Mr Munch and I had dined at the Vaucluse Tearooms once before when it was time to "Meet the Fockers" - you know the time when your parents meet his parents for the first time?! The meeting was a great success (luckily my mother isn't a sex therapist) and I have fond memories of the experience - the food, the service, the ambience and most definitely the location. So ten years on when we returned with two kids, a mortgage and an Etag (because we have moved to the other side of Sydney) I had high expectations of our visit and I am very happy to say that they were all met, if not exceeded.
The Vaucluse Tearooms take up residence in an art deco building within the gardens of the stately Vaucluse House. Once you have parked your car within the ample car park, you wander up the lawns to the tearooms where you will be greeted by the friendly staff. For peak times such as lunch and high tea, I suggest you make a booking, however when we arrived for breakfast early on a Saturday morning (8am) we walked straight in and had no problem being seated as we were the only guests dining.
Out on the patio is the perfect space to sit when dining with kidlets as they can run around on the grassy area in front of where you are sitting. When their meal arrives you can holler for them to come and eat (actually maybe just politely signal to them instead, as hollering doesn't seem to fit the refined situation that you are dining in). There is seating inside but it is a white tablecloth kind of place and in my experience kidlets and white tablecloths don't mix too well. There is some room for prams on the patio and there is easy ramp access. There are also high chairs available for little bottoms to sit in.
There is a dedicated children's menu and at breakfast time little ones can have a boiled egg and soldiers for $8. If you kids don't dig eggs, there are also house baked muffins and toast with the most delicious house-made jam available. At lunch time a ham, cheese & tomato toastie ($8) is on the menu or they can have fish cocktails & chips ($12), but my personal favourite is the kids lunch box ($14). The box includes a chicken sambo, cheese stick, veg quiche, cupcake and a juice! The tearooms also serve babycinos, milkshakes, soft drinks and of course table water.
Little Marionette coffee is served at the tearooms and it was excellent and of course being tearooms they have a decent assortment of teas from Chamellia. I am unfamiliar with the Chamellia brand but apparently it is premium organic tea from Sri Lanka. This tea would be perfect with the Vaucluse Tearoom's famous High Tea. Their high tea costs $49 and includes so many little delights such as house made brioche doughnuts with lemon & lavender sugar and high tea isn't complete without a glass of fizz - Australian sparkling is served on arrival.
For breakfast adults can select from the "Up With The Birds" menu that is served until 12pm. I was quite shocked, considering the post code that we were dining in, that nothing on the breakfast menu cost more than $15!! And for $15 you can feast on buttermilk pancakes with tangelo and whipped ricotta or the very decadent sounding churros french toast. We went for healthier options (as our new year resolutions are still loosely in tact) and chose poached free range eggs on toast ($12) and the fig & maple granola with greek yoghurt and berry jelly. The eggs were perfectly poached and you can choose what type of Brickfields sourdough you want them to be served on. The granola was deliciously crunchy and full of nuts but I did find the berry jelly to be a tad too sweet for my liking.
At lunch time you can have something light like a gourmet sandwich or salad, or something a little heavier such as linguine, snapper, spatchcock or a beef rib and as the menu is seasonal their flavourings may change. The kitchen actually has a "garden to table" philosophy as they use produce that is grown in the grounds of Vaucluse House. The tearooms are fully licensed so you can have a stiff drink if the kidlets (or the Fockers) are getting on your nerves.
After your meal it is time for a wander around the stunning grounds. You can visit the gardens at any time and there is no charge. The gardens are expansive and the perfect spot to play hide and seek for kidlets. If you have little ones who enjoy wandering through old houses (mine don't) then you must check out Vaucluse House. It is open from Friday - Sunday between 11am and 4pm. There is an entrance fee ($17 family) and you can walk through yourself or join a guided tour. During school holidays there is a vacation care program run at the house and also school holiday activities that you and your kids can join in as part of the Sydney Living Museums program - click here for more details.
At the back of Vaculuse House your will find an animal enclosure and vegie patch. The enclosure has a couple of goats, some chooks and a duck or two. The vegie patch has heirloom vegetables growing and don't be afraid to go into it and have a wander (perhaps don't let your kids pick anything!). I just love the fact that we could wander all over these grounds without paying a cent and without anyone breathing down our neck making sure we didn't touch anything! If I had done my research better before we arrived I would have also known that you can wander further afield and see both a waterfall and the beach in the outer limits of the grounds. You are even allowed to bring your own picnic in and throw the rug down anywhere in the grounds. The walk around the gardens has reasonable access for a pram, however if you don't want to be limited in what you can see and do pop your poppet into a baby carrier.
If you and your family still need entertaining after all of this, then perhaps a visit to one of the gorgeous surrounding beaches would be in order - Nielsen Park, Parsley Bay & Vaucluse Bay are all within walking distance if little legs haven't lost all of their energy. If you need to use the facilities before you leave, there are toilets near the stables (with a baby change table) and also toilets back near the car park.
I thoroughly recommend a visit to the Vaucluse House Tearooms and its surrounds whether it be for a Meet the Fockers experience or just for a family meal in a special location. It's also the ideal place to take visitors from overseas, interstate or the country as it showcases how fabulous Sydney is! I'm sure it won't be ten years before we visit again....
Do tell Little Munchers, where would you take visitors to in this beautiful city of ours and where did your Meet the Fockers experience take place?
Wentworth Rd, Vaucluse NSW 2030
02 9388 8188
Open: Wed - Fri 10am - 4.30pm; Sat - Sun 8am - 4.30pm