Dining Out: Ladies Lounge High Tea For Two At Mona
by Stephanie Williams
I was recently invited to join a gorgeous friend for an afternoon of high tea and bubbles in the Ladies Lounge at MONA, a private area of the museum in which only, and all, ladies are welcome. It’s billed as a session of high-society hobnobbing, and inspired by the possibly-embellished story of Kirsha Kaechele’s great grandmother: a scandalous socialite who threw ladies-only parties at her Beverly Hills and Basel estates, but for me, it was a beautiful excuse to catch up with my friend for a few hours. We took the ferry – the best transport option, as we were pre-warned there were quite a few alcohol pairings to exploit – and upon arrival were greeted by our private butler. He presented us with very glamorous, very long emerald green velvet gloves, embossed with gold-threaded KK initials and asked us to follow him into the depths of the museum to the Ladies Lounge. We sign a disclaimer and hand ourselves over to Kirsha and the butlers.
The lounge was awash with green, and we blended in wearing the black, green and gold we were asked to sport for the afternoon. After admiring some pretty, shiny things in cabinets, we’re told we can choose a piece to wear. What a treat. We then took our seats at the white marble table to start our high tea. Our two butlers gently fit us with a black blindfold and slide our first taste in front of us. “Explore,” he said. And we did. Our fingers felt around the textures and nervously, tentatively, we placed various morsels in our mouths and hilariously (we thought!) tried to identify them. “Fried wakame?”, “some sort of wet seaweed,” “a squishy ball of weird jelly.” All delicious, definitely adventurous and matched with Moorilla sparkling.
While blindfolded we forgot we were sitting in the gallery and that people were observing. We’d become artworks. And the shot of absinthe early in the proceedings definitely helped. One woman even walked past us twice, trying to work it out. “OMG are YOU the art??” she enquired.
The courses and matched alcohol continued – a golden tree structure that held a savoury goats cheese macaron, a cigar humidor housing cheese, an eggshell filled with edible flowers, caviar service (my favourite), they kept coming. But dessert… out came our butlers with what felt like 15 small shell plates, spinning them onto the table, each holding a sweet bite of dessert including a gold-dusted chocolate vulva.
The finale came as our butlers closed the gallery for ten minutes to all visitors so my friend and I could enjoy the space privately. Quickly we raced to the massive green sausage like lounge to lounge and laugh, gaining a new perspective on the space and the beautiful glass chandelier from another angle. We bade farewell to our private Ladies Lounge experience and headed back out into the museum, wearing our gloves and a groggy little glow.
Saturday and Sunday, 11am and 2.30pm,
$500 each pair of ladies.