This is not JoJo's and LiLi's first High Tea rodeo.
The greatest challenge that LiLi encountered during her time in Melbourne, was finding the right partner for all her food misadventures.
In Perth, she enjoyed the company of all of her dear friends at all types of soirées, JoJo being one of them. When she moved to Melbourne however *cue tiny violin*, she found herself suddenly alone. The prospect of frolicking in Melbourne's famous food paradise grew with each passing day. How would LiLi enjoy these delights in newfound Melbourne? Did her friends enjoy this pastime? Apparently it wasn't on anyone's agenda. Luckily, with old mate JoJo's arrival, she could finally fill in the gap left by that void.
High tea has always provided a bit of joy to our otherwise mundane lives. Dolling up in dainty outfits, anticipating the delicate treats, sipping on new and different floral teas and of course, the modern twists that take you by surprise in this otherwise ritualistic tradition.
JoJo spent a week raving on about a review she had read about an up and coming "raw" high tea that was vegan friendly. For the month of October, Yardmill Kitchen and Grocery is offering a different take on the usual High Tea experience. Would the limitations of the vegan and raw lifestyle change what High Tea was all about?
Eyebrows raised as JoJo and LiLi imagined the possibilities. It generated enough interest for these two ladies to venture out into the wilderness of South Yarra to see what all the fuss was about.
Yardmill Kitchen and Grocery can be found along Toorak Road, just a couple of blocks away from Chapel Street.
It wasn't at all hard to miss with adequate signage and the alfresco seating from the street, even still, LiLi had a bit of trouble spotting where we had to go. In fact, they were a couple of steps away from actually running into the Yardmill sign on the ground and JoJo was still trying to point out where it was to LiLi.
LiLi, you need to get some new glasses.
We were welcomed in by smiling faces and were shown the seats the had put aside for us but asked if we wanted to sit closer to the door way. We liked that we had the choice and decided to go and settle in up front of the shop.
First impressions of the place was that it was very small but cozy space. Think of a row of small wooden tables, lined up against a wall with chairs seated at either end with enough foot space for people to trek by you as you eat to gander at the display case (pictured above).
Don't forget that Yardmill doubles up as a grocery as well, so you can expect a fair bit of foot traffic.
What we've failed to mention so far is that we were actually a little early to our High Tea appointment, not at all realising the time. The friendly staff insisted it was okay to start earlier and we loved them all the more for it, even though we would have been quite alright waiting around!
We started with teas and it was recommended that we stick with the herbal teas to compliment the High Tea offerings. JoJo went with Lemonzilla (as name suggests, is lemony) and LiLi grabbed the Spring Tonic which was more of a peppermint tea.
Our teas had only been laid on our table for a couple of minutes before we saw Catherine, one of the staff at Yardmill, coming towards us with a High Tea stand ladened with precious little treats.
There was barely enough space on the table for us to fit everything but we didn't mind all that much - the curious oddities on the stand stole away our attention. Everything on that plate looked as though they had been carefully crafted out of love and care and we couldn't wait to see if they tasted as good as they looked.
The top layer of this set was reserved for savouries, the middle layer was a combination of savoury and sweet to transition into the final bottom layer, which consisted of the most HEAVENLY SWEETS. WE LITERALLY COULD NOT EVEN.
First up, little crostinis made out of seeds and grains that had been dehydrated. To the left, an olive tapenade spread over top, with cucumber, rocket and tomato and to the right, pesto topped with avocado, lettuce and tomato. Quite delicious.
The middle layer contained two contrasting dishes - a kimchi rice paper roll and a moist carrot cake with cashew frosting. LiLi commented through out that the rice paper roll felt a bit misplaced amongst the offerings so far but Jo liked the way that the carrot cake cut into the tangy left overs from the kimchi.
Either way, they were both dishes that were very well done.
Bottom layer. GOD, WHERE DO WE START.
Maybe with what we started with which was pretty insane. These two slices were presented to us as the "Snickers slice" and Yardmill's take on the winning orange and poppyseed flavour combination... in a slice.
Our eyes practically bulged out of their sockets as we bit into the Snickers slice - so moist and satisfyingly rich, but not overkill. The orange atop the next slice provide a pleasant pop of flavour and added textures.
Ah may zing.
Next, a passion fruit and mango chia seed pudding. Interesting - we tried to appreciate each individual layer but found that the pudding worked much better when mixed together.
LiLi's favourite - the Rasberry Lemon Bliss dipped in white chocolate. Think of biting into a dense but moist berry flavoured rum ball - but as you cut into the centre you are met with a strong, gooey tangy lemon core.
Okay Jo's favourite, hands down. A chocolate pudding topped with cacao nibs with raspberry chia. This literally tasted like chocolate cake batter - chocolatey, creamy and silken.
A very thoughtful dessert with consideration to texture and complimentary flavours.
I didn't know what to expect with this raw high tea experience. I thought to myself "how would it even work?". I'm used to highly sweetened, often processed foods so it was going to be a grand new experience.
One thing I had trouble with was the space. There wasn't much of it and it's difficult for me as I'm clumsy and working with minimal space becomes tricky. The shop itself is small and the table slotted in the aisle corresponded to the available space.
We were told to eat the high tea top down but with all the different flavours, I would have taken a different approach in the order I ate the food. My recommended order is pesto raw bread crouton, olive raw bread crouton - this being savoury to move onto the carrot cake, the zest from this would flow onto the kimchi rice paper roll, then the tang from that accommodate the raspberry ball, orange poppyseed cake, chia passionfruit before ending on the two most richest food items of the snickers bar and chocolate mousse.
I can safely say Yardmill sets itself apart on many levels. When the high tea tier was set, the chef helped explain each item in detail. Never have I ever experienced a chef coming out to greet the guests and go over each food item. The high tea experience didn't make you feel overly full and you legitimately will not come across many "raw" high tea indulgences in your lifetime. If they continue this beyond October, I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to broaden their high tea encounters. Add this to your list of things to do.
I don't think I'm ever going to have another high tea experience like this. This was definitely a stand out for me in amongst all the other dainty little High Tea ventures I've had.
Yardmill felt very homely and warm which ultimately did it for me. Everyone was eager to help out or talk about their product range. It was clear that they were very passionate about their offerings. I also liked that they gushed about their favourites and once we tasted the food, it wasn't any wonder why.
I adored this set and found that item on that stand served a particular purpose. It was very playful - rich, tangy, savoury, creamy, sharp... it literally had it all.
Stand outs for me where the kimchi rolls, the slices and the chocolate pudding. Oh and the frosting they used on the carrot cake made out of cashews with coconut and lemon zest. I did not know I could ever enjoy something that boasted to be made out of cashews as much as I did that day.
I've brought up my time at Yardmill Kitchen and Grocery with several friends since going and would come back again. I didn't spend long enough looking through their other offerings, but what I could see - healthy pizzas, home made soups, lemongodamnmeringues - was enough to make me want to come back, even if i hadn't had the high tea. They have a lot to offer and even provide delivery services.
Food and Drink: 4.0
Customer Service: 5.0
General Atmosphere: 3.5
Value for Money: 4.0
Food and Drink: 5.0
Customer Service: 5.0
General Atmosphere: 4.5
Value for Money: 4.5
All in all, a really great experience for the both of us. We've both talked about coming back at a later date, but if you get the chance to partake on Yardmill's take on High Tea - we would most certainly recommend it, even for those who don't follow the raw, vegan lifestyle!