Wait what? I thought High Tea was an English specialty! Indeed it is. However, two enterprising Mexican sisters brought a French version of the famed in-between dish the English invented to Austin. Founded a little over two years ago by sisters Nelly and Linda Garcia, Rocheli Patisserie is an original outpost in several senses. First, it is a bakery specializing in teas curated and imported from France.
Nelly explained how the shop came about. “When my sister and I were growing up in Monterrey, our next-door neighbor was a bored French woman who asked my parents if she could teach me and Linda French. My mother was delighted, so we were allowed to go to her house daily. That began when I was four years old. Meanwhile, we watched her bake loaves of bread, cakes, and other French delicacies since we were at the house, and the aromas were enticing. Eventually, we learned how to bake.”
I wondered if Austinites were familiar with the art of High Tea and knew what to expect, like clotted cream or scones. “We have introduced these items to many people here who had no idea how to eat a scone; butter and then jam on top of it, for example,” said Nelly, then added, “Some people think it’s a whole meal and wants to eat a large portion. They’re surprised that High Tea is not a traditional meal.”
High Tea Service
The High Tea service costs $65.00 per person, including a refill on scones and sandwiches and a bottomless array of tea from the entire tea cart. The other service costs $50.00 and offers a choice of four teas without any refills of tea or food items.
Everything is made fresh daily in-house; everything is made in-house except for the butter. Order your High Tea in the morning before the specials run out. I had salmon with capers on a bread round with a dollop of buttery cream, a Swiss cheese finger sandwich with a smear of Boursin-like cheese, a cucumber sandwich filled with sour cream, a fruit tart of light vanilla filling in a perfect crust, a chocolate croissant, scones with homemade raspberry jam and butter, a Madelaine made with a hint of ginger, and a Canneles. Canneles are known in the Bordeaux region of France and look like miniature castle chess pieces. Once you bite into the crunchy outside, oozy caramel atop a soft brioche-like inside pops flavor into your mouth.
Besides the Ritz Carlton Hotel in NYC, Rocheli is the only other retail spot in America to serve tea the royals drank at Versailles Palace; the Marie Antoinette is made with rose petals from Versailles. The Parisian is made with rose, raspberry, and lychee. The Thé du Hamamm is a fruity blend of orange flowers, dates, red fruit, and rose. I tried the Marie Antoinette, the Moroccan Mint, and the Thé du Hamamm. There are two tea menus: the extensive Classique with ten choices and the Royale with four tea choices.
The pastries are scrumptious. Besides those on the high tea carousel, I took home the best-selling white chocolate croissant pudding (left). The sisters’ mother made the ingenious recipe. Day-old croissants of every flavor, almond, chocolate, plain, and butter, are used, and these delights taste better than bread pudding. As a fanatic bread pudding dessert lover, the hint of white chocolate in this spongy, warm cupcake-shaped pudding makes it quite obvious why it’s a best-selling item.
I saved the strawberry cake-filled cupcake with chocolate and a mass of rose buttercream on top to savor later on.
Even if you’ve never traveled to Paris or New York, Austinites have lucked out with their little bit of French wonder right in East Austin.
You’ll need to book a reservation for High Tea by calling (512) 220-4107 or mailto:email@example.com
Rocheli Patisserie is located at 1212 Chicon Street. #102, Austin, 78702
Second Photo: White Chocolate Pudding
Photo credit: Elise Krentzel