The thing that will probably arrest your motion walking past the Hopetoun Tea Rooms is how perfectly the photogenic cakes and desserts go with the intricate interiors of The Block arcade, accompanied immediately by the impulse to walk inside and sit down.
Or, perhaps what you might see first is the long line of people waiting outside an already bustling interior at 5pm in the afternoon, which promises quality and also spurs you to join the line. It's a little late for afternoon tea, but who says you can't have dessert before dinner?
Props to V for braving the line for us while C and I made our way back down from The Trunk because he is amazing.
Unlike your typical airy, pastel-filled high tea environment, the aesthetic beauty of the Hopetoun Tea Room interiors is of a decidedly different flavour - bold, bustling and intricate, with just a hint of Ancient Greek flair and Victorian inspired decadence. Judging by the dozens of cameras pointed regularly around the walls of the small tea room by the guests, the boldness pays off.
The unfortunate thing about wandering around the Melbourne CBD for the entire day on a food tour is that you end up with just enough appetite to half-half two cakes with your travel buddy, instead of going all out with tea or a chocolate milkshake, like V got.
They really should make a cake menu though - somehow, shuffling out of the crowded tea room in droves to go and look at the cake display from outside didn't seem to be the most efficient way.
The lime tart was rich and sweet - perhaps a little sweeter than I was expecting - and the pastry was surprisingly soft in the bottom, not quite the shortbread crumble that I adore so much in tarts.
The red velvet cake was a confection of soft, light sponge cake that collapsed with a fork stab and I'm going to use the word 'moist' in the best way possible here. The cream cheese, though, was a little too subtle in flavour for it to give me that 'cheesecake' feeling. The middle filling really reminded me more of white cream than anything - and there was a bit too much for me (I'm not a fan of white cream as a general rule).
I had a bite of V's chocolate dessert, which was the special of the day. The ice-cream melted very quickly, considering the temperatures were glancing past 35C but you can't beat the rich, creamy smoothness of chocolate, chocolate, chocolate (and the occasional burst of raspberry). It was dark chocolate to boot, which is the best type, really.
I wish I could say the Hopetoun price point was easily accessible but it's definitely an indulgence. But, hey, you're on holiday, you're walking off the calories and the night is young. Go for it.