I had long heard about the vintage high tea at House at Dempsey but hadn’t had the chance to visit earlier as the high tea is only available on Thursdays and Fridays. Just when I was planning a day out for the husband’s Big 3-0 birthday two weeks ago, I realised his big day was on a Thursday. What a perfect timing! When I told him I would be treating him to a high tea buffet, his eyes lit up instantly. The word ‘buffet’ never failed to excite him, lol.
This vintage high tea experience was rather unique, something that we had not come across anywhere else. We loved the food which were presented as table hors d’oeuvres with pretty and exquisite canapés from both the sweet and savoury departments. The variety wasn’t huge, in fact, many were repeated but everything was of quality which was most important.
And the icing on the cake would have to be the buffet set-up that made use of all kinds of vintage and old school knick knacks that kind of brought us back to the past. It was a picturesque scene that I couldn’t help snapping away. The atmosphere was equally charming. Laid-back and quiet, totally relaxing. To be honest, we hadn’t had such a peaceful, calm yet enjoyable meal in a long while so we were truly appreciative of what House had to offer.
I shall now let these photos do the talking (this is a really comprehensive post that probably showcases the entire buffet)!
We opted for the homemade ginger tea which was obviously a wrong move as I didn’t expect their ginger tea to be such a strong and spicy brew that really overpowered everything else you put into your mouth. I would suggest to leave this tea till the end as ginger eases digestion.
We requested for a change of tea to Vanilla Sky (slightly sweet with obvious hint of vanilla) as well as a change of our tea cups. All these were speedily attended to by the service staff. In fact, we managed to try all four teas and the staff would just replace our tea cups whenever we had a new brew so as not to mix the flavours up.
White Rose was our favourite flavour. Light with a hint of floral scent. Especially effective for washing down those cloying desserts.
Here comes the sweets…
As every piece of food was small in size, the husband and I managed to try everything except the mesclun salad which didn’t look too exciting. So how did the food here fare?
The charcoal burger bun was a little too thick (if compared with the amount of filling) but was really fluffy like a soft pillow. I enjoyed the tender chicken breast that came in a white cream sauce that wasn’t too rich. The overall combination with the bread, cheese, tomato and spinach was nice but I just thought the bread was a little too heavy.
The beef lasagna was tasty just like home-made ones. Rich and cheesy but wasn’t sensational.
The truffled deviled eggs had a smooth and creamy texture but I found them a little under-seasoned so they were quite bland. Despite that, the husband still ate at least 5 or 6 of them as he’s always so crazy over eggs!
The ragout vol-au-vent was superb! The puff pastry shell was warm and crispy and the baked cheese on top just gave each morsel that extra punch especially if you adore cheese as much as we do.
I totally heart the pizzas that were served on these really skinny crusts that resembled a cross between paper prata and naan bread. They cracked easily when held up but they were very light and crunchy (only if you pick the fresh ones) so we could enjoy a few more pieces of each flavour without filling ourselves up too quickly. The squid ink pizza was my favourite as the squid was beautifully blanched and was soft and tender to the bite.
The smoked salmon was normal. Though the soft pancake base looked like an innovative pairing, I didn’t think it tasted good as the texture of the tasteless pancake was just limp.
The rice paper rolls (or Vietnamese spring rolls) were filled with this sweet and sour chicken alongside crunchy vegetables that paired really well together with the sweet chilli sauce. Refreshing bite.
The mushroom tart was another winner with a buttery and crumbly crust but it wasn’t greasy to the touch. The mushroom filling was the same as the topping used on the Wild Truffled Mushrooms Pizza which was earthy but juicy and flavoursome.
I always love breads, especially freshly baked ones. There were 3 types of artisan breads in the basket at the Bread section but I chose the Ciabatta because it looked more crusty with lots of air pockets. Taste wise, I simply loved it! It was warm, crispy and really fluffy inside. Best of all, it was just fresh!
The cheese wasn’t labelled but it tasted like matured camembert with a smooth, runny interior and overall it was quite bland and light which might be perfect for people who don’t appreciate smelly cheeses. If there could be another option of a stronger flavoured cheese plus having some crackers, nuts and dried fruits available, that would have been a more complete cheese experience.
There were 5 different toppings or spreads that you could enjoy the bread with. Three of them were repeats from the savoury sections i.e. the Wild Truffled Mushrooms (that were used for the pizza and tart), Beef Bolognese (used in the lasagna) and Thai Chicken (used in the rice paper rolls). Though the flavours were the same to what we had eaten earlier, pairing them with bread or enjoying them on their own did them justice because we could really taste the ingredients without other distractions.
I liked the mushrooms, chicken and tuna the best because they had robust flavours. And somehow mixing them up worked well too. Must try! The cheese & olives was too bland for my liking and the beef bolognese was just too common.
The husband insisted that I took a picture of his ‘customised’ truffled mushrooms pizza. Because the toppings were repeats, the husband was able to scoop more of the mushrooms (from the bread table) to bulk up the pizza to a huge mouthful. Greedy!
I couldn’t wait to try the desserts even though I was supposed to be on diet. I only took a small bite from each item just so I could try everything. And of course, the husband would finish the rest (thanks dear as always!).
The orange-choco scookie (scone + cookie) had a citrusy flavour that was balanced out by the slightly sweet chocolate but overall it was too dry to be swallowed. The citron tart had a soft and moist crust as well as a great balance of sour and sweet. Reminded me of the very nice lemony tart I had at Landing Point which I’d still prefer over this. The caramel puff was so plain looking but the inside custard was amazing because it was smooth and silky yet not overly sweet. The caramel coating on the outside was also subtle and had a nice hint of vanilla. Yum! Get me a few more please!
I was happy to see linzers that were served warm (with this fresh from oven smell) and crumbly with this strawberry jam filling that wasn’t overly sweet. The fruit tart crust was a little undercooked and had this slight raw dough taste to it but the custard inside was nice and the diced strawberries were sweet. The bitter chocolate tart was another winner for me as it was a perfect balance of bitter and sweet with gooey chocolate at the bottom and chocolatey tasting mousse on top. The chocolate cupcake with pink-coloured cream cheese frosting was moist but the frosting wasn’t cheesy enough.
The buttermilk cake looked like a madiera cake. It tasted a bit lemony, was moist but very dense. The pineapple used on top of the upside-down cake was bitter. Pity. The cake itself tasted like the buttermilk cake so it wasn’t great. I thought the cheese cake was way too soft as though there wasn’t enough gelatin in it to hold it all together. Also, the taste just wasn’t cheesy enough. The choco banana caramel cake was very artificially flavoured. Tasted as though it was made from a packet cake mix. It looked very chocolatey but didn’t taste like it at all. Disappointing.
Our final plate of desserts included the choux bun pastry that was quite dry, apple custard cupcake that was very moist but very sweet and cloying, financier that was very sweet like a kueh baulu soaked in sugar syrup, double choco cupcake that had a rich chocolatey flavour but was just too sweet as well. I liked the sweet stick which was a crispy pastry stick with caramelised sugar and the chocolate biscotti that had a lovely nutty flavour from the generous amount of sliced almonds.
The 3 mini glasses consisted of yogurt pineapple coconut jelly that had crunchy shredded coconut, earl grey panna cotta with bitter tea leaves and sundae which was just brownie with cream. Nothing spectacular.
The desserts might look appealing but taste wise, they paled in comparison to the more outstanding savouries so I decided to end my meal with more of my favourite savouries instead. I couldn’t resist extra helpings of the rice paper roll, ragout vol-au-vent, squid ink pizza (this time with a big fat juicy prawn instead of squid), thai chicken, pineapple tuna and truffled mushrooms and of course, the husband requested for 2 more deviled eggs too, lol.
I swore this was our last plate! Too good to miss! ;p
After we were done with the food, we merely sat back and sipped tea to our hearts’ content just to enjoy and treasure every moment. By the time we were leaving, it was almost 5.30pm so we stepped outside to have a look. I could hear the sounds of the cicadas in the background. Just love how close to nature this restaurant is. I’m sure it’d be nice to sit outside for a drink in the evening when it’s cooler.
At S$30++ per person for the high tea buffet, I do think it’s a value-for-money meal even though the food variety isn’t big but good enough to make our tummies happy without the urge to overeat (yay!). The entire dining experience was a delightful one. The service was also impeccable. Absolutely nothing to fault on. Best of all, the birthday boy enjoyed himself tremendously 🙂 A high tea worth returning for.