54 Mount Street
Heidelberg VIC 3084
+61 3 9457 3356
MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, what did you get up to? I am so looking forward to reading all your blogs about the scrumptious Christmas lunches and dinners you’ve all been stuffing yourselves with (plus points for mouth-watering photos and recipes). I for one enjoyed a feast at home, starring a honey-glazed ham courtesy of my sister and a baked tarator-style salmon baked by yours truly. Want recipes? Simply find them on taste.com.au and type in “Greg Malouf salmon” on google respectively. For now, here’s a treat for you: Dolls. And scones. And tea. Where to find them? Dolls at the Mount.
It all started when I was on the computer the other week. Mum barged into my room, telling me that her friend had just visited an antique shop in Heidelberg that had a coffee shop attached to it and that the food there was OMGSOGOOD. The friend had no idea what the place was called nor was she even 100% sure it was in Heidelberg. But anyway, I was told to type in “Heidelberg tea house antiques” on google … and the first three results screamed “Dolls at the Mount,” a tea house just a stone’s throw from Heidelberg station. A click on Lorraine’s review of the place, with lovely photos and all, produced plenty of squeals from the two of us but ‘no’, my mum said, ‘this ain’t the place she’s talking about.’ Nonetheless, we could not find any other antique shop-slash-tea house in the area, leading me to believe that her friend was just talking sht or probably meant a completely different suburb. In any case, that didn’t stop the two of us (plus dad) from driving to Heidelberg last Tuesday to partake in one of their last high tea sessions before they closed for the summer.
Situated on Mount Street (aaah so THAT’S why they named it so!), the place is a little bit hard to find. We were trying to find the place amongst the row of cafes and shops across the road from the station but Dolls is actually an Edwardian-style period house that parades itself as a tea house during the day.
Walking up the creaky steps and onto an old verandah, I pressed the doorbell and stood there awkwardly while waiting for someone to answer the door. After a few minutes, we were still standing there so I pressed it again.
To my relief, a friendly face opened the wooden door and I was greeted with the sights of 10 billion (okay, not quite) dolls in the foyer … and a handful of giggling nine year-old girls milling around in the dining room.
We were seated by Vivienne, the brains behind this operation, and presented with menus. From reading food blogs and glancing at what other diners were eating, it was obvious that the special occasion tea (at $24.95 p/h) was the way to go. ‘But wait!’ my parents cried, ‘$24.95 per head?! WAHHH SO EXPENSIVE!’ Despite my attempts to tell them that $24.95 was, in fact, not expensive for high tea, they were insistent on getting ONE plate of scones to share. My desperation showing, I blurted out ‘If you guys get the special occasion tea, I’ll pay for it!’ and what do you know, that did the trick. Hah.
Because the place was pretty busy (it doesn’t look like it in the photos above but trust me, it was) and unfortunately short-staffed, we knew we were in for a long wait. Despite the fact that I was never into dolls as a girl (I had a couple of Barbie dolls but I had ripped both their heads off), I was nevertheless keen to suss out the doll museum around the corner from the dining room. Unfortunately, the room was full of nine-year old girls celebrating a birthday party so it was strictly off-limits so I had to busy myself by studying the intricate mismatched floral teacups and cutlery that adorned the table. All made in England, naturally.
I can imagine how hard it was for my mum NOT to casually drop these beauties into her handbag as they were so beautiful. Some of you readers will know that my mum’s got this fascination with antiques and old-fashioned crockery. At the moment, she’s really into teacups and saucers made by the likes of Royal Doulton et al, before they got palmed off to Indonesian manufacturers.
We all shared a teapot of English Breakfast tea (included in the special occasion tea). It was pretty inoffensive stuff, really, but the fact that they were served in cute Queen Anne teacups just made the experience a whole lot more fun.
We were then presented with a plate of half a dozen scones to share. Adorned with nothing but some icing sugar, the scones were amazing. They were soft, spongy balls of fluffy goodness that melted in your mouth when you ate a piece.
For maximum impact, eat with their delicious slightly-tangy-but-awesomely-sweet strawberry jam and whipped cream. OMFGYUM!
We were halfway into our second scones when we were presented with the pièce de résistance, two tiers of yummiliciousness. Despite the fact that we were almost full after eating the scones, we were all like ‘pffft, is THIS all?’ Sure, the tower was impressive but I couldn’t help but think, ‘This tower is as tiny as Nick Riewoldt’s wang; this is going to be EASY.’ I’m sure my parents were thinking the same thing, well, okay, using a much cleaner analogy. But either way, we were all wrong.
We started off with the sandwiches. There were three different varieties altogether: leg ham, tomato and lettuce, cranberry and turkey and egg and cucumber. They were delicious and they were the items that filled us up. Who would have thought that three measly sandwich quarters and two scones would fill us up?! Seriously, we were stuffed. As in, Australia at stumps on day two of this year’s Boxing Day test stuffed.
We did our best with the sweets but in the end, we couldn’t fit everything in and had to ask them to box the cupcakes, the yoyos and gingerbread shapes to eat at home. What did I think of the other sweets? Although I was disappointed not to see the famous sponge cake in the tier, the delicious Christmas treats made up for it. The fruit mince pies, for starters were arguably better than Dench Baker’s fruit mince pies which always gets a nod from The Age. They were not too sweet and the main reason why they won me over was because they actually put PINEAPPLE in it so it was almost like eating a pie with pineapple jam in it (and goodness knows how much I LOVE pineapple jam). I also thought the fruit cakes were fantastic and ditto the white Christmas slices, not because they were irresistible but because they brought back innocent primary school memories. Ahhh, to be a kid in the 90s again…
An old house near the Austin hospital is the least likely place that one would find simple, delectable yet extremely filling food accompanied by bottomless pots of tea served by the friendliest of ladies. But trust me, folks, go there for one visit and you’ll be vowing to bring your mothers, girl friends and nannas there next time. Heck, even my dad was initially apprehensive when he was faced with mountains of vacant-eyed dolls in frilly dresses and crockery that only a red-blooded male would describe as “gay” but he, too, grudgingly admitted that, food-wise, this place was “alright.” I would have loved to take my girl friends here during the Christmas break but unfortunately, Dolls are closed for the summer and will resume trading in February. What’s Plan B? Why, high tea at The Windsor in a few week’s time, naturally!