A little Scoopon is a dangerous thing, or at least it is where I’m involved. Practically all my eating-out reviews (especially the ones that aren’t within walking distance) are of things I have been Scooponed into, and that is no less the case today.
I’ve been wanting to thank my friend Geoff for his help and accompaniment last year with my singing exam and recital, and when I saw a Scoopon for High Tea in the Yarra Valley, this seemed like just the thing. So on Sunday, Andrew and I, along with Geoff and his partner, drove up into the hills (why do they call it a valley when it’s in the hills?) to Warburton and Wonga Park for High Tea at the Jump Inn Café.
The first thing you should know is that this was *worlds* better than the Grand Hyatt. Worlds. The service was pleasant. Their sandwiches did not curl. Their scones were proper scones. And there was so much cake and pastry that we couldn’t finish our little three-tiered stands, though we really, really wanted to.
And, actually, this feels like damning it with faint praise. Basically, it was a really nice high tea, and one that fit the setting very nicely.
At first glance, the Jump Inn Café looked a little disappointing – just a nice little tea shop in the hills, but nothing spectacular, and the kind where the scones might be fabulous or might be sad, and you really won’t know until you try them. On the inside, though, someone had made an effort. The tables were covered with lacy tablecloths, and there was a posy at the centre of each table. We were given champagne to start with, and left to contemplate the view while we waited for our food. And the view was worth contemplating – the architect had wisely made the side wall basically all window, so we could look out over trees and hills and greenery. It was very peaceful.
We were a bit early for our sitting time, so the food took a little longer to arrive than might have been ideal (perhaps half an hour?), but honestly, it was a pretty, air-conditioned room with pretty views and good champagne, and that’s not a bad place to be on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
And then they brought us food. And lots of it. And, as usual, I took no photos of it, so you will simply have to use your imagination.
Each pair of people had one three tiered tray, absolutely packed with food. The bottom tier had I think six (maybe eight?) scones, jam, cream, and two raspberry cupcakes (or perhaps muffins?). The scones were light and tasty and soft and still warm – a little cakey, but definitely real scones, and very good. The raspberry cupcakes were good but really hardly necessary!
The second tier was sandwiches and savouries – four little white cucumber sandwiches, four curried egg sandwiches, two miniature quiches and two little frittatas. I’ve never seen savouries other than sandwiches on a high tea platter before, and they make a nice addition, I think. The frittata was particularly good.
The top tier was cakes and pastries – two mini cannoli, two little flourless orange cupcakes and two little flourless blueberry and almond cakes, two chocolate brownies, a puff pastry, jam and cream sandwich, and two beautiful chou pastry swans filled with cream and strawberries. I think that was all – there was certainly a lot, and I may have missed some. It was all good, and the swans particularly so, but the chocolate brownie things were absolutely to die for – they had a lovely chewy crust and gooey texture and were dense and rich and absolutely decadent.
Oh, and there was tea. I don’t drink tea, but I gather it was your standard tea bag variety – neither good nor bad, just an accompaniment for all the cakes and goodies.
Altogether, it was lovely. It was a little on the rich side for me, with all that cream, but then, high teas generally are a bit like that. I was interested to note that it had a very different character from high teas I’ve been to in the city (at the Langham, the Plane Tree Café, even the Hyatt) – city high teas tend to have very posh miniature cakes – very rich with lots of layers to them, and incredibly pretty. This was more rustic in feel and look – everything was pretty, but in a more Country Women’s Association sort of way, with eggs and cream featuring strongly in the ingredients. Simpler food, I think is how I’d describe it – all done very well and very generously, but without showing off. A bit old fashioned. It suited the venue and the environment, though – I don’t think I’d want excessive sophistication from a little tea shop overlooking the bush.
We all ate like omnivores, but I noticed when booking that they had gluten-free and vegetarian options available. Thinking about it, there was only one thing there that wasn’t vegetarian, but I think they’d have more difficulty feeding vegans, given their apparent love of eggs and dairy. Their general menu is not especially full of vegetarian options, so I’d say this wasn’t their specialty.
In terms of gluten-free food, I have no idea what their standard options are, but the frittata and I think three of the cakes were all made without gluten, which is sensible if you’re planning on catering for different dietary needs – if you make a few things that everyone can eat, then you only have to come up with a few extras for your gluten-free guests. I note that their website specifically says that they cater for gluten-free ‘extensively’, so I’d surmise that their gluten-free high tea is a good one.
In all, it was a nice afternoon out. I think if I were to go there again, I’d combine it with a few other things to do in the Yarra Valley – I’m not sure it justifies a 45 minute drive each way to do nothing else but high tea, but it’s definitely a place I’d recommend if you were in the area and looking for a nice place to stop and indulge.
Jump Inn Café
70 Jumping Creek Rd
WONGA PARK 3115 VIC
Telephone: 03 9722 1201