382 Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd
Sassafras VIC 3787
+61 3 9755 1610
Labour Day Monday was a day which saw Linda and I take a drive to the Dandenong ranges for lunch at Miss Marple’s Tea Room. Having heard that their scones were out-of-this-world, you can imagine how excited I was as we left my house at around 1:30pm for the one hour drive to Sassafras.
The tea room is pretty hard to miss. It sits grandly on Mt Dandenong-Tourist Rd amidst small, quirky shops selling antiques, clothes, jewelry and the most amazing collection of tea leaves. Heck, you’d think that you were in the English village of St Mary Mead rather than the outer Eastern suburbs of Melbourne (come to think of it, I’m still amazed to think that we were even still in Melbourne).
Now this was my first time at Miss Marple’s, but I’m well-aware of its reputation of being so busy, especially on public holidays. Because we arrived at 2:30pm, we thought that we had beat the lunch rush and that we could secure a table for two. WRONG. We were told by a glum waitress (who didn’t look too pleased to be working on a public holiday) that we should come back at a quarter to four as she wrote our names down on the long list of names on the waiting list. “But don’t you guys close at 4pm?” we asked, “And will you still be serving then?” “We’ll be serving as long as there is still power,” said the lady rather dismissively while, looking at the grey clouds gathering outside. She must have saw our glum faces because the next thing she said was, “Alright then, 3:30pm. You never know, a lot of the people on the waiting list never show up at all.” Well, after we exhausted our fill of the neighbouring shops, we came back just after 3pm to try our luck only to be told by Miss Sour Face that we still had to wait. She went away and in her place was a different waitress who looked a bit more pleasant. She started calling out names of people who were on the list above us, but no one answered her calls. Finally, Linda decided to use her charms by telling her that we were “not far down the list” and whether we could be seated as it was obvious that the people above us had given up (for all we know, they were probably standing outside not able to hear their names being called hahaha). After calling a few more names out and seeing no one else come forward, the lovely waitress showed us to a table right by the window. Score!
After ordering several items off the menu, comprising of oldies such as pies, sandwiches et al, we received our drinks immediately. A luscious iced chocolate for Linda ($5) and a teapot of Taylors for my ($3.50). I would have loved to try their vanilla milkshakes or even their ipsy wipsys (which were essentially spiders) but I chose the tea because it was voted the “best cup of tea in England” by the British Tea Council. To be honest, I didn’t really find this tea overly exciting. It was a bit like drinking a sweeter and smoother version of Lipton, really. Next time, I’ll go the ipsy wipsy.
We shared a chicken cottage pie ($13.50, beef also available). Now, I had a beautiful chicken, tarragon and mushroom pot pie at Circa, The Prince the previous afternoon (review to come) so I knew that it would take something special to top it. I will admit that Miss Marple’s pie was nowhere near as good as Circa’s pie but it was able to hold its own. As you call tell from the photo, the folks at Miss Marple’s aren’t big on innovation and instead rely on the tried-and-tested (and dare I say, dated [parsley sprigs for garnishes, anyone?]) when it comes to their offerings – but hey, it obviously works. The filling, comprising of delicate chicken breast fillets with chopped corn, peas and carrots, was beautifully flavoured with ‘Miss Marple’s Own Sauce’ which I suspect consists of gravy and hints of curry powder. This was then topped with a generous mountain of mashed potatoes. Comfort food at its best.
We also shared a serving of fresh chicken, cheese and asparagus fingers ($13) which were essential cut-up bits of open toasted sandwiches. This was something that I could easily whip up at home (it wasn’t like they used high quality bread either, just bits of wholemeal sandwich slices) but I happily devoured my beautiful fingers hungrily as they were so so good. At this stage, we were pretty much full but we had to stay for one more dish: Miss Marple’s famous Devonshire scones, which we ordered in place of desserts (which were so big anyway that we wouldn’t be able to finish one even if we shared).
For $8.50, one would receive two freshly-baked scones in a basket (either two plain or two fruit or, in our case, one of each) along with some home-made strawberry jam and freshly whipped cream. The scones, which were topped with icing sugar and looked more like sponge cakes than actual scones, might look really tiny at first glance but they really do fill you up. Both the jam and the cream were surprisingly amazing too and rather than play second fiddle to the scones, they actually made them taste even better.
I swear, folks. Best. Scones. Ever.
We left the tea room $43.50 lighter, 10 billion pounds heavier (which we managed to counteract by driving up to Sky High for a walkabout straight after) and a million times happier. This was Linda’s x+1th time at Miss Marple’s and it certainly won’t be my last. Like I said, their food might not be extraordinary but their simple, comfort food evokes all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings and are done quite well. Plus, the atmosphere is pretty out of this world too. Oh, and so are their scones.