It was a bit weird to be drinking tea at a Merlo coffee shop but my first beverage in the newly opened Tearoom in the recently restored Old Government House building just had to be tea.
I've watched Old Government House for many years. First as a student (the verandahs were a great place for a picnic lunch) and later as editor of the National Trust of Queensland Journal. Old Government House was the Trust's headquarters for many years until it was turned over to the university.
Old Government House is perhaps the most significant heritage building in Queensland. The first public building to be designed and built in the new colony of Queensland it housed the Governor and served as a family home, an administrative centre, and a social hub for the new colony.
It's good to see that the building has been well loved and now is a fine place to reflect on Queensland's history. And forget the nay-sayers, this is definitely where lamingtons were invented!
The cafe is located in the original detached kitchen for the house and also lines the carriageway entrance with tables in the courtyard.
There's a lovely selection of teas including a blend called Ritz Carlton ( black tea, caramel, vanilla, apricot, cornflowers & calendula flowers) which I could drink all day. However I did follow it with a herbal tea (hibiscus, rosehip, orange peel, rose petals, cornflowers, safflowers & cats paw - not sure what cat's paw is) which also was very drinkable. I'd like to have it in the cupboard to reach for when I know I really shouldn't have yet another cup of tea.
The all day menu includes salads, tarts, soup and sandwiches but I think the real experience would be the Lady Lamington High Tea. This is a selection of ribbon sandwiches, home made pastries & tarts, lamingtons made from the original recipe, and lemon lime meringue chocolate pave.
If you want the lamington recipe you can buy a tea towel from the gift shop but they are rather exxy ($25 from memory). The Tearoom lamingtons are delicately sized so a lady can eat them delicately, but let's hope Lady Lamington is not watching!
Merlo's kitchen is headed by Garry Lyons, who you may know from the Fig Tree Deli, with Outback Matty, ex Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Foundation Program, in the kitchen. There's also a new pastry chef who is whipping up all types of delightful creations, including cupcakes topped with merange.
Old Government House has many different areas that are available for hire and would be wonderful for weddings or functions. The billiard room is a definite for a dinner party for 20.
General admission to the house is free and it's open 10am to 5pm everyday except Saturday. Find it in QUT's Gardens Point campus, just a short walk from the city centre, at the river end of George Street and within walking distance of Parliament House, The Botanic Gardens, The Queensland Museum Science Centre and Southbank.