High Tea with a dramatic twist
Mary Eats Cake is a fairly new high tea venue on Sydney Road Brunswick.
The space is elegant and girly with vintage teacups, fresh flowers, light streaming in from a large front window and dainty cakes.
But in keeping with Brunswick’s working class heritage, there are elements of industrial chic: exposed brick, flaky paintwork and highly-polished concrete floors.
A Niagara Falls sized chandelier cascades from the ceiling, but is banded by a globe of industrial steel. A reminder that this is chandelier class but, without any pretentiousness.
Like the décor the menu is dramatic, eye-catching and cutting edge.
The high tea is theatrical. Flutes of French champagne are poured by equally bubbly wait staff.
The staged set includes one-off vintage cups and saucers, silver pots with luscious jams and white cream speckled with red rose petals. Candles glow beneath glass teapots.
Then from stage right enters the royal procession of tiered cake stands. Following in their train are separate plates for the vegetarians and vegans. No one misses out at Mary’s.
The base is far from basic. Fresh bread plumped into a pastie-like shapes and stuffed with caramelised red onion, baked squash, apple, and blue cheese. Lidless, matchbox-shaped pastry containers filled with cubes of caramelised beetroot, roasted walnut and goat’s cheese and next to these doll-sized pork sliders with Asian slaw and sweet chilli mayo.
Traditional sandwiches feature modern flare. Small squares and so beautifully decorated with stripes of embedded cucumber they resemble origami boxes
The savoury medley is paired with a bold brew of Brunswick Breakfast tea.
Moving to sweeter climes we change tea to another matched tea of lemon myrtle and ginger. This complements the fluffy scones that we douse in raspberry jam and cream.
The top tier is like Coronation Street. Little boxes of spicy carrot cake tiled with cream cheese icing, dark cherry and gingerbread tarts speckled with gold and orange nougat mousse in chocolate tea cups. Some look like royal crowns with ruby cherries embedded into velvety fillings and sprinkles of edible gold leaf.
You can tell that Jessica Hillbreck is a French trained pastry as such a feast could even grace a table at Versailles. The name, Mary Eats Cake even echoes Marie Antoinette’s famous dictum, “Well, let them eat cake!”
But what of Brunswick Mary? For co-owner Sarah de Witt, who is a tea sommelier and the face behind Impala & Peacock artisan teas, she ‘is the part in all of us that loves to dress up, drink from vintage, raise our pinkie and feel a bit posh, laugh with friends over champagne, and eye off the last treat on the High Tea stand.’
The experience ends with a row of macaron medallions and a fine cheese and fruit board.
But just as one reaches the grand finale comes an unexpected encore. With great aplomb the waiter placed a large sewn bulb of blossoming tea into a teapot of boiling water.
As the tea steeps the magic bulb unfurls, and a crown of Asian flowers surface seemingly pushed up by waving fronds that look like kraken arms.
The resultant fragrant tea not only cleans the palate but, leaves lasting memories.
So, next time you want a theatrical rather than a plebeian high tea head to Brunswick. Because there is definitely something about Mary and, she lets you eat oodles of cake.
By Nadine Cresswell-Myatt
Mary Eats Cake
t: (03) 8394 5661
a: 558 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Nadine Cresswell-Myatt experienced the high tea, seasonal menu at Mary Eats Cake, which costs $49 per person (+$6 for Vegan / Gluten Free). Offers vegetarian and pregnancy selections. Additions can include drink packages and tea blending, calligraphy or flower crown workshops. Excellent for hen’s parties, bridal and baby showers. Off-site catering available. High tea sessions run at 1pm most weekdays and at 11am and 2.30pm on weekends