21 May 2012

A Quest for Scones - Winchelsea Tea Rooms

I have a dear friend, let's call her Lady J, who is a knitter. A voracious knitter, you could say. You will rarely find her without a half-knitted something in her bag. I will admit I've taken advantage of this over the short time I've known her, having acquired a pair of socks, gloves and two hats (all very cosy).

As it would happen, Lady J's birthday is coming up and there was a particular wool shop she wanted to visit near Colac, so as a bit of a pre-birthday expedition we set off on the weekend on a quest for wool and scones. Because every good road trip should include scones and tea at some stages, no?

We did a bit of "pre-research" and decided the Winchelsea Shire Tea Rooms looked like the perfect place for our mid-morning stop, being set in a lovely stone building that was the old shire offices.

Looks promising...
Cafe Review: Winchelsea Shire Hall Tea Rooms
Where: 28 Hesse St, Winchelsea

We arrived around 10.30, and there was only one other table occupied in the spacious room. It was beautifully fitted out, reminiscent of a proper old English tea room with luscious red carpet and crisp white table cloths. Lady J and I order a pair of scones to share, and a pot of English Breakfast, all full of anticipation.

For anyone who's already skipped past all this to check out the final score, you'll know already know this anticipation was.... misplaced.

Ok, I realise I can be picky about my tea, but I do think if you are a "Tea Room" there are two things you should be able to do well - tea and scones.

The tea was...odd tasting. I can't put my finger on it, but it was not at all enjoyable. It probably didn't help that the small zero Japan tea pot was absolutely stuffed with tea leaves. I did appreciate having a small pot of hot water provided if we wanted a second cup, but I would have preferred a bigger pot with that amount of leaves.

Sadly, the scones were also uninspiring. They were lovely and warm, but mine was overcooked on the bottom and Lady J and I both agreed the texture was on the overworked side.

I won't pick on the poor serving girls because in my opinion they probably hadn't been trained well enough, but Lady J would like me to add that the collection of items for sale in the side room was as disappointing as the tea, and the thick, cheap china didn't add to the tea drinking experience.

All in all, I would advise travellers in the area to give it a miss. There are enough tea rooms littering the high way without trying this one. I really think, given it's an iconic building and the elegance they are clearly trying to aim for, it could have been so much more. The luke-warm, random tea from flasks Lady J and I had for afternoon tea, with a home made chai tea cupcake (recipe coming soon!) was infinitely more satisfying, though that could have been due to the turn of weather in the afternoon? Tea is all about company and atmosphere after all.
(Incidentally, if you are a wool enthusiast, I can't say enough good things about Tarndwarncoort. Even if you just go to walk around the garden.)
Can't beat tea and a cupcake
on top of a car

The Rating
Atmosphere: 4/5
Available food: 2/5
Tea range: 2/5
Tea had: 1/5

Overall: 9/20

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