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Category: high tea Page 1 of 2

Jimmy Choo high tea

When I saw the advert for this online, I jumped at the chance to attend what sounded like such a bougie high tea experience. At my current income bracket I could not hope to own a pair of Jimmy Choo’s shoes, so this would be my way of getting close to that lifestyle. However, things were not as expected, and I would continue to feel luxury at arm’s length this afternoon.

The event advertised a Jimmy Choo themed high tea tower, a look at their new fall collection, and a free gift. And it was the latter that sealed the deal for me and had me reaching for my wallet. I was most excited about the promise of a free gift. Not only would it be a great keepsake, but it would make the whole $150 ticket price worth it. I was expecting a key chain or a sample size of their fragrance to take home. Instead, everyone got a gift card, in a box, placed on their setting. It was a $100 gift card to put towards today’s pop up shop. Sadly, majority of the diners already splurged on this, and were not planing on spending more on a handbag at $1500 or a pair of pumps at $2100. So as it was the case with me, many gift card went unused. Left in the box to expire in less than a month’s time. The gift card had many stipulations. You could not combine gift cards, one per transaction; nor could you use them towards a fragrance. And there are no Jimmy Choo stores in Vancouver so you only had a limited time to redeem the card. A month, which is the time the pop up shutters down.

So already this event was off to a bad start in my books. And from here I was extra critical, trying to find value in what I had spent, yet coming out empty handed. For the visual blow by blow, and all the emotions, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

This high tea service, like all others at Fairmont Vancouver is held on the 15th floor, which is their roof. It is a lovely building with an amazing view, but the interior here is outdated, and nothing was done to mark the exclusivity of the occasion. You can enjoy tea here anytime with out a ticket, so I was wanted more bells and whistles for the commitment and price.

The only thing different, that was set up for the occasion was the showcase of Jimmy Choo shoes and small bags. Had I known this was targeted more as a shopping experience rather than high tea, I wouldn’t have bothered purchasing my ticket. And here I thought this was catered to us regular folk, a taste of the food life through finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets. Needless to say, I browsed the displays, lusted after the shoes, then simply walked away.

From here I continued to be disappointed in our food and drink offerings. You were able to choose your tea options from a list of 7. The menu listed them as “Lot 35 teas”, a brand I am familiar with, and one that I enjoy the prestige and quality of. One that I also felt would have matched well the feel of the space.

However what we actually got was tea by “David’s Tea”, as shown by the tags from the bags. It wasn’t bad per se, but it wasn’t what was advertised, and it felt a little too everyday for the upscale dining experience I bought in to.

We did each get a welcome glass of sparkling wine. This was not Moët, despite the menu listing Moët as the only option, at $30 a glass, if you wanted another. Yet another mar on the experience.

The actual tea tower was a pretty display. But besides a few of the desserts, it didn’t read any different or all that luxurious, or specifically like Jimmy Choo. I wanted more embellishments from each individual item, and a tray that was decorated and/or branded accordingly. I would valuable this at $50-60 for this. So I pretty much paid the remaining $90-100 for the gift card I will not be using. Nonetheless, the following is in the order of which we had them.

“Smoked salmon salad” with crème fraîche, salmon roe, and profiterole. Shredded fibrous salmon stuffed into a chewy pastry shell. The salmon roe was the highlight with its juicy pops.

The “Heirloom tomato” finger sandwich was visually appealing. Neufchâtel and balsamic pearls on whole wheat. The flavour came from the vinegary pearls, you had to place them strategically in order to get its tangy flavour with the other wise bland tomato sandwich. Some salt and pepper to taste would have been nice as well.

The “Traditional egg salad” came topped with thin slices of cucumber. It offered freshness and crunch to the otherwise pasty sandwich. The menu lists watermelon radish and brioche; I only got a sliver of the former as a garnish, and was missing brioche all together. As for the egg salad mixture it was chalky and light on mayo. Whereas I want tangy and maybe a little pickling from it.

The “Coronation Chicken” was my favourite of all the sandwiches. It had the most flavour with mango chutney, chilli, pickled walnut, and Pullman. The pickled walnut on top was interesting, it didn’t taste like a nut, and it wasn’t briny like a pickle. It was soggy and ate more like mushroom in its heartiness. The chicken spread was a tad spicy, and there was no sign of mango or its sweetness present.

I liked the look of the “Autumn harvest pea hummus” with prosciutto and ciabatta, but not its texture. And I didn’t find the ham and the hummus all that complimentary. The hummus was a pea forward grainy mush. The saltiness of the prosciutto hidden behind this flavour. The tangy goat cheese helped to pull it together, and the peppery pea shoots I found too much.

My guest doesn’t eat pork, so they substituted the prosciutto option above with beats and cream in another profiterole.

We each got two scones. One buttermilk raisin and one apricot. Served with orange marmalade, strawberry preserves, and clotted cream. The scones were perfect, exactly as I expected with plenty of spreads to give me the flavour I wanted.

For dessert, the two tone pink stiletto “Vanilla sugar cookie” was fun. Not too sweet, a great treat.

The “Macarons” were disappointing. They weren’t fresh. The shells were hard and crumbly and the cream, cakey. They were at least pretty in gold. Gold dusted caramelia cremeux and gold leaf topped elderflower cream. Neither were too sweet. Missing caramel, but got chocolate from the former. The latter was more floral.

The “Chocolate tart” was an explosion of chocolate, featuring a chocolate crust, a chocolate malt ball, a solid chocolate calling card, and plenty of creamy chocolate mousse. The Jimmy Choo logo was a nice tie in.

The “Orange pound cake” was a playful interpretation of one of the available to purchase Jimmy Choo handbags. The shade of pink was off, but the uniquely shaped crystal clasp was a pretty good match. I found the fondant too sweet, but the cake within, pleasant. Hints of orange from a nice sponge.

The most impressive of the lot was the “Lavender scented panna cotta”. All the balls and circles elevate this, adding juicy pops of jelly chews, along side the creamy panna cotta. The floral lavender notes paired well with the cassis brittle gel and passion fruit pearls. But it did get a little like eating perfume, towards the end.

The service was at least fantastic. Our server was attentive. He checked in on us and kept offering to take photos of us. And when we looked like we had, had our fill, he offered to pack it all up to go.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I expected a dip into luxury with this, and instead felt more on the outside looking in then ever. This was not for the every day person wanting to splurge, but a shopping experience for those who wouldn’t bat an eye at dropping $150 for a ticket to tea, and 2 more for each of their young daughters. Lesson learned, I will be staying away from ticketed high tea experiences for a while. Don’t deny your cravings.

FAIRMONT VANCOUVER
900 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC
(604) 684-3131
fairmont.com/hotel-vancouver

The Magical Brunch at the Fairmont Vancouver

As soon as it posted, I purchased my tickets for this unique high tea experience; thus saving on the early bird pricing. Held at the “Fairmont Vancouver”, I had high hopes of grandeur, coupled with dreams of castles and happily ever afters; like those belonging to Disney princesses. It was advertised as being Disney-themed, but not directly connected to, or affiliated with the “house of mouse”.

To skip the reading and just watch the highlight reel, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

Based on the event’s website, I expected decorations and plenty of photos ops, so planned to stop by early to enjoy those without a crowd or wait in line. However, this was not the case. Early or not, everyone was hoarded into a ballroom and told to wait in a line. A ticket checker in Mickey ears then came around asking to scan your passes. And there we stood, impatiently waiting until 15 minutes after the advertised event start time. It was planned at 2hours, so while holding my breath, I wondered how will they make up for the loss of time? $75-80 is steep for high tea. The venue made up for part of it, but the experience left me wanting more.

There are 3 different sittings throughout the day. The earlier brunch sessions were family friendly, while the evening’s festivities was adults only. High tea and sit down service in the AM. And a cocktail and canapé style event, with over 4 hours of entertainment, in the PM. I rather sit and take in the setting, than chase rotating small bites. Plus, we did plan on drinking, and preferred to do it during the day. We took full advantage of the alcohol available to purchase, but it would have been nice to be greeted with a welcome glass, to set the mood.

You trade cash for drink tickets, and use them to purchase your choice of beverages between classic martinis, craft beer and bottled wine. With a $2 difference between deluxe and premium labels. We enjoyed premium white wine, but wished for sparkling; I felt like that would have been more princess-like.

Seating is first come first serve, wherever there is room. Each table is named after a Disney movie or theme. “Jungle book”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “enchanted tiki room”, and/or “golden zephyr” (to name a handful). We grabbed two seats at the latter, only to have two families with small children join us. We ended up swapping tables, in search of one only seated with adults. This was to ensure that our drinking would go without judgement. Seeing as the room was split in two, with the dance floor down the middle, it would have been nice to split the guests by under 19 and over 19; with the bar centrally located in the latter.

Each table is preset with the necessary dish ware and cutlery, along with two tea towers for everyone to share. One of each item, for each person. However, you can get away with seconds if your table mates passed on theirs.

The menu for high tea was posted before the event, so I knew to be disappointed when we didn’t get what was promised. This was especially the case for the finger sandwiches.

Instead of a “Smoked Salmon & Dill” sandwich, we got an open faced cucumber and cream cheese with green onion. An easy and light start, but not the same without the salmon.

The listed “Roast Beef Horseradish Creme Fraiche” was actually ham and white cheese with mayo and zesty mustard. Once again, good, but not as good, when you know what you should have gotten.

I did like the “Chicken Salad” sandwich. I am not sure if we got what was planned, but it was delicious, and my favourite item of the brunch. Flavoured with fragrant curry, it was definitely memorable.

The online menu also mentions a “Tomato & Cucumber” sandwich as the fourth, but we only got three.

The “Freshly Baked Scones” were buttery soft and crumbly. Each person had two: one plain with powered sugar; the other, slightly salty with baked cheddar cheese. Good as is, but for those who needed a spread, there was “Whipped Cream & Fruit Preserves”. The latter, a nice mellow apricot.

The “Selection Of Petit Fours” did not disappoint. Other than the juicy raspberry tart with custard in a buttery crust, they were all decorated to today’s theme.

A mini chocolate cupcake with chocolate disks to represent Mickey Mouse and his ears. It was spongy and moist, best consumed in one bite.

The sugar cookie was shaped like Cinderella’s glass slipper. They even got the perfect shade of pale blue, to match her iconic ball gown. It was not too sweet, but buttery like the texture of shortbread.

And my favourite was the swirl of meringue, made to look like Olaf from “Frozen”. He was the most animated with chocolate arms and a whimsical facial expression. You felt bad biting into him, and having him crumble on to your tongue.

At the beginning of the service, servers came around to pour coffee or tea, and later again to clear any empty glasses. But the whole brunch felt pretty much like self serve. You get up to get your own drink, you use tongs to grab an item off the tea tower; and if you need anything else, you have to search for an employee to get it.

As you ate, actors recreated popular scenes from your favourite Disney cartoons . All set around “Beauty and the Beast”. Belle and the Beast are spending time together. Belle is recalling her favourite fairy tales, retelling them like stories, with the Beast listening intently.

Belle starts things off by welcoming everyone, and asking them to “be our guest”. She sings this large musical number, alongside her fellow princess friends.

Next, Ariel explores her underwater world and recalls her collection, though showing and telling.

Flynn and Rapunsel sing around her freedom and what the future holds for the two.

Then Aladdin takes Jasmine on a magic carpet ride, all the way “to a whole new world”.

Elsa proves that you don’t need anyone saving you, as she belted out: “Let it go!”

After, Belle and Beast took to the dance floor. There, they re-enacted the moment where they fell in love, mid waltz.

Then humoursly, the “show” closed with all the actors getting together to sing their favourite Disney song, “Hakuna Matata”; nodding well to the upcoming, live action Blockbuster movie.

Those who knew the words sang along to all the songs above. However, with all that was going on, and all the young kids walking through the dance floor with careless abandon, it was distracting. The live actors were great at rolling with things, as their microphones squeaked; and their dance floor saw congestion, as tiny bodies tried to hug their favourite princess. Despite all that, I still definitely preferred this high tea setting to the adult only cocktail mingler. Though the all ages aspect did take away from my experience, as a fun loving adult. If they repeat this event again, I would suggest having two lunch seatings, or brunch on two different days, with and without children.

There was a list of karaoke songs printed out and set at each table, yet there wasn’t any mention of it, or an opportunity to sing along to your favourite tunes. But that might be because they were having difficulties with their projector and getting their message across in the screen.

Along with the live show that came and went, with breaks between musical numbers; there were photo ops and vendors scattered through the ballroom. Not to mention, ones with the actors, once their performance was done.

A paper flower wall of blues, purples, and pinks with gold centres for you to pose in front of.

And a scene decorated to look like a forest clearing with paper mushrooms and butterflies, as well as artificial turf and tree.

There were also two tables where local jewelry artists were set up for shopping. This was a nice idea, but none of their goods necessarily matched the princess theme. Had they, I could see more guests becoming customers, purchasing diamond necklaces and matching earrings to fill out their look. Or something overtly Disney in tone, to take home as a keepsake. Instead, there were crystal necklaces, metal outlines of nature, and animals printed in enamel settings.

And the calligrapher who wrote out the name of each table was on location, creating bookmarks for all the guests. Your name against watercolour or metallic on black. This was a nice little keepsake, and helpful in receiving your seat. Shame, I didn’t wait the 5 minutes necessary to have it fully dry.

Overall the “Magical Brunch” was a great idea, but I would have liked to see it executed differently. The venue was stunning, but I would have liked two high tea seatings, one just for families and another for adults only. The photo ops could have used more props and something more representative of the theme, and maybe more of them. An underwater background for “The Little Mermaid”, the ability to climb up a tower to put yourself in Rapunzel’s shoes, and/or a frozen landscape to build a snow man with Elsa. They could have done much more to elevate this to the level of the “Fairmont Vancouver”, and I didn’t get that. Not to mention what was promised on the menu and indirectly in the photos used to advertise the event, did not measure up. Memorable, but I would not pay the price again.

THE MAGICAL BRUNCH
https://www.themagicalbrunch.com/

Audrey Moment Afternoon Tea & Cafe

Burnaby has its first tea house and I finally gotten around to checking it out. It is fairly close to Metrotown if walking, and if you are driving, they are conveniently in a shopping plaza with plenty of parking.

When you enter, the foyer has a counter with a collection of macarons you can take to go, loose leaf teas they sell by the pound, and potted succulents perfect for gifting.

We were led to the salon where the room was dressed girly. A collection of pretty bobbles and cutesy elements that don’t necessarily go together, but individually have their charms. Antique frames and worn wood shelves with elaborate crystal chandeliers and purple velvet drapes dressed with golden tassels. It all matched the soft music playing: top forty tracks without their usual base or lyrics. Pretty and melodic.

We were seated one of their carved chairs with pearlescent paint that matched the collection of white round tables. There was plenty of seating and coming 1 hour before they closed for the night, we were only the second group sat.

Our visit was a last minute decision, so I didn’t get a chance to book 24 hours in advance, meaning we didn’t get to try their trademark tea set served in a gold bird cage decorated with artificial rose buds on a vine. I even asked if we could order a random assortment of sweet and savoury nibbles and have them displayed on the specialty cage. It was a hard no.

So instead, we got the second tier “Afternoon Tea” set, the “Audrey moment” is a collection of four savoury items, two black current scones with Devon cream and preserve, and four mini desserts. $29.95 per person with a pot of tea each.

My guest got the jasmine green tea, a green China tea with jasmine flowers. It was served in a mismatching tea set with blue and gold speckled pot and a pink cup with a Victoria scene painted at the bottom of the cup and on its saucer pair.

I was given the option of one of their hot or cold drinks instead of tea in a pot, so I took the time to try one of their coloured lattes. You can choose your flavoured syrup and what colours you want. I went for A rose flavoured latte coloured with rainbow milk. Truthfully, I am not a fan of coffee, but will drink more if they look more like this. The “rose” was actually three dried buds that sank to the bottom of the cup. They didn’t look all that appealing, especially once all the colours of the latte art blended together became a murky green pool.

As for the tea tower it was served in the more traditional three layers of plates on a wire rack. We worked our way from savoury to sweet in the following order. Of note, everything is made it house and does rotate on and off the menu.

The “Egg salad sandwich” included tomato and spinach. It was plain, and could have used more seasoning in its egg mix, or some pepper as a minimum.

The “Bacon cheese quiche” had a but good ratio of cheese and bacon on a buttery crust.

The “Shrimp bite” was cold shrimp on toasted hard bread with a heavier dusting of paprika. Nothing special with this one sadly.

The “Chicken salad roll” included spinach, lettuce, celery, and mayo all bundled in a pesto wrap. This could have used some ranch for some bite.

The “Black currant scones” are worth revisiting, they too are made in house and are a staple, available all the time. They were nice and crispy on the out outside, and warm and spongy on the inside. Best with both the smooth Devon cream and sweet raspberry preserve as a spread.

For dessert they were pretty bites with some hits and misses. We both didn’t like the blue earl grey macaron. It was far too sweet and the texture stuck to your teeth. We both passed on any more after two bites.

The “Tiramisu pot” was a cute idea, but I wish you could eat the actual pot and that they used mint instead of parsley for the green. As far as taste it was good, especially as I am not a fan of tiramisu. This was a nice creamy dessert with spongy cake at the bottom and a crunchy crushed cookie topping. It wasn’t overly softened and soggy like the dessert normally is.

I did like the “Grape Napoleon”. It was light and airy, layers flaked off as you bit in, and powered sugar snowed down. Never had it with grapes before, but I liked the pairing. The firm and slightly tart grape with the sweet cream and buttery crust was a nice combination.

The “Passion fruit and mango panna cotta” was also tart, but more cheesy with its firm Greek yogurt -like cream. The popping juice pearls on top added some textural interest and a change of taste in between bites.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Everything is made in house and you can tell. I didn’t necessarily like each element, but as a whole I did enjoy the tea set enough; but not enough to to try their larger tea set with simply one more savoury item and another sweet, even if it is uniquely served in a bird cage. But I will return if I am looking for a nice tea and some dessert in such a spot when in Burnaby. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

AUDREY MOMENTS
120b-6540 Burlington Avenue, Burnaby BC, V5H 4G3
604 559-9789
audreymomentcafe.com
Audrey Moment Afternoon Tea & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yandoux , high tea service

I have visited “Yandoux bakery” once before, originally when they first open. Then, I came by for a sampling of their patisseries, served in decorative slices and miniatures. Since then they have established themselves as a to go-to for fine cakes, and the only tea salon in the Olympic village neighbourhood.

For the original visit post and more details on their decor and setting, click the link below.

Yandoux Patisserie

 

On this Halloween day we reserved a table for two, for their high tea service. An option that must be agreed upon by both parties dining. It came to $56 per person. Here, their set of miniature sweets and two bite savouries are served on a tea tower that is reimagined as a hot air balloon. A sculpture with a rounded bulb that swivels on its platform. This allows for the presentation for savoury bites to be lined up at the bottom, and the two top shelves for dessert.

You get to make two choices when it comes to this set. The flavour of your tea and the filing of your scones. For the former, I got the “Lady Hannah’s whole fruit” tea, after our server pointed it out as being one of their more unique brews. It is described as being bold in both its bright berry colouring that translates to its flavour as well. It was a little sour, but better after a few water refills to the metal encased tea pot.

My guest got the “Caramel” tea, a buttery brew with a hint of vanilla, best enjoyed with some milk. The menu likened it to “fresh caramel cooking on a stove top”.

When our server delivered our metal display, she suggested starting with the “Japanese miso glazed sablefish”, as it is the only item to be served warm. The tender and saucy fish is seasoned in maple syrup and served in a lettuce leaf with the dough of a spring roll that has been chopped up and deep fried. The result, a tasty fish taco with some crunch.

We were not a fan of the “Darjeeling infused chicken basket”. The flavour of the tea was overwhelming the chicken. It made the whimsical item heavy and bitter. Some additional green onions and more mayonnaise for freshness and creaminess would have helped. The waffle cone was a nice idea, but it really didn’t add anything to the portion. I would have much preferred to see this as a chicken sandwich prepared with some celery for crunch and gherkin pickles for sweet tang.

The “Ham bun bun” was an overly cute name for a ham sandwich. A slice of ham, caramelized onions, lettuce, and pickles between two well toasted slices of bread. Although, I didn’t taste the pickles, and would have liked them more pronounced either way. The sandwich was on the drier side, along with the ham. So some jus to dip into or some mayo would have helped moisten things.

Although well presented, the bowl of “mashed potato” was pretty uninspiring. Sweet corn kernels topped with piped potatoes, cream, and pepper. It ate like a side waiting for its meaty main to follow. It wasn’t a fun small bite to eat as is, and it really didn’t help to elevate the rest of the set. At $56 you expect more lustre for each element. I would have preferred a potato salad made with the same ingredients instead.

Where the mashed potatoes sans gravy brought the set down a notch, the “Salmon oshi” brought some of its grove back. BC wild salmon, jalapeño, and their house made sauce. It wasn’t the best or the freshest pressed sushi I have ever had, but considering that I was enjoying its flavour at a bakery, I deem it successful. It is just a shame that the rice was hard and dry.

The “Concorde salad” is basically a fruit salad made with the fruits that were in season, then topping it with cream. I appreciated the effort they put into peeling the skin of each grape and then slicing it into segments. Mixed with orange, strawberry, and raspberry; this made for a great palette cleansing transition as we went from savoury to sweet.

Once again, we were given a choice of scones. My guest got their dark chocolate version that came with large splotches of chocolate chip. I got the white chocolate scones with cranberries and found neither of them visible, nor did I make them out by taste. Although I was very generous with the fresh made berry jam and clotted cream they served with it.

On the same dish that the spreads were served on, were one of their house made macarons for each of us. Each was topped with a tuft of cotton candy that was quick to evaporate in the open air. Here, I would suggest removing the macarons from the tray and setting them aside for dessert. Otherwise the cream makes them soggy well before you get to them. I am not sure of their flavour, but I found it chocolatey and far too sweet.

Their “Matcha” cake did not disappoint. You got a strong matcha flavour with each bite, strong enough to make an impact, but not taste too bitter for a dessert. The sponge is flavoured Matcha, there is a match ganache, and the dessert is finished off with a dusting of matcha powder. Its filling includes a chocolate sugar and some marshmallow, this transition into some texture with a nice crispness to chew through.

Seeing that it was actually October 31, Halloween day today, our bakery/chef reimagined the other desserts with spooky detais. The box “Tiramisu” is prepared with mascarpone cream, jaconde, and nuts. The flavour was good, but I didn’t like its bulbous and grainy textures, it was like eating puffed rice and dry saw dust. Although, I still love it for its little biscuit tombstone.

Out of all the desserts the “Strawberry tart” was by far my favourite for taste. I found the house made strawberry compote very fresh. Its tanginess matched well the luscious cream, decorative and edible chocolate spiderweb, and buttery pastry crust.

The “choux” is a chocolate cream puff filled with a berry fruit compote and topped with diploma cream. With a set of edible eyes they quickly became spooky for the occasion.

As an extra Halloween bonus we were given a serving of banana cake on stick, which was off the menu. This was essentially moist banana bread, naturally sweetened by its feature fruit; and decorated to look like the elongated head of Frankenstein.

The following are some photos of the individual cakes that were available behind the glass showcase today. Which includes their Halloween line up that was only made available until end of day today.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I like the bakery for stunning small desserts, but wouldn’t return for the tea service. It was just okay, but considering that it was $56, it felt a little steep. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

YANDOUX
1731 Manitoba Street, Vancouver BC, V5Y 0H8
604-620-1899
yandoux.com

La Petite Cuillere, renovated

It’s been a while since I last visited “La Petite Cuillere”, so was excited to get this invitation to check out their new space and new brunch menu.  As the only high tea joint in the area, they have always been a popular destination for the community, so I was curious to see how the new management would put their spin on things and to improve the business.

The exterior no longer does the restaurant justice. Nothing catches your eye or draws you in to the hidden salon, behind the glass door and brick facade. Nothing prepares you for the air of luxury the space now has. Gone is the quaint and clutter-some space with its overflowing collection tea cups, tea pots, and tea paraphernalia to sift through. Now the place is sleek with velvet fabrics and metallic embellishments. And what remains of the tea collection is properly showcase on a wall-sized shelf. It feels like a whole new business, and the differing aesthetic is definitely catered to a different clientele.

Seating is either along their crush blue velvet benches, in of of their high back chairs with a metallic floral print, or in one of their pink velvet couches with its own headboard-like framing. Our group of five were seated in the latter to share our brunch and tea tower.

Their high tea service is their signature menu item. They offer their 3 tiered tower in all sweet pastries, all savoury bites, or a mix of both in varying sizes. You choose how much you want and which bottomless tea to enjoy it with. We shared their “Afternoon Tea” which included all the savoury and all the sweet options for $35. And at that price, this still remains as one of the least expensive tea services in the city.

Everything on their menu, including the following is prepared with as much tea as possible. And with most, the flavour of the teas were well infused. These were the same teas that they sourced themselves and then blended in house. “Most of the items on our menu incorporate some element of tea in the cooking process. When pairing food with tea, we carefully take into consideration aroma, flavour, taste, astringency, and texture”. Given the personal touch in everything they prepare, it is easy for them to customize and curate you a meal that accommodates your dietary restrictions. For example, one of our guests was gluten intolerant, and it was easy enough for the kitchen to whip her up her own tea tower that excluded gluten. The following is the make up of their regular tea tower.

From the bottom to the top, and savoury to sweet.

The soup of the day was a creamy cauliflower puree with notes of curry in its colouring and heat-y flavour. However, it was served chilled to compliment the rest of the assortment, served at room temperature. This was harder to share, as it is served in and intended as a shot.

The “Darjeeling chicken salad tartlet” was a nice mild bite. It was a mix of shredded chicken braised with tea, and crispy bits of celery for texture. It was flavourful with a buttery base. I personally would have liked it a little creamier and tangy with mayo.

The “Veggie Quiche” had the the same buttery crust as the tart above, just topped with baked cheese, caramelized onions, and earthy mushroom chunks. It had a nice fluffy and eggy texture to take in two bites.

The “Lapsang egg salad croissant” had creamy mix of egg, chives, pickled shallots, and cucumber. All together their smooth texture highlighted how light and flakey the buttery croissant that surrounded them was. This one was my favourite of the first tier.

The “Green tea goddess salad” salad was my least favourite. It really didn’t have enough dressing, let alone enough to taste the intended green tea flavouring. All I got was a fork full of bitter vegetable.

The second tier was my favourite for the sugar topped crumbly scones, served with preserves and devonshire cream. A classic high tea offer done well with their tea fragrance scones.

I was not a fan of the caramel flavoured creme burlee that came on the same tier. The torched sugar topping was as expected, but under it the creme tasted like heavy whipping creamy, flavoured with just sugar, I didn’t get any of the caramel.

The top tier was one that was hard to share with single serve desserts.

The “Mango and lavender macaron” was fresh with a crispy exterior and a chewy interior.

The “Earl grey cupcake with raspberry butter cream” was a spongey cake topped with sweet cream.

I much preferred the mildness of the cakey matcha loaf. This was a great accompaniment with the tea.

For my tea I went with the “Black tea with blossoms”. A medium bodied mix of black teas scented with chrysanthemum, roselle, and French rose; served in a reflective golden tea pot and one of their unique tea cup and saucer sets.

Brunch is all new and available every day they are open: Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 2:30pm. The following is 5 out of the 7 new dishes only available during this time slot.

The “Smoked salmon hash” was our table’s favourite. It is crispy potatoes, lentils, dill, and a soft boiled tea egg; coated in a Ceylon lemon aioli. This was very filling dish thanks to the lentils, although I didn’t like the added grit it gave the soften potatoes. I would have liked more smoked salmon and more dill flavour for increased tanginess. The egg was definitely the highlight, the perfect creamy yolk to pull the plate together.

The “La Petite Croque Madame” with egg, ham, swiss cheese, leek jam, and a Darjeeling bechamel was my second favourite of our brunch dishes. I could only imagine how much better it would have tasted warm, while the cheese that topped it was still crunchy. I wanted it more crispiness, whereas by the time we got to it, it was more like a dense and heavy scone (our faults, too much photography and too much talking). I could have also done with less soggy leek bits, as I am not a fan of their texture.

I was not a fan of the “Vegan buckwheat waffle”, although I can see this being enjoyed by vegans. It was a heavy waffle, made more dense with the bitter chocolate drizzle over top. The fruit compote added some freshness, but you needed more of it and the “cream” to give some brightness to the plate.

“Chai tea french toast”. This was a nice tea twist to a brunch-time classic. It is such a beautifully done plate, decadent in all the syrupy blueberries, camomile mascarpone cream, and candied hazelnuts. You could absolutely taste the inclusion of tea in this, it balanced out all the sweetness. A great side dish, or brunch “dessert” to share, but the entire plate by yourself might wear out fast.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I love the new decor of the place, it is definitely now more of my aesthetic. Decadently ideal for a more romanticized high tea service. A more refined assortment of full plates and light sweets, thanks to a kitchen that is dedicated to “food creativity”, as shown through their use of teas to flavour. This is the ideal spot to bring all your girl friends to for some tea, sweets, and the perfect photo op. The perfect place to celebrate a bridal or baby shower, or a sweet sixteen at. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LA PETITE CUILLERE
55 Kingsway, Vancouver BC, V5T1R9
604-298-0088
lapetitecuillere.ca
La Petite Cuillere Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Carnival High Tea at Notch8 Restaurant

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I am a fan of the pageantry that high tea brings. The fragrant brews and the small bites, offered in a cozy setting. The ideal setting for a girl’s get together with the ability to sip and soak, to take our time, and savoury not only our food; but one another’s company.

“Notch 8” is one of my favourite restaurants, one that I like to keep my eye on. Not only are they a lovely establishment, but they offer unique and often timely events for those who know to check back with them. Today I was here for their newest high tea theme. “Carnival Tea”: tea and sweets with some whimsy.

Their event space was decorated for a day at the fair, “inspired by the curious and intriguing Golden Age of traveling carnivals”. It revolved around a spinning Ferris wheel, in place of the traditional tea tower centre piece. It wasn’t the most practical contraption to eat off of, but it will definitely be one of the most memorable. I just wondered how many of these they invested in, for an event that only runs from September 1st to November 13, 2016. And how many seatings at $54 a head they would have to book to recoup their costs.

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Having learned from the peace I got from a weekday service, at an earlier time, I sought to replicate my experience today. Wednesday at 11am, my guest and I had the lay of the land. But being one that doesn’t like to keep my meal waiting, I was early. However was forced to wait in their lobby, as they weren’t quite finish setting up the room, and not allowed in until a few minutes after 11am. Not that my waiting was in a bad scene. Comfortable loungers sandwiched between the likes of high end luxury boutiques: “Omega” and “Dior”, with the view of the restaurant’s lovely lobby before me. It’s trademark pointed lights and the sounds of a soft trumpet from some causal jazz ruminating from beyond the hostess booth. It is certainly quite the threshold to ascend upon.

Our destination was a step down nook in the main dining area. Boxed off from the rest of the vaulted ceiling restaurant, it gave us a bit of privacy for today’s meal.

The books on the shelves from the last event was left behind, but gone were the clocks and rabbits, and instead it was milk jugs and tin cans for toppling with baseballs adjacent, tiny carousels and elephant figurines, spools of admission tickets, and medicine jars of black and red liquorice rope and coloured candies.

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On the walls were black and white photos of fair grounds and old timey posters advertising fortune tellers, a big top act, clowns, and human side shows. On the floor were more milk jugs set up like pins, trunks of popcorn, and a brimming collection of amusement game tickets. It was all very lively, however as one who was here for the theatrics, I felt it lacking in the carnival theme. They could have took this a step further with coloured balloons, some magic rings, bells and hoop, and a shroud of big top stripes across the ceiling.

I had a similar feeling towards the dessert Ferris wheel, the reason why I ventured down here today. It was a wonderful display, but at the same time could have been more: more glitzier, more befitting of a carnival.

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We were given a four top table and shared the love seat on one end. Our server approached is with a complimentary cardboard container of popcorn, with the traditional fair stripes of white and red. It was a mix seasoned popcorn of caramel and regular salted butter. Despite it being served room temperature it was pretty good. My guest liked it so much that she insisted on finishing it, even after our main meal arrived. It was a light salty and sweet to wet our beak.

The tea service included a special cocktail list that accompany it. A list of circus and carnival alcoholic attractions. A cherry bourbon cola, a spike plum ice tea, and a glass of champagne that featured a tuff of fresh cotton candy.

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I was immediately sold on the “Lavender earl grey snow cone” with lavender earl grey infused vodka, lemon juice, and blueberry syrup. It came in a paper cup, balanced on a glass. Once again, I was missing the whimsy, and for $15 I wanted more than crushed ice and syrup. A stripped cone that didn’t get soggy in my grip, a wire stand with tinsel to hold it up. Maybe a sparkler to dance on top of the beverage. Instead, I was forced to finish my morning cocktail fast as the liquid bled through the cardboard cup. And sadly, it was more blueberry juice than anything else, and I was fool by the novelty of it. I didn’t get the kick of vodka or the floral fragrance of lavender.

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Our server was kind enough to pace it with the delivery of my tea. She gave me sometime to enjoy my cocktail before bringing out my kettle of steeped tea. This allowed me to enjoy the cold, and to have the heat of a hot tea for longer. I took her recommendation of a black tea. She said it would be more complimentary to the sweeter portion of our service as it offers a nice break between flavours. The “Royal Bengal Tiger” was from Sri Lanka. It has hints of cinnamon, passion fruit, and mango. As promised, it had enough of its own flavour to enjoy sipping it with sweets. My guest on the other hand went for something more light. A warming “Egyptian Camomile” to soothe her stomach.

Our entire service was brought out all at once, over three trays. The savouries and transition scones on two serving plates, and all the desserts on their Ferris wheel display. The food is in the order that we decided to eat them in. They all had carnival inspired names.

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We began our tea sandwiches course with the “Punch & Judy”. An egg salad with mayonnaise, cornichon, avocado, and English cucumber. It was a light and creamy start with hints of black pepper.

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The “Midway” was pulled chicken with bourbon mustard and pickled red cabbage, over focaccia. The pickled cabbage offered a zing to balance out the zest of the mustard chicken. This was another lighter, savoury bite.

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The “Carousel” was a fun way to present the classic cream cheese and lox combination. It is like a smoke salmon roll up with fromage fraise and preserved lemon; all wound up in pumpernickel bread. This was the most enjoyable to eat as a one pop bite.

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The “Big Eli” is a miniature bagel sandwiching salted beef, radish, arugula, and mustard. The bagel was dry, a fact furthered by the longing for the mayonnaise that was lacking. Mayo that was needed to give things some moisture, to be the perfect balance to the salted meat. And the tang of some pickles would have helped pulled it all together.

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We each got one of their buttery scones and one of their raisins, served with clotted cream and jam. These never changes nor should they. They are delicious.

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And then we moved on to the revolving wheel of sweets. Each in a little bowl that hung from wire. As I mentioned, I liked the idea of the wheel, but not its incarnation here.

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We started with the “side show”, a duo of chocolate dipped, and cinnamon and sugar mini doughnuts. They were the most normal of all the carni-treats, and as expected, could not compare the fresh from the fair kind.

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“Ring Master” was a bite sized cherry pie, that didn’t lack anything a large pie would. It had a buttery flakey crust, and the powdered sugar gave it a nice textural finish.

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With the “Topsy Turvy” caramel apple you could hear the crunch of the apple biting in, surprising given the portion size. It wasn’t a tart green apple that you’d expect, but a soften Macintosh instead. The flavour of the apple was a neutral, like the soft chocolate curls, the colour of fall, that speckled it.

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The “Spectacular” lemon cupcake was a moist cake that had a refreshing quality, and a sweet icing finish.

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The “World’s Largest” cotton candy macaron didn’t taste as I expected it. It was just sweet sugar that was too much to finish.

If you are interested in more of their fun tea services they will be doing a Halloween themed tea (which I will be attending), a couple of tipsy teas where alcohol meets tea later at night; and mid November this one ends and they begin their polar express tea, for the holiday season. You need to reserve your spot, with seatings at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
With all these events, they keep me coming back for more, including the Whisky event the next day, and the Halloween tea the following week. A definite recommend, as many of these events aren’t around for long, and more still, just here for the one day. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

NOTCH8
900 West Georgia Street, Vancouver BC, V6C 2W6
604-684-3131
notch8-dining.com

Mad Hatter Afternoon Tea

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“Notch 8” continues to be one of those restaurants I keep an eye on. Now and then they host themed events worth checking out. I visited their chocolate cave during valentines, and wished I was able to attend their giant indoor BBQ meat-fest for Father’s Day. So as soon as I saw that they were hosting an Alice in Wonderland themed high tea service all summer, I immediately made plans to go.

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And my dining partner would be none other than @tinahuanghuang. The girl knew her high tea standards and would give me the perfect insight during this service. Tea times are available Wednesday to Sunday, with services at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm; until the end of August. We made plans on Thursday at 1pm, to avoid potential crowds. We essentially had the place to ourselves and were given the option to sip and chat, amongst all our erratic photo taking. The experience is definitely one to capture on camera.

I still can’t get over how majestic the restaurant is just walking up to it. Though located in the lobby of Fairmont hotel and surrounded by luxury businesses, you expect as much. The vaulted ceiling and spiked orbs of light, set to the back drop of a ceiling high bar is what really brings on the grandeur.

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But we were lead all past this to their event room of sorts. This is a separate seating area that seems to be designated as their flex space, it is where all their experiences are held. Today and all summer it was thoughtfully dressed up to represent the Mad Hatter’s afternoon tea. It was all encompassing, yet minimalistic with intricately designed table settings and shelf displays.

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The surrounding walls were installed with back light shelves, then stacked with cloth bound book, void of their dust jackets. Surrounding these piles and stack were knick knack and figurines to set the tone. Alarm clocks and pocket watches, iron keys, top hats with rabbit ears, tea pots and cups, and tiny chalkboard signs with familiar quotes. “No wonder you’re late”. “I haven’t the slightest”.

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Each table was set with the necessary cutlery and dish ware, that included a cup and saucer, and milk and sugar. Tables were set in differing gold or red cloths, similarly all chairs to a table mismatched and all tea cups to their saucers. Cloth napkins were folded like rabbit ears, and miniature shrubbery centred settings. These little potted plants were stuck with a playing card: 2015’s version of the red Queen of Hearts.

We were kindly given the option to choose our own table, and ended bouncing around to the largest corner booth. Two girls on a table meant for six. And the lone server was as accommodating with all our requests. He was patient and cheerful and even asked to help us, and everyone else, take photos when he brought the tea tower to their tables. As the only man working in a room with four tables of women, he was ever chipper and perfectly patient.

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The menu was pasted into a book and tabbed to open with a string. The meal was set, but you were given the choice of tea.

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We both had earl greys. My guest, the “fairmont earl grey” from Sri Lanka. It is a high mountain grown Ceylon tea with all natural bergamot flavouring. I went for the “Versailles lavender earl grey” from France. It contains France #1 blue lavender, and promised an intoxicating brew. Both were served in metal tea pots with the option to add more water when you ran out. Drinking about two pots worth a tea had me visiting the washroom. Sadly after the first trek out of the restaurant and into the hotel, I dissuaded from drinking much more to avoid the commute again.

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Our meal began with two bite sized hors d oeuvres, served right on to our plates. The “Warm pear and Brie tart” was a nice start with buttery crust. There was a mild tartness from the fresh fruit that left you wishing for sweet apple chunks instead. And didn’t get that gooey Brie texture that you expected from the luxurious cheese, that left you wanting a greater filling to crust ratio. It was good, but would have been better as a pie with more of everything.

We went from sweet to savory with the next bite. “Heirloom tomato on ricotta polenta”. It looked like peach and tasted like a warm tomato, as promised. It was saltier with a nice chewy base. This one I could have had a few more bites of.

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But warm ups aside, the tower was what we were here for. Three layers of savoury to sweet, you start at the bottom and work your way up. Each item was given a name reflective of the storybook. Looking at the tower, my guest was worried about portion, claiming she was hungry and eats a lot. Although, at the end, as is the case with most tea services, we were full by the time we hit the tip top dessert tray.

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The savoury layer had finger sandwiches, miniature bagels, and even a wrap segment.

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The middle layer was fresh baked scones with Devonshire cream and jam.

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And the top was the most themed to Alice in Wonderland with mushrooms on cake, cookies that look like playing cards, and ticking clock faces on chocolate panels.

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“Down the rabbit hole” was smoked salmon in a chive crepe, with a preserved lemon cream. It was a light bite and creative with the use of the crepe. I didn’t get any of the chives or lemon, but didn’t feel like I missed out. It was solid salmon and cream cheese in fluffy crepe. I was actually surprised that the filling wasn’t presented in the more obvious choice of bagel.

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Instead salted beef, radish, and arugula made it on to the mustard bagel topped with poppy seeds. This was “though the looking glass” and we each got two of these adorable miniature bagels. The dough was chewy, the meat was salty, and the greens gave it some freshness.

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“We’re all mad here” was egg, mayonnaise, English cucumber, and watercress vegetable on bread. I couldn’t taste or tell the difference between the layers of brown and yellow bread. None-the-less this was my favourite of the savouries, and the most visually appealing. It was light and airy, making it a good palette cleanser from salty red meat to flaky chicken meat.

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“Curiouser & Curiouser” was chicken confit, pickled red cabbage, and a sliced cornichons over focaccia. The look and texture of the mashed poultry was more tuna than chicken. It’s creaminess was balanced by the tang of the cabbage and pickle.

The scones were a transition from savoury to sweet with both tastes in each freshly baked round. We both got one each of the “Buttery scone” and the “ANT scone”, both served with clotted cream and berry jam. Each scone was airy in the middle, not too dense, with the right amount of salt. But it was the powdered sugar that made all the difference, and had them standing out.

But as good as these were, I do suggest saving these for last, and packing them to go if need be. They travel well can be eaten cold or even day later. Where as the desserts were more fragile and best in this presentation. However we did not follow this line of thinking and ate both scones in full, before only tasting the desserts below.

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The “Singing blueberry opera” had that extra bit of wow with the glittery gel frosting topping it; that and the geometric patterned shard of white chocolate. As for blueberries I saw and tasted none. This was simply a bite of sweet cake with a spongy texture.

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The “Time’s ticking” cassis macaron got its name from the clock face stamped onto chocolate that topped it. The panel was nice, but unnecessary as a topping, it made the already sweet dessert a little too over bearing. Otherwise it was a great macaron with a nice crispy texture hiding fluffy layers. “Cassis” is the French name given to black current.

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The “you’re late” lemon tart was my favourite. It’s citrus zing made a great palette cleanser, and the perfect light flavour to end on. Plus the mushrooms protruding from it was so cute.

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The “Mad” raspberry chocolate sable was not as buttery as I expected from a French round shortbread cookie. It also could have used more gummy jam filling to add some sweetness and character to his already dynamic looking playing card.

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The “tight” tiramisu cup was darling. This was a solid chocolate cup filled with cream, and topped with a edible sugar bug. The chocolate was a little too rich and creamy for my tastes, and it had me wishing for the sponge cake that a tiramisu is also known for.

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The “Clockwork orange ganache pop” and Daisy chocolate pop was presented together in a ceramic vase with strands of artificial grass.

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And while we are on events at “Notch 8”: while they were running this, they were also preparing for pride with this flavourful “rainbow rosé sangria” in celebration. Vodka, pineapple and apple juice, peach purée, and fresh summer fruits. It is $12 a glass, and $35 a pitcher. $2 from every glass, and $5 from every pitcher sold is donated to Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation. The Foundation, provided vital care for people living with HIV/AIDS.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
And what better a high tea experience that one themed like Alice in wonderland, everyone favourite tea party. Definitely worth checking out, but hurry, it is only available for until the end of August 2016. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

NOTCH8
900 West Georgia Street, Vancouver BC, V6C 2W6
604-684-3131
notch8-dining.com
Notch8 Restaurant & Bar - The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Patisserie Fur Elise

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This would be my guest’s first time at a proper high tea service. I wanted the event to be a memorable, a service with the whole song and dance. So I brought her here. A princess-like setting with white lace, white gloves, and the servers in a frilly and floral apron. We even came during the proper tea time, 3:30pm: after lunch, but before dinner.

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The tea salon is perfectly situated within one of the Queen Anne-style Victorian heritage houses, that has been in Vancouver since 1893. It sits amongst three others behind garden paths and picket fences, and between two towering skyscrapers. It gives you the feeling of escape. A hidden respite in the busy go-go of downtown Vancouver; to indulge in French pastry, afternoon tea, and various sweets in.

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The experience starts as soon as you open the door. The first floor is their bakery. A counter with the same treats that they offer for high tea, available for take out. This was a clean display with rows of their in house made macarons in vanilla bean, strawberry, cantaloupe, banana, blueberry, raspberry, pistachio, and mango. All set to the back drop of white shelves and glass cupboards showcasing their pink takeaway boxes.

They also had panna cotta in blueberry, jellied fruit slices, and loose leaf tea in jars with their lids wrapped in patterned cloth. Though considering the amount of counter space available, it was disappointing that they offered so little variety and nothing in baked goods or pastries.

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They attempted to make up for it and fill space with other non edible offerings, like hand crafted jewellery and macaron themed accessories. The former was curated in a cute window display. A mannequin bust dressed in one of the floral aprons, standing beside a side table set for tea. Under both a carpet of artificial grass and wild flowers. The table was an ornate display with a two tier tower, a tea pot, and side plates housing plastic cakes and macarons. Strung all over them were beaded earrings, glossy broaches, and gilded chains.

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On the shelf next to it were macaron shaped coin purses, macaron enamel pins, and macarons drawn on greeting cards. Each came in as many colours as they had their edible macarons in. These accessories also matched the macaron pillows that they had framing their chaise lounge in the foyer.

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Teatime was held upstairs. They had services at select times and saw a full seating during each one. Two hours is the maximum seating. They didn’t accept walk-ins. However you need not be turned away empty handed, with the bakery downstairs. Several of us were left waiting past 3:30pm, waiting anxiously for them to set up. They prepped to serve all tables at once and it this work took time.

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When we climbed up the stairs, we noticed how consistent they were with their frills and lace floral charm. It cascaded all throughout their dining area. Pink walls, cream striped wallpaper, curtains with tassels, and some of the most regally upholstered white chairs I have ever seen.

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Each table was already pre-set with your own individual tea pot, cup and saucer, side plate, and utensils. And between each setting stood an iron frame, waiting for plates to be placed on them. I noticed that our table was a little taller, it had us feeling like little girls all dressed up and having a tea party. We joked about drinking with our pinkies up.

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The menu is laid out for you, but you get your own choice of tea to accompany it. I went for the most interesting sounding one, the “Creme brûlée”. It was described as a “flavoured rooibos reminiscent of dessert” with notes of Carob, blackberry leaves, puffed rice, sunflower, tonka bean extract, and amaranth. It smelled like custard and browning sugar. My guest went for the “Blue earl grey”, which was a black tea flavoured with cornflower blossoms, giving it a distinct bergamot taste. She knew this would be good with milk and sugar.

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Our tea set was served on a tray along with an hour glass. Pink sand counted down a minute, signifying when our tea had been steeped and was ready. We poured it ourselves, doing so with their decorative strainer set, on a matching porcelain dish. The strainer was a metal bird that sat on the rim of your cup and caught any lose leaves that tried to slip past. My chosen brew did fine without it, but it’s function served my guest well. We said yes to the cream and sugar, when asked. It came in a set that matched our tea pots.

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As far as tea services in the city go, this is one of the more decently priced ones, $30 per person. I have been to a few that go as high as $50 for a similar assortment, if not with less and in a less ornate setting. Here you had a warm start followed by the traditional room temperature assortment of finger sandwiches and scones, followed by various small bite desserts, and ending on a chilled panna cotta.

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The “Veggie crustless quiche” was made with potato, onion, and mushroom; covered with plenty of cheese. Given the heat of its inside and the ramekin itself, you could tell it was served straight from the oven. My guest doesn’t like eggs and the texture of them baked, but she didn’t taste here and actually liked this.

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After this nibble got us feeling peckish, they left us waiting with a long gap in between it and the full tower. But when it finally came, it was photo worthy. The bottom plate was savouries and the top sweets.

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The “Cucumber avocado sandwich” was the traditional light start with the addition of cream cheese, lettuce, and pea shoots. It was a nice transition from just sipping our mild teas.

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The “Montreal smoked meat open sandwich” was seasoned with a sweet mustard. It was made with aesthetics in mind. We found ourselves spreading out the meat and rearranging the slice of cheese before we bit in. Despite its look, it was pretty bland, and the grainy texture of the bread only made it worse. The bread didn’t taste fresh and its crumbly texture went against the other smooth ingredients. It needed another condiment or more mustard.

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“Prosciutto, brie and fresh basil croissant sandwich”. The buttery croissant was the highlight of this, and fragrant basil took away from it. We wished for a more even distribution of the fillings as there wasn’t enough to fill it end to end.

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The “Scone with almond streusel” came with a side of mixed berry jam. It was the best thing on the plate, in my opinion. The scone was chewy, like a hybrid between it and a biscuit. And the sweet streusel was well paired with the mild melty jam.

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The “Caramel choux puff” was a salted caramel and vanilla bean flavoured cream puff. They were generous with the luscious filling that flowed out with one bite. I was happy to have more of it than the dry puff.

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Not sure what this one bite loaf was. The menu lists it as the “Hazelnut financier”, but we tasted no hazelnut in it. It was more like banana bread, but without the banana. Light and spongy, ideal with tea or coffee.

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The “Chestnut mousse cup” was a chocolate lover’s dream. Combining smooth cream and crunchy chocolate gave it a nice texture. I didn’t get any flavour of chestnut though.

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I wish we had the opportunity to choose our own macaron flavours. Especially given how many they had sitting in wait downstairs. I would have liked to try the not often seen cantaloupe. I wondered how it’s mild flavour would translate into something so sweet. But instead we were given a blueberry and a matcha macaron to share. Both had a strong flavour true to its name, but lacked the desired texture. It was a little dense. You didn’t get that light break as your pierced it with your teeth. It didn’t melt, but was more chewy, maybe just because it wasn’t fresh?

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The “Mini Für Elise” was a cube of gelatine-like yogurt flavoured in strawberry, sitting on a buttery biscuit square, and topped with fresh whipped cream. This was the second best dessert with its smooth pudding-like texture and the whole chunk of strawberry hidden at its core.

The best dessert with the blueberry panna cotta that they forgot to bring. Having heard our server mention it earlier and seeing others around the room enjoy it, we knew to ask for what we didn’t get. They seemed more occupied in cleaning up and preparing to close, after this service.

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The panna cotta was a nice light end. A creamy jello and pudding mix topped with the fresh blueberry jam. So good I was tempted to buy some from downstairs to take home with me.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Not necessarily my favourite place for high tea, but a great one to take a first timer with fair prices and a one of a kind setting. Don’t deny your cravings!

 

FUR ELISE
847 Hamilton Street, Vancouver BC V6B 6A1
604-684-1025
patisseriefurelise.com
Patisserie Fur Elise Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Urban Tea Merchant

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Looking for some girl time, we made high tea our activity of choice.

They have an entrance on both Georgia and Alberni street. And both lead into their merchandise store, which splinters off into the restaurant.

I feel this is one of the nicer places for high tea, given the extent of their store front selling gourmet tea and tea accessories. All their teas are from TWG tea. All 100% natural teas that do not go through any chemical processing, that only use all natural fruits and flowers.

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They also boast quality products in their selection of tea cups and matching saucers, delicate spoons, cotton tea filters, tea gift sets, tea pots, and carafes. Some were works of art priced at $700. Teapots in glass and clay, speckled spots and some in stripes, patterned pots with matching cups, and insulated metal pot holders to keep brews toasty.

If you can’t commit to a whole tin of tea or aren’t in need of a box set, you have the ability to purchase their tea loose leaf, per pound, choosing one from their wall of tins. After all, tea is best fresh and comes with an expiry date. You don’t want to purchase more than you can drink at a time.

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They also offer TWG tea infused macarons. Racked up behind the counter in flavours like “1837 black tea and blackcurrant”; “grand wedding tea with passion fruit and coconut”; “vanilla bourbon tea and kaya”, and “Napoleon tea and caramel”.

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Amongst the shop’s shelves, display cases, and side tables of merchandise were white clothed tables for patron seating. However, we were led to their salon for our service. It required a walk up a ramp lined with black and white photos. The photography captured scenery and scenes tied to the procurement of tea and the beauty of the tea culture. They were very consistent with their theme.

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The salon was a room with pink walls and more black and white tea themed photos. In a corner was a sculpture of black charcoal tea pots. They were in the act of pouring one into another. This was a shut of fountain that would have otherwise drained into a basin of stone below.

Wicker chairs, floral patterned booths, and white table cloths. Atop each table stood a tin of TWG tea as its centre piece, along with a matching TWG branded teacup and saucer at each place setting. Given the delicate nature of high tea and the classic image of cups trimmed in roses and gilded in gold; this branded cup really didn’t add anything to the setting or experience. This wasn’t the type of teacup you used with pinkies up. Overall we felt that they were a little too forceful with the tea messaging at this point, almost to the moment just before tacky.

The most difficult part of high tea is deciding on which tea service you want with what type of tea. Especially here, where they had five different service options to choose from and over 50 different types of teas to read through. (50 if I had to guess.)

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We were accidentally delivered one of the appetizers from the “Pacific Route Tea Set” and I was not shy to ask to take a photo of it before it was taken away. This was the “lobster avocado tower” with basil aioli and a chilli tobiko emulsion. Coupled with “miso and maple marinated sablefish” served in butter lettuce with micro greens. At $45 per person the “Pacific Route Tea Set” is inspired by “West Coast” flavours. Served on beautiful glass platter, it includes other OceanWise seafood like their butter poached prawn with “Orange Blossom Oolong” chutney and sweets in an apple dome infused with “Caramel Tea”. It sounded beautiful, but we wanted something more classic and less seafood forward.

Given that this was one of my guest’s first tea service we decided it should be with the “Traditional Tea Set” at $42 per person. It included tea sandwiches, scones with jelly and devon creme, and petite sweets served on a three-tiered platter.

Though I took a pause at their seasonal and limited time only featured tea service: The “Lunar New Year Tea Service” at $48 per person. It celebrated the occasion with Asian-inspired savouries and sweets, accompanied by their “Jasmine Monkey King Tea”. I would miss out today, and it is only available until February 29th.

I longed for their “Platinum Tea Service”, a pricier set that was unlisted to keep in mind market prices. This was their most luxurious afternoon tea experience. Tea-Infused Duck Breast, Fois Gras, Northern Divine Caviar, and with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. With it you can also order one of their cocktails made with tea.

For those looking for something lighter or earlier: the “Breakfast Tea Set” was available at $18 per person. Freshly baked scones or croissants with creme and jelly. Served with fresh orange or cranberry juice and a pot of her tea. Only available from 10am – 11:30am.

Similarly, they offered an “Express Lunch Feature” at $25 per person, Monday through Friday from 11am – 1pm. It’s a light afternoon high tea service that includes sandwiches, a scone with devon creme and jelly, and tea-infused sweets. As its meant to be be quick, there is a 40-minute only seating during this time.

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If you can’t commit to a full set or service, they also have tea and treats available a la carte. But half the fun of high tea is the presentation of it before you. A tower of miniature treats, delicately crafted. Like our “Traditional Tea Set” featuring a tray of savoury bites like handcrafted tea sandwiches, a layer of baked goods like fresh scones with tea-infused jelly and creme, and two trays of petite sweets. With food for three, our three tiers ran out of space and was spread across four plates. The tower was delivered with two hands and came with a point and describe run down of everything on it. As a whole, the assortment was heavy on the sweeter side, with three layers of sweeter treats.

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You begin by choosing your tea. Anything priced $8 and under is included with this set. If you decide to get a pricier tea you need to pay the difference for it. I wanted one of their blossoming teas, but would have had to add an additional $8 for this specialty pot. So instead had asked for our server’s recommendation on something unique. He rattled off a few fruit and sweet dessert combinations until I heard what I liked: the “coffee bean and coconut” tea. My guests got the “Paris breakfast” in cocoa and vanilla and the “Maharaja Darjeeling” black tea. Each arrived in its own full tea pot without any leaves. Just a fully brewed four servings per person, steeped for the perfect pot.

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Once delivered, each of our first cup of tea was poured by our very polite server. He did this in a swirling circle motion, to aerate it? Each tea was lovely, you could smell and taste the notes mentioned in its name or title. Especially the espresso-like coffee flavour of my tea, ironically. These were full bodied teas, so I enjoyed mine as is, but both my guests had theirs with milk and sugar. Coarse brown sugar and heated and frothed milk in a creamer. The latter was a nice touch to help keep your tea warm. Though the insulated metal tea pot carrier helped with keeping things warm too.

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We started with the bottom layer of savoury snacks: finger sandwiches and small bites.

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The “cucumber and aged cheddar sandwich” was a classic. Light and salty with a nice crisp.

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The “Earl grey gentlemen tea sandwich” came with sencha tea infused cream and fig jam. Both were great, but a little odd when paired with freshness of the lettuce.

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The “Tomato and piave vecchio cheese tea sandwich, with watercress aioli” reminded me of margarita pizza. Pesto, light tomato, and a sharp pang of cheese. Though the tomato made the top half of the sandwich soggy to the point of wilting.

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The “smoked salmon rosette sandwich” with “sencha wasabi aioli” was more of a canapé. A round of whole wheat toast under some salty salmon. I found it prettier than tasty.

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Similarly was the “Imperial lapsang souchong” tea flavoured “chicken basket”. Gritty mashed and peppered chicken meat stuffed in a stale and soggy waffle cup. The chicken was well seasoned and would have been better between two slices of bread, with the addition of some mayonnaise and cucumber. Though the sprig of pea shoots helped to give this two biter some freshness that it needed.

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The second layer was baked goods, a good transition from savoury to mildly sweet.

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The madeleine was a little dry. Though the “Victorian Creme and 1837 Black Tea Jelly” spreads were helpful in combating this. The cream made things a little more moist and the jam paired well with the pastry’s coconut flavour.

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The freshly baked scone was a chocolate, as seen by the melted brown pooled at its bottom. This extra coating made things a little cakey. And the texture was more like a biscuit with crispy edges. Nothing like a scone, but still great with the cream and jam.

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The top layer of our tower was a rainbow of fruit and sweets. They were equally considerate in providing us three of each fruit so that we could each have some. This was described as a “melange of fresh fruit” that included gooseberry, raspberry, blueberry; a slice of dragon fruit, a curl of melon, and cubes of watermelon and honey dew on orange slices. And to give it all a more tropical flare and the illusion of refinement, it included a freshly pruned purple orchid with sparkly velvety petals.

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This one was unlisted on the menu, but based on taste, it was a strawberry cheesecake-like butter tart. With strawberry jelly gilded in gold and dusted in crushed pistachio. And a velvety smooth custard at its centre. This was as delicious as it was pretty.

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We each got a “TWG tea macaron”, choosing one between the “Moroccan mint tea”, “Bain de roses tea”, and “earl grey fortune and chocolate”. I had the former and it wasn’t what I expected. The texture of the shell and the cream seemed to be more dense than a regular macaron. In suspect this was a result of the infusion of tea. The shell was crumbly like a cookie, sandwiching a filling full of mint flavour. The rose one was described as being sweet like fruit loops.

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“Matcha nara mousse with vanilla bourbon tea panna cotta” was amazing, this was my favourite element of the tower. It was airy and light, one of those desserts where you scrape the glass repeatedly and you lick the spoon clean. The round beads of chocolate added a nice crunch, and visual interest to the shot glass; that and the chocolate square dusted in green edible glitter. More of these chocolate pearl confetti-ed the plate with a red jelly square that border the layer.

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And as I mentioned early, as it was tea for three, we ran out of room and they needed to split the rest of our desserts on to a secondary plate.

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“White and dark chocolate dipped strawberry”. It was delicious. Creamy chocolate fully enrobing a large juicy strawberry. But despite the stereotype, this was not a sexy dessert to eat in public. With each bite, majority of the chocolate fell off in shards, you catch them in the palm of your hand, only to slurp them up into your gaping mouth after.

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The “New York breakfast tea chocolate tart” wasn’t as sweet as it looked. It took on some of the bitterness from tea to balance out the chocolate mousse, wrapped in a chocolate cookie, with various chocolate pearls on top. It was just the right amount of crunchy shell meets creamy centre, then finished with crispy topping. I just needed a tiny glass of milk to finish it off with.

The staff were very attentive. When a window table open up, we were offered the ability to move to it for a courtyard view. – We took the opportunity. Our original server introduced the young man that would be taking over for him, when his shift ended. Both checked in often to see how things were. Our original server even made an effort to ask if I liked his tea recommendation and if it was as unique as I had hoped. – I did. It was. Both stopped by often to see if we liked the food and needed anything else. Even the manger did this, making his own rounds. I found the lavished attention nice. The feeling of being waited on during such an elegant activity, with classical music playing overhead. I was just missing a salon dress, pearls and white gloves. However my guest found it a little much and a lot intrusive, especially as the manager interrupted her mid speech twice, in doing so.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This is the place to go to, to impress. They even have a Pacific Northwest themed tea service, if who you want to impress is from out of town. You don’t get the full tea salon experience, with the setting; but you do get some of the most delicious, full bodied teas and one of he most well displayed tea tower presentations. I would be interested in following up with them to see the various tea services that fluctuate with the season. Don’t deny your cravings

 

URBAN TEA MERCHANT
1070 West Georgia Street, Vancouver BC
604-692-0071
urbantea.com
The Urban Tea Merchant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Neverland Tea Salon

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Each high tea service is so different from one to another. The setting and what is served, contributes to this uniqueness of experience. So on a mission to try it all, and deem on best, I found myself here for afternoon tea with a girlfriend.

An all charcoal black paint job with matching black patio tables and black chairs out front. It wasn’t very telling from looks alone. Lace dollies and pastel tones were well hidden.

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The restautant’s whimsical name delivered on its promise for fantasy and fun. There was just so much to see. Most of it what you’d imagine a faerie or sprite would approve of. It made it all the more accurate to its name. Antique furniture refurbished became showcases for things they sold: bags of teas, diffusers, pots of honey, and delicate cups to hold your pinkies up with. Everything you needed to host your own regal tea party at home.

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Their namesake was referenced literally in a quote, as well, it made an appearance as a decal on the ceiling’s trim. A shadow of Peter leading Wendy on her adventure of a life time. And the thought “Would you like an adventure now, it would you like to have your tea first?”

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Several crystal chandeliers adorned the ceiling, they dangled and shone while reflecting tiny rainbow against the hard wood floor under foot. Amongst them were charms hanging from repurposed branches. Painted tea cups trimmed in gold, strung up amongst angels and doves hung with literal bells on. Very whimsical.

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Their work counter was towards the back, behind it was an impressive display of their own branded teas, sealed in tins. Row on row, all evenly spaced, all within the same colour palate. Framing it were various pots and cups also display. Each with delicate handles and tipped spouts. On the actual counter were covered cake trays offering loafs and biscuits ready to travel.

The seating was very cleverly set up, with the little space left maximized. A new mother enjoyed herself on their recliner by the window. Her ability to lean, allowed her baby to rest on her belly. Larger groups shared family style tables sat with various mismatching chairs. Their charm was in the fact that it mimicked the seating of any large family gathering at someone’s home. You pull all the chairs and any of the plates out of storage. Design is not issue, it is about the food and the people surrounding you.

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We got a chemise couch with our own small size table each. It offered us the ability to dine side by side and talk like only how two girls catching up in a tea salon can. I find it more comfortable to talk with someone from the side.

“Neverland” also boasts an impressive bar for ladies looking to add a little kick to their tea. Not only wines, but some pretty impressive hard liquors too. And to keep with the girly theme there were plenty of pink libations to go around. They even have happy hour where it’s a free upgrade to bubbly high tea. We went ahead and indulged in this. This is the first time I have seen alcoholic beverages offered at any tea service.

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“Paragon”. Pink lemonade fruit tea, lemon vodka, galliano. “Royal Albert”. Bumble berry fruit tea, floral vodka, and pink grapefruit liquor. Given the summer’s heat this was more refreshing as a chilled cocktail than a hot tea. Though we would still have steeped tea, but with the option to have it chilled with ice cubes and served with plastic straws.

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The high tea service meal is set. Served on a three tiered tray, it is levels of savoury to sweet. We used the listing to decide what to eat first, starting with the various finger sandwiches and working our way through dessert. The server was great at pointing out each item by name and providing commentary when necessary. I found the entire assortment as a whole, a twist on the regular. An additional pinch of spice, a new complimentary ingredient, and each classic is born again.

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Starting with the “Lemon herbed cream cheese, cucumber, and arugula on whole wheat”. Not just your regular cucumber sandwich. Now renewed with the equally fresh flavours of zesty lemon and peppery arugula. It was definitely the refreshing light start we expected.

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The “Chicken salad with tarragon, salt roasted pears, walnuts, and globe grapes” was like enjoying a fancy chicken salad between bread. Creamy from the mayo, spicy from the seasonings, sweet from the fruit; and the walnuts were just a nice addition for crunch.

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The “Curried egg salad with shaved cucumber and cilantro” was a grown up version of an egg salad sandwich. Slightly dry, very fragrant, and surprisingly light.

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“Warm fig chutney and ripe Brie on a mini croissant”. Who doesn’t like salty Brie paired with a sweet jelly? This reminded me of a grown up cheese and jam sandwich.

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“Caprese on focaccia with arugula pesto, Pune nuts, and Asiago. Classic Italian flavours from bold ingredients, you can’t lose. The tomatoes looked so vibrant, like they beckoned you from the plate.

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We then finished our sparkling teas, and switched over to our regular tea, served chilled in glasses. Shame the heat prevented us from enjoying the full high tea experience: a slow steeped hot tea. Effervescent teas served in dainty, floral cups. Sadly we did not take advantage of their “never-ending” tea refills”

“Berry me in champagne” lured me in with its name. A delicate Pai Mu Tan white tea, described as “being accentuated with the luxurious aroma of champagne”. I could only taste the lingering sweet raspberry scent the menu described. It was a little much for the same menu listing to say it will “leave you feeling elegant and pampered”. It was good, but not that good. It tasted like lightly flavoured water.
And here again they were very flowery in their description. “Peaches and dreams”. A sweet light tea makes a very fruity beverage. A blend of eight green and white teas that are “lively and smooth”. “Bursting with tropical fruit flavour”, it was more like watered down grape juice. Though decently flavourful for tea.

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Traditional scones served with strawberry jam and Devonshire cream.

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“Lemon curd and blackberry marshmallow on a thyme shortbread crust”. This was my favourite of all the desserts. I am partial to lemon bars. The top layer was light and fluffy, like a rolled out jelly and marshmallow mix. Its flavour, a cherry lemonade.

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“Mango passion fruit cheesecake with macaroon base”. It was tropical. The top two layers were whipped smooth, so I found the gritty crust a distraction. The dried coconut shreds got stuck in my teeth. I didn’t like this much purely for its texture.

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“Creme brûlée tart with rhubarb and fresh strawberries”. The rhubarb made the dessert a little sour. An easy remedy if we have the caramelized burnt sugar indicative of a creme brûlée.

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“Chai mousse layered with chocolate sponge.” Rich robes of chocolate, perfect for those who love chocolate and love it a lot. A like your spoon clean sort of dessert.

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When it was time to pay the bill, it was presented in a silver milk pourer along with a baggy of their own loose leaf tea. “Pink lemonade”, tisane. What a nice touch, and a nice way to later reflect fondly back to your meal.

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Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Hands down, my new favourite place for high tea. The decor is whimsical and fun, a sweet place to feel childlike in. Though the food alone is reason to go. Compared to other tea services they are more playful with their flavours. They take traditional high tea pastries and finger sandwiches, and give it a meaningful twist. It gives you a reason to come back to them, no one else does what they do. Cucumber sandwiches with a lemon and herd cream cheese, an egg salad sandwich with curry powder, and a chicken salad sandwich with sweet fruits. And the desserts were the merger of two stand alone treats, made more successful together. Creme brûlée with strawberry rhubarb pie, cheesecake with macaroons, and a marshmallow meets shortbread combination. Definitely a cut above. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

NEVERLAND
3066 West Broadway, Vancouver BC
604-428-3066
neverlandtea.com
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