On a particularly hot day in Sydney, I walked up to Victoria St Darlinghurst and met Kristin Rohan outside The Victoria Room, a place to shelter from the harsh glarey sun.
Inside, as soon as Kristin set her eyes on it she said, “I could live here. This is my new favourite place. This is what I want my house to be.”
The Victoria Room is a dreamy place. It’s quite dark and takes a while for the eyes to adjust. Fans were spinning around. I like the shaky things which make a lovely sound. “Bamboo,” Kristin said.
In our booth were Kristin Rohan: @KristinRohan @TheSassySEO, Catriona Pollard: @CatrionaPollard, Ben Xu: @GadgetFarmer and Frances Jones: @FrancieJones.
“I got a car park right out the front. Rock star parking. 4 hour metered,” Catriona said.
Ben brought his Lumix compact camera, “It will deceive you but it will not disappoint you.” I dream of having a gadget guy beside me all the time, working out all the settings, numbers and buttons for me.
Waiter Ramon Kurban was so lovely and friendly, there was nothing too difficult. He’s Turkish. Thank you Ramon, you are living in our dream.
Kristin: “When I’m feeling low I’m going to come here so everybody can be nice to me.”
We started with tea.
We sampled most of the teas.
CP: Russian Caravan
FJ: Rose garden-rosebuds, chamomile, lavender, hibiscus, calendula, cornflower
High Tea Menu
English Breakfast supreme
Earl Grey Premium
Prince of Wales
Lemongrass & ginger
Chamomile & Spearmint
CP ”Are you having champagne?”
KR “Of course, I’m taking the bus.”
2 Rose champagnes
Afternoon Tea Sandwiches:
Cucumber, Creme Fraiche & Dill
Watercress, celery, walnuts & goats curd
Avocado salsa with baby spinach was Catriona and my favourite- amazing.
Two people opposite each other share the food presented on the tiered plates.
If you’d like vegetarian cut sandwiches, tell them when booking in advance. We forgot to, but of course Ramon was very accommodating.
Scones & Conserve
You can’t have high tea without scones- Date & Plain scones served with Tiperberry jam & Chantilly Cream
Mini dark chocolate cups with chocolate mousse, cream & fresh raspberries
Mini Lemon cheesecake with pistachio on top
Strawberry and vanilla mini tarts
Velvet cupcake with icing on top.
I’m not a fan of chamomile, but the chamomile and spearmint is gorgeously refreshing. I prefer savory to sweets. The tea cuts the sweetness of the sweets. Turkish Apple is a bit too sweet for me.
“This one is amazing- strawberry and vanilla- I think it’s the vanilla beans- often people use vanilla essence which tastes nothing like vanilla.” Ben Xu. A gorgeous slice of fresh strawberry on top.
Fresh raspberries- divine. Reminds me of Tasmania.
“I like the lemon one the best,” said Kristin.
It sounds all so decadent and gorgeous. You need to come with an empty stomach.
What a perfect opportunity to chat quietly and intimately. Much goes on during those times. We connect on deeper levels and life becomes more joyful. The darkness makes for intimate conversations.
It’s mostly women when you look around the room.
Ben: “I love high tea.”
“What do you love about it?”
“Everything about it. I always love those old English things. Even sitting upright and eating properly, not slouching with a fork.”
Which led to a discussion about men and chivalry, opening car doors.
Ben asked me to pass him a sugar cube. I noticed there were no little tongs to grab the gorgeous sugar cubes.
“Is there anything I can get for you?” the waiter asked.
Everyone said no. I mentioned the lack of tongs, and he brought them on a tray.
An in-depth discussion of yoga and pilates, the benefits of each.
Kristin is donating money to charity every time she says something negative about herself- negative self-talk.
Discussion about energy, obstacles and manifesting.
CP “You don’t realise how powerful you are…. protecting my energy.”
“We just got to talk about tea and fun stuff. There’s no pressure to perform.”
Catriona re nscm: “networking chit chat… It’s so friendly. It’s literally having a coffee. It’s not cliquey, it’s very open and friendly.”
Let our lights shine as women.
CP “Do you follow @Towncrier? He was hilarious over Christmas… it made me laugh… he was tweeting everything his 14 year old cousins were saying…”
“It was the first time I had confidence… it was my dream come true. The first thing I sewed was little bags for my wedding.” KR
As women, we love dresses, fabrics, people, beautiful things, chatting, catching up. It’s my idea of heaven on Earth.
Taking clients to Japan
CP 2 birthdays, talked about her childhood living in Dubbo with holidays in Byron Bay.
Ben: “My mother was head chef at Bodhi” a vegetarian yum cha in the city.
My dream holiday is to go to the best tea houses in China and Japan, just drink tea and enjoy life.
“One day we’ll have to go to the best traditional tea house in China.”
Ben: “The best is a family friend of ours. He goes everywhere and brings his own tea.”
I appreciate great food, but don’t learn the art of cooking. My brother is the chef in the family. I think cooking takes too much time, makes too much mess and is gone too quickly. Tea is my thing.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I like tea, tea pots, tea cups, tea canisters, tins of tea and tea shops. Last time I came back from Vietnam I had 85kgs in excess baggage, mostly tea sets.
I love sitting quietly with friends, old and new, for hours, pouring tea, eating and chatting. Sitting, we can stop for hours, together and just drink tea.
I’m very fussy about my sencha (green tea). It’s a delicate art, it needs to be brewed at 70-80 degrees Celsius or it gets bitter. The sencha at The Victoria Room was too bitter for me.
Green Tea Tips: At home I put the green tea in my glass teapot, I use a glass teapot so I can see the leaves. I fill it half with cold water, half with boiling. 70-80 degrees C. Pouring boiling water on the leaves makes the tea bitter. I let it sit just long enough, it’s intuitive, from experience. I never leave the tea leaves sitting in water, that makes it bitter. I pour out the brewed tea until there is no water left. I drain the pot then leave the leaves for next time, so when I go back to it and make another pot, it’s not bitter. If you leave green tea sitting in warm water, it goes bitter and yuk. A lot of Vietnamese people prefer bitter green tea, they purposely use boiling water and leave the leaves in the water all day. I can’t drink it if it’s bitter. C’est ca.
“Great service, a wonderful atmosphere,” said Kristin.
After two or three hours of drinking tea, a visit to the bathroom is required and the luxurious, opulent bathrooms are waiting.
The hand pump soap is Aesop, it smells divine- mandarin rind, rosemary leaf and cedarwood atlas.
I touched the red velvet on the chair seats.
We stepped out onto sunny Victoria St and I said, “Shouldn’t we go back in?”
Back to the real world.
Air conditioning in buses is glorious in this heat.
It’s important to take time out of our busy lives to treat ourselves to out-of-this-world experiences.
http://www.thevictoriaroom.com We sat in the booth in the picture on the home page. There’s a vast array of meals and special events.
Photos kindly taken by Ben Xu & Frances Jones (c)
Please do not use without permission.