turned off half way through on a 40 degree day 2) Paper napkins and no tablecloth 3) Paper ‘handy towel’ for teapot handles instead of linen 4) No ice bucket offered for champagne and no offer to open it for us 5) Orange juice took over half an hour and prompting to arrive 6) Plastic ‘sundae’ cups for serving orange juice 7) Room temperature tap water served without ice 8) Reached top tier of cakes and had to go to the kitchen to ask if it was possible to have our tea with our high tea! 9) Three tea strainers for five people stacked on top of each other, not pointed out to us and only noticed once everyone had poured tea.
    But there were some ‘positives’ they were VERY proficient at clearing away the table and asking if we would like a ‘doggy bag’ box for our kiddy cupcakes two minutes after finally receiving our teapots. Apparently it was time for us to go…

    • Monica December 30, 2010 Reply

      Phew… Sorry to hear that you had a bad experience there also but happy to know that I wasn’t going mad, or had developed an unrealistically high standard for high tea :| I was fairly polite in my review (given everyone else before me had nothing but high praises), but my friend and I were really disappointed. Clearly the change of hands is at fault. Such a shame as I was looking forward to something very special.
      And yes, they are rather keen to get people to leave :| In our case they started taking down the umbrellas. We could only laugh at the kitchen towels on the silverware pots!

  5. Bronwyn March 3, 2012 Reply

    It seems someone keep making rumors…
    Someone just post the bad reviews to everyone…
    how much you hate them ah?
    Fortunately just had a lovely afternoon with my best friends there
    so many mixture reviews…

    • Monica March 4, 2012 Reply

      I think ‘hate’ is a strong word and certainly no one does a negative review for the sake of making someone feel bad. No one wants a business to fail but when there are some glaring issues that should be addressed by management but as yet haven’t been (there are still many negative comments on Urbanspoon well after I wrote this review), what can you do? I would be more than happy to visit Peninsula again if I’m given some indication that things have improved a lot, but until then there are simply too many great places to eat in Perth that I’d rather save my money for.

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