The Austen Tea Room, named after the famous British writer Jane Austen, occupies a corner in suburban Essendon. The seating out on the footpath is both inviting and popular in good weather – otherwise venture indoors. After my visit, I re-read The Austen Tea Room website, just to see whether I missed anything – and it seems that I have. Apparently there are specific rooms that are used for High Teas and are prettily decorated. I definitely don’t see any ‘rooms’, but perhaps it’s because upon entering, my friend and I make a beeline for the only comfortable chairs in the cafe, and by doing this, miss the passage to the stylish tea rooms. We are both surprised that it feels more cafe than tea room, with the only connection to Jane Austen that’s evident are the few pictures of Collin Firth and Jennifer Ehle from the 1995 Pride and Prejudice British television mini-series. There’s no dainty tea and dinnerware for a plate of scones, so I assume things like that are reserved for the ‘High Tea rooms’. I try one of each of the plain and fruit scones on offer this day. Both are fresh, even at 3.15pm. The jam is good enough, but is nothing more than average. The double thick cream is divine, making this a lovely spread, even though there is nothing ‘tea roomy’ about the experience.
Tea: A few varieties of loose-leaf teas served in a small teapot. A hot water refill is definitely required.
Overall: Not a fancy tea room like the website portrays.
Location: 40 Nicholson St, Essendon VIC 3040 Ph: 03 9326 2966 theaustentearoom.com.au
Reviewed in September, 2017