Alex: When one (I) thinks of hight teas, it’s generally a bunch of ladies sippin’ on some English breakfast as they laugh and scoff down some scones, talk about stereotyping much? There was none of that to be seen at the insanely magnificent Cortile Lounge at the Intercontinental Sydney. For starters, I am not a tea drinker, while I appreciate all the different flavours and what not, I’ll generally never drink one…anywhere, unless I’m sick. So when I heard about the somewhat infamous ‘High Coffee Experience‘ at the Intercon I was intrigued amused and uncomfortably excited. I hadn’t even had any coffee and I had the shakes!
The Cortile Lounge offers both High Tea and High Coffee packages but for anyone who is serious about their coffee and enjoys a good amount of quality food that isn’t a buffet, then read on because this is gonna knock ya socks off!
Before we began our seating – Head Pastry Chef Youssef Arderdour (who before starting at the Intercontinental worked with Alain Ducasse) informed us that the idea behind the High Coffee was that you were taken on a journey and each coffee that was brought out was made to compliment the different food so clearly by this stage we were like little lost puppies who were dying for some sugar.
Our lovely waitress brought out the first coffee of the day, The Cortile Espresso Martini made with Vittoria Single Origin Estate Coffee. I don’t understand how anyone could not enjoy an espresso martini, alcohol, and coffee, two of the greatest things ever. The martini was strong but were a great accompaniment to our first serve of savoury delights.
The first out of the three was the Quinoa Salad with heirloom tomato, basil, garden pea and smoked mozzarella. Light and aromatic with a hint of citrus. There was some contrasting textures that were enhanced by the juxtaposing flavours.
I’m not a fan of seafood so they made this for me instead of the salmon croissant. A vegetable sandwich consisting of eggplant and capsicum. A simple dish that was done well. Great smokiness to the capsicum that enticed the senses with a strong hint of citrus.
One of our faves was the Chicken and corn roll w/ mayonnaise. Exceptionally creamy and rich in flavour. If that bun was warm and soft this could’ve reached perfection!
By this point, we were already on the verge of purge but alas, we soldiered on and were hit with the next round of savoury treats. Included were a Beef & Guinness Pie, Quiche, and a Moroccan Vegetable Roll. All were substantial in flavour but the winner was definitely the pie. I did think the Moroccan vegetable roll had some interesting flavours. All went well the accompanied Garlic Aioli sauce.
I’m going to quickly skim through all this because I think the photos do the food justice! This was the warm sweet selection. And we were brought our second coffee. We had a choice of a piccolo latte or a cold drip coffee. Myself and Bianca went for a skim piccolo, while Vanessa went for the cold drip. I generally don’t enjoy Vittoria coffee but this piccolo was phenomenal. Really good coffee and so was the cold drip. Very refreshing and with a dash of sugar syrup it went down a real treat. Chef Youssef explained that representatives from Vittoria visit quite regularly to make sure the beans/coffee are being made in accordance with their preferred methods, to extract as much flavour from the coffee as possible.
We were well and truly gob-smacked by how much food was actually coming out. We didn’t know how we were going to do it, so…insert 15 minute fat nap gap here.
Add some of the home-made jam and cream and ding ding ding you’ve got yourself the star of the show!
So…by this point eating all of the beautifully presented desserts became more of a mission than anything else. The pink crunchy ball had an oozy centre which was quite intriguing and the peanut butter popping candy was exceptionally rich.
Another favourite was the odd but delicious Basil lemon pavola with Valhorna chocolate.
Obviously by this stage we had the sugar shakes or whatever you want to call it so why not just top it off with an Affogato with vanilla bean ice cream.
A phenomenal experience that took us a good 3 hours to get through! I’ve recommended this to everyone I have spoken to. It’s great value for money ($60pp including the espresso martini) and is great when you’re catching up with friends or simply to just sit back and enjoy. Perfect for a late Sunday lunch. The views from inside the hotel are enough to make you feel as though you are in Europe sipping on an espresso.
Until next time!