A friend of ours is having a significant birthday and is a bit of a high tea connoisseur. Google is my friend, and I found somewhere she hadn’t been before – Prohibition Restaurant. The website is awesome. It’s full of flavour, really evokes images of a bygone era and looked divine! And they stated that they have gluten-free options.
We rocked up this afternoon and the ambiance and decor certainly did not disappoint. The rooms were amazing (we especially loved the red lounge which looked like the perfect place for a 1920s themed murder mystery), the toilets have to be experienced to be believed, and the old leather-bound Encyclopedia Britannicas on the shelves of the room we were in looked great.
The tea selection is varied, and you choose two cups of tea to have with your high tea – in theory, one from the ‘Savoury” tea list and one from the “Dessert” tea list. The service is exemplary – informative, pleasant and efficient. The food looked outstanding and reports from around the table were that the scones with jam and clotted cream were light and fluffy as air, the small muffins with prawns, cucumber or ham were flavoursome, and the cakes divine. We all agreed that it was a wonderful place for high tea, and the price tag of $34 was very reasonable.
I know you’re all waiting for the “but” and there is one. When I booked (three weeks ago) I advised that there was one gluten-intolerant person coming along, and could they do a gluten-free high tea? They assured me that they could. When I rang yesterday to confirm, I checked again that they had recorded a gluten-free high tea, and yes, it was all good. The reservation written in the book showed one gluten-free high tea. But when the high teas came out, clearly they had not made any provision for a gluten-free option.
The waitress took the high tea away, and came back with a couple of platefuls of food for me. Everyone else got a neat, 3-tiered display set, and I had a couple of plates (I put one on the top shelf of the tiered tray so it would look nicer). The savoury portion of the high tea was three triangles of gluten-free bread, one with cucumber, one with prawns and one with ham. The kitchen had warmed the bread, and it was nice gluten-free bread, and the toppings were lovely (although I couldn’t eat the prawn, but that’s not their fault), but I was disappointed, especially given the quality of everyone else’s food.
The sweet plate contained two of a brulee, two of a chocolate mousse and two meringues.
The desserts were delicious – light and tasty. Those are mine at the top. The non-gluten-free ones are at the bottom – a fruit tart, lamington, chocolate cake, creme brulee, white chocolate mousse.
It was quite apparent to me, and the rest of my party, that no effort had been made to provide a gluten-free high tea for me, despite the advance notice and the reminder. Clearly the kitchen had done its best with limited time, and sorted out three dessert options which were gluten-free and hauled out some gluten-free bread, and I did appreciate that they found a way to accommodate me. But I was hoping that they could have done SOMETHING more adventurous, especially as I had given them plenty of notice. It wasn’t like I had just turned up on the day expecting them to come up with a delightful platter. Even providing a scone or muffin would have been nice.
So yes, Prohibition Restaurant is a lovely place to go for high tea, and we did have a wonderful, social time. But if you’re going, and you’re gluten-intolerant, do not go with any high expectations of anything extraordinary. I wouldn’t recommend it for the gluten-intolerant, but it’s a lovely place for those who aren’t!
UPDATE as of March 2013 – check out this post for a much more positive experience at Prohibition, now called Nostalgis