A beautiful high tea by the sea

by | Jan 22, 2024

Having grown up on the sandy shores of Durban, in a middle-class family, the Oyster Box was always the epitome of class, sophistication, and style. They were always an aspirational destination, a ‘Mama I made it’ destination. I remember saying one day I’m going to bring my daughter here, I’ll dine on the terrace and I’ll have my ‘I made it moment’.

And this December I did just that. It was my first time back in YEARS… and I have a 16 month old daughter now and it was her first time in Durban. So the stars aligned and hubby, Mimi, my dad and glammie headed off for some sunshine, sea and high tea!

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Festive Season Cheer!

We went over the festive season and I must commend the hotel on their décor. No detail was overlooked and it was absolutely amazing! We rushed in like children going to Disney land, cellphones in hand, big smiles on our faces, and chasing a toddler. The staff are so well trained and they even offer to take incredible pictures of the guests. Mila Rose  (Her nickname is Mimi) loved all the baubles and décor, the only thing she loved more than the décor was the famous kitty, Scabenga who got scratched and cuddled and kissed to death by the toddler.

And then it was finally time for our high tea. This was a first for my family and something we were all so looking forward to.

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The Palm Court

The Palm Court can be found on the ground floor of the hotel, right in the center, this is where the famous high tea is served. It’s a sunken lounge area with a double-volume sky-lit ceiling, adorned with slow-turning antique fans and candelabra-styled chandeliers that kept my daughter mesmerised. This hotel is the epitome of bad and boujee (in the best possible way) and we loved every second of our experience there.

When we arrived, we were welcomed with a warm smile, before being escourted to our table. Tables are limited, so please do book in advance to avoid disappointment. They are often booked for weeks in advance, at a time. There is something iconic about the cane furniture seats, adorned in soft, comfortable, floral fabric – it’s a timeless, vintage look that will stand the test of time and never date.

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High tea time

Shortly after we were seated, we were brought a glass of sparkling MCC (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options were offered). There was some Oyster Box blended, Scabenga tea (with his cute face on the box), and crystalised sugar sticks on the table ready and waiting for us too. My dad loved the crystalised sugar sticks and kept having more tea just so he could use them (LOL). He thought that was very fancy and now wants these for his house. There was also a selection of fruit juices available and we ordered cappuccino’s which were filled to the minuscus of a beautiful tea cup so you could feel like a real queen, and fluffy, hot chocolates were also served while we were there. The food was so beautifully displayed we were almost too scared to dish up and eat it. This really is a special experience and a feast (for the eyes too).

There seemed to be a celebration at every table around us, judging by the balloons, flowers and gifts on each table. The wait staff didn’t want Mimi to feel left out, so they brought her, her own red balloon too, which she dragged around for the entire time we were there.

After we had settled in and enjoyed our hot drinks, we headed off to indulge in the cornucopia of food options waiting for us in the middle of the room.

The food was so tasty and delicious and we were keen to try a bit of everything, some things we wanted to try a few things over. My strategy was to start off with the savouries and then end off with the sweets and to my horror, my eyes were bigger than my stomach as I started getting full after the savouries alone and I didn’t even get to try one of everything just yet and I have a huge sweet tooth, so I was really looking forward to those treats since I saw them upon entering the Palm Court.

Everyone at the table oooh’d and aaaah’d at every new petite morsel we tried out. My personal favourites were, the mini lemon meringue pies, which were bite sized, sweet, tangy, citrus delights, the mini milk tarts which were rich and creamy and the perfect size, and the chicken mayo sandwiches rolled in almond flakes, loads of flavour and crunch. However, I must admit that everything was well balanced, and tasty, there was nothing that was offensive or a big no for me. All dishes were prepared using fresh, seasonal ingredients and you could taste that, which makes such a difference and the options were constantly being refilled, so there is no scarcity of food. Don’t be shy, dig in!

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Other foodie items you can look forward to trying out are:

  • Sushi and no it’s not all vegetarian sushi. There was salmon, crab, tuna and a variety of other options available.
  • Three full sized cakes including carrot, chocolate, red velvet
  • Bite sized chocolate cakes, mini apple crumbles, chocolate eclairs, tea cookies, madelaines and more.
  • Scones with strawberry jam and cream
  • A selection of cheese, pates, and fresh fruits
  • Cucumber and mayo tea sandwhices
  • A generous selection of savory tartlets, wraps and canapes, smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwhiches, sliced beef canapes
  • There are also a selection of sweets in jars throughout the hotel

In amoungst all of this we were also brought a selection of samosas, chili bites and a delicious dipping sauce for the table. Although, I think my dad and hubby thought these were just for them, the way they tucked in. we caught up and chatted about our family holiday, all while listening to a pianist playing in the background. Everything about this experience, from the service, to the ambiance and the food was five star. It is very difficult to find fault in anything. They even catered to my little one, they brought her a high chair, and some guava juice and Mimi even tasted cherries for the first time, and was suddenly hooked on them. So our waiter brought her a whole bowl for herself and I think she ate 5-6 whole cherries on her own.

Ofcourse I bought her some cherries when we got back to Joburg and she didn’t want to know them anymore. There must be something special about the cherries at the Oyster Box. They even had a baby changing bathroom upstairs. While we had everything we needed to change her, they do stock the change rooms with baby essentials, which is such a special touch. No small detail is over-looked.

There are a handful of places that we’ve been to in South Africa who uphold the age old tradition of the high tea, to the highest standards and I must say, The Oyster Box is definitely one of them. If you are looking for an authentic high-tea experience, please look no further.

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High-tea preparation

I would recommend having a light breakfast in the morning so that you can really indulge in the high tea option which opens at 14h30 and ends at 17h00, although we left at 16h00 because we had a flight to catch, if we didn’t, we definitely would’ve stayed longer to enjoy the pianist, the atmosphere and to have another cup of tea.

The price is R450 pp. After all, this is a celebratory venue and not somewhere you just go to on a random Tuesday afternoon. The menu easily has over 30 options to choose from, so there’s something for all tastes, including vegetarians. The menu changes regularly, so you are guaranteed not to get bored if you plan to frequent the venue. It’s also nice to try something new every time you visit. Don’t be shy about going back for seconds, no one is judging you and the wait staff are happy to see you enjoying yourself.

One glass of complimentary MCC per person is included in your price, as well as a selection of teas, filter coffee, hot chocolate, cappuccino, latte, and fruit juices. The standard of service is extremely high and attention is given to every single table. We dressed smart casual, in linen dresses and sparkling sandals, but I was definitely tempted to dress in an all-white suit, pearls, and a hat, like I had imagined doing as a child.

As we got ready to leave, I could not help but feel incredibly blessed. A milestone I had manifested, had finally come true. Seeing my dad and Mandy enjoying their meal, watching my hubby de-pitt cherries for our little one and watching my daughter drink her watered-down guava juice and cherries, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the experience. I knew that in that very moment, I was literally living my dream and that wasn’t lost on me. I picked my gleaming, emotional self up, tipped our waiter generously, and we took a few pics around the hotel before leaving, full, happy and content.

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Make your appointment today!

Bookings must please be made in advance as they’re booked out for weeks at a time.

Tel: +27 31 514 5018

Email: restaurants@oysterbox.co.za

NOTE: Guests with nut allergies should advise a member of the team before dining.

Have you indulged in a High Tea Experience before?

Let me know about your experience in the comments below.

I’m just a girl who loves new beauty products, alternating between being a blonde and a brunette, travel tips, parenting hacks, eating out, and having fun!

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I’m just a girl who loves new beauty products, alternating between being a blonde and a brunette, travel tips, parenting hacks, eating out, and having fun!


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