VieAMaggi.com

Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Category: high tea

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

img_5997img_6005

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.

img_6010img_6011img_6013

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.

img_6003img_6008

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.

img_6009img_6025

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.

img_6012img_6021img_6027

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.

img_6059img_6028

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.

img_6063img_6064

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.

img_6066img_6067

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.

img_6068img_6070

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.

img_6071img_6072

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.

img_6041img_6045

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.

img_6061img_6046

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.

img_6074img_6077

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.

img_6080img_6082

“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.

img_6084img_6085

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.

img_6078img_6089

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

img_6073img_6090

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

IMG_7916IMG_7917

“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.

IMG_7951

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.

IMG_7920IMG_7924

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.

IMG_7925IMG_7921

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”.

IMG_7931IMG_7926

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.

IMG_7932IMG_7933

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.

IMG_7992IMG_7996

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.

IMG_7952IMG_7954

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.

IMG_7974IMG_7977

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.

IMG_7985IMG_7988

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

IMG_7990IMG_7991

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

IMG_7984IMG_7982

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.

IMG_7999IMG_8001

“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.

IMG_7997IMG_7998

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.

IMG_8005IMG_8007

“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.

IMG_8003IMG_8004

“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.

IMG_8015IMG_8016

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.

IMG_8024IMG_8023

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.

IMG_8013IMG_8014

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.

IMG_8020IMG_8022

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.

IMG_8017IMG_8018

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.

IMG_8058IMG_8060

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

IMG_7948IMG_7942

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

IMG_0472IMG_0388

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.

IMG_0389IMG_0395

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.

IMG_0405IMG_0391

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.

IMG_0398IMG_0479

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.

IMG_0399IMG_0478

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.

IMG_0407IMG_0410

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.

IMG_0432IMG_0411

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.

IMG_0419IMG_0418

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.

IMG_0414IMG_0415

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.

IMG_0423IMG_0425

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.

IMG_0437IMG_0440IMG_0441

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.

IMG_0430IMG_0435

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.

IMG_0443IMG_0445

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.

IMG_0446IMG_0447

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.

IMG_0448IMG_0450

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.

IMG_0451IMG_0452

“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.

IMG_0454IMG_0456

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.

IMG_0457

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.

IMG_0459IMG_0461

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.

IMG_0462IMG_0465

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.

IMG_0467IMG_0466

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?

IMG_0468IMG_0470

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.

IMG_0474IMG_0475

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

IMG_5769IMG_5770

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.

IMG_5845IMG_5846

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.

IMG_5771IMG_5847

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”.

IMG_5772IMG_5779

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.

IMG_5780IMG_5784

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.)

IMG_5782IMG_5783

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.

IMG_5801IMG_5802IMG_5814

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.

IMG_5786IMG_5840

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.

IMG_5791

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.

IMG_5808IMG_5813

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

IMG_5817

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

IMG_5815

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.

IMG_5818

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.

IMG_5819

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.

IMG_5821

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.

IMG_5812IMG_5807

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

IMG_5824IMG_5826

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.

IMG_5825

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.

IMG_5810IMG_5806

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.

IMG_5836IMG_5839

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.

IMG_5843IMG_5844

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.

IMG_5828IMG_5831

“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.

IMG_5809

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.

IMG_5841IMG_5842

“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.

IMG_5833IMG_5834

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

IMG_0169IMG_0172

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.

IMG_0171IMG_0175IMG_0174

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.

IMG_0178

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?”

IMG_0214IMG_0173

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.

IMG_0177IMG_0176

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.

IMG_0179

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.

IMG_0192IMG_0191

“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.

IMG_0193IMG_0200

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.

IMG_0204IMG_0205

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.

IMG_0207IMG_0208

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.

IMG_0209IMG_0210

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.

IMG_0211IMG_0212

“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.

IMG_0217IMG_0218

“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.

IMG_0224IMG_0223

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.

IMG_0195IMG_0220

Traditional scones served with strawberry jam and Devonshire cream.

IMG_0221IMG_0222

“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.

IMG_0225IMG_0227

“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.

IMG_0228IMG_0230

“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.

IMG_0232IMG_0233

“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.

IMG_0235IMG_0234

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.

IMG_0196IMG_0198

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
Click to add a blog post for Neverland Tea Salon on Zomato

La Petite Cuillère

IMG_7266IMG_7277

I couldn’t remember a previous visit, it wasn’t until I started driving there did the memories of this little tea shop come back to me. My first visit was just for a cup of tea. This time around I would be able to enjoy the full high tea experience.

IMG_7272IMG_7281

Everything was as I remembered it. The turquoise green walls paired with pale yellow drapes. The dried floral arrangements and the faded embroidered linens. The whole of it still aged, the theme still of antiques. I reflected back on my original assessment, the room resembled that of a great aunt’s attic, lost in time.

IMG_7284IMG_7278

We settled into a table with a view of their teas by the tin and the showcase of all their in house made sweets. The latter was available for purchase separately, but today we were here for the tea, at a preset menu. Three available versions varying by quantity and price. We went for the “The Afternoon Tea” service for $25, the most costly of the three, that promised us the most. Though even then, this price point is a lot less asked for than at other similar tea places. It was described as a full service of three miniature sweets, three finger sandwiches, two miniature scones, mini loafs, tea biscuit, fruit preserves and Devonshire cream. Served on a traditional three tier stand with our choice of tea from their premium loose leaf tea selection. They also offer a smaller serving for $12.75, a high tea for $14.25 with snack size servings, and one featuring cheese and fruit for $13.75.

IMG_7291IMG_7290

My guest choose a “Vanilla Rooibos”. Described as being delicately sweet and nutty, almost woody. An herbal infusion suggested for a wonderful evening cup when you want to warm the body and soothe the throat, but without a jolt of caffeine. I went off the menu and agreed to our server’s recommendation of their seasonal tea. A great suggestion when looking for something sweet and unique. It was one they called their “holiday strudel” because it smelled like baking. And it did. It is only available during the holidays and now, in the time before Spring. It was a black tea with some green blended in for body. Flavoured with apple, apricot, and cinnamon notes. A tea you could enjoy as is or with milk. I had mine with milk and sugar.

IMG_7293IMG_7295

We had a tower each. Three levels arranged by savoury to sweet.

IMG_7302IMG_7303

Peppered salami and smoked cedar on a baguette with cucumber. It tasted like its ingredients, a clean and simple start.

IMG_7304IMG_7305

Vegetable roll. This too was nothing special, it seemed more like a cost saving item. Lettuce, cucumber, and onion in a roasted pepper wrap.

IMG_7307IMG_7308

The tuna tart was a tuna salad mix, piped into a pre-made dessert crust. The filling tasted odd, a taste made more sour when compared to the buttery tart. Cold and creamy with the celery, it was only just tolerable.

IMG_7313IMG_7314

Earl grey shortbread cookie. Usually shortbread cookies are known for being rich, soft, and crumbly; but with the tea leaves embedded in each square inch, it gave things a gritty texture, like sandpaper. And the presence of the tea actually made them bitter. This was the item I enjoyed the least.

IMG_7315IMG_7316

The chocolate croissant was dense and chewy from the large amount of chocolate paste stuffed in the middle. Good, though I prefer my chocolate croissants to be light and airy.

IMG_7311IMG_7310

Two apricot raisin scones. This one was great dense. Very flavourful with large pieces of dried fruit in each bite.

IMG_7320IMG_7321

The lemon bar was a refreshing mix of sweet and tart with a nice cookie-like texture. Zesty.

IMG_7317IMG_7318

The coconut cake was vanilla icing and shredded coconut over fluffy white cake. I found it too sweet and better without the cream. Whereas my guest loved the cream the most.

IMG_7322IMG_7324

The raspberry macaron with chocolate filling had the ideal light and crisp texture, however I found the combination just too sweet.

Our server was a delight. He was so
upbeat and friendly. He gave many thanks and said all his welcomes. Always with a large smile on face. We felt very welcome and very well served by him. Truly the highlight of the meal.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I found the setting homey and that the food looked lovely, but overall there was nothing that stood out for us. Everything was average and not without its flaws. Though as the most inexpensive tea service I have ever seen, it is worth a trip back to explore a different service. Don’t deny your cravings.

LA PETITE CUILLERE
55 Kingsway, Vancouver BC, V5T1R9
604-298-0088
lapetitecuillere.ca
La Petite Cuillère on Urbanspoon

The Roof at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

IMG_9566IMG_9567

With a name like that you would expect to be seated outdoors, high above the city with a view of the buildings and the traffic down below. We were sorely mistaken, but were at least on the highest floor of the Hotel Fairmont Vancouver, the 23rd. It was a lengthy ride up the elevator, its doors gilded in gold and etched with mythical creatures. A tight space and a rickety ride that spoke of its age and the times it had lived through.

IMG_9641IMG_9572

“The Roof” is now open in response to the on going renovations of the hotel lobby down below. The space would only be available for seating temporarily and we wanted to capitalize. At over 125 years old its age shows, the furniture is dated and the space feels stagnant. This compared to the other neighbouring hotel restaurants I have been visiting as of late. I respected the history, but expected more luxury given the prestigious boutiques that also called this hotel home.

IMG_9643IMG_9569

The makeshift restaurant was surprisingly well set in beige on tan. A room large enough to seat a banquet, with carpet speckled in circles, chairs upholstered in florals, and tables cloaked in white. A gloss wood cabinet held vintage tea kettles and gilded gold frames sported abstract art. A waist high wall split the dining room from the elevated bar/lounge area. It separated the grand piano from the flat screen television. This wasn’t the most formal of settings, but well kept given its age.

IMG_9581IMG_9589

Each table was set with the restaurant’s own fine bone China. Each piece stamped at the bottom with their hotel’s name, “Fairmont Hotel Empress”. White plates, tea cups, and saucers patterned with red and blue trim centring a gold crown. And you know a place is fancy when they have their own china and fold their reusable napkins. Napkins shaped like towers of decoration, then laid upon your lap when it was time to eat.

IMG_9633IMG_9571

When visiting for lunch it was a set menu for their “traditional afternoon tea”. You were required to make a reservation, a chance for them to prepare your food ahead of time. Though our server did inquire about our dietary restrictions after we were seated. The list of one bites and small snacks offered little description and we were not told about any of the variations from it. It was $49 per person and included an individual tea pot, finger sandwiches, savouries, scones, pastries, and sweets. All this was more food than offered at other tea services, and what was given certainly matched its assigned price point. For those dining with the family, children under 12 years of age are eligible for their bubblegum tea for $19. It includes bubble gum flavoured non caffeinated tea, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ham and cheese, chocolate chip cookies, and jello.

You are able to choose what type of tea you had. A selection made between black, white, green, and herbal teas. And for those wanting a little sparkle enjoy some champagne or sparking wine at an additional cost.

IMG_9588IMG_9586

My guest had the “Rose buds and petals” from Italy. It had light floral notes and a lingering finish. Described as the perfect tea to sip on in the afternoon. She found it very light with just the soaking of plucked petals in water. You tasted it more through its smell.

I was recommend the “1906 centennial blend” from India. It is one of their more popular teas. As a limited edition commemorative brew I was drawn in. This was described as a blend of delightful kenmare, rich imperial keemun, a touch of malty Assam from borengajuli estate, fulled bodied Assam from keyhung, a South Indian tea from nonesuch estate, plus a dash of earl grey. It certainly was as the menu described, “a taste of history” with so much going in to it. A darker and heavier tea, it steeped strong and got bitter quick. Best enjoyed when taken with milk and the coarse sugar provided. Both of our hot silver tea pots were refilled often and without us asking for it. The handles were covered in cloth for easier pouring and offered a shield from the heated metal, the top knob on the lid could have used the same.

IMG_9585IMG_9584

Our meal started off with a “Yogurt panna cotta with macerated fruits”. The panna cotta was dense from the used of yogurt. Its cheesy taste and pasty texture reminded me of cheese cake. Not what I imagine when I think of a usually light and airy panna cotta, but delicious none the less. The berries were soaked in fruit juice, making them too sweet, and overpowering of the more milder panna cotta.

Our savouries were served next, two bites each delivered with tongs directly onto our plate. Its unexpected serving had us asking if we would be getting the rest presented on the traditional high tea tower like those around us did. Yes. There is just something so nice about seeing three plates of so many different types foods before you, just there one on top of another.

IMG_9590IMG_9591

The “Cream asparagus tartlet” was best taken in one bite. The cream in the centre was runny, a tilt too far had it dripping over my fingers and onto the table cloth. The cream had a strong asparagus taste, but was out shadowed by the surrounding pastry. Not necessarily a bad thing as it was flaky and full of buttery goodness.

IMG_9592IMG_9594

The “Chicken and apple sausage roll” was a grown up and elevated sausage roll. The type you buy frozen at your local grocery store, but this was fresher and you could taste the quality in the ingredients used. The apple balanced the salty with a little sweet. And the pastry was just as flaky and buttery as the tart above. Though it could have been served warmer.

IMG_9595IMG_9596

We had our tower delivered with a layer of scones, one of finger sandwiches, and the last of desserts and pastries.

 

IMG_9597IMG_9601

We followed the flow of the tower, starting with the scones first as they were still warm, and scones are the best warm. Served with house made fruit preservers and Devonshire clotted cream. They were oddly shaped, like they spilled out from the pan and no one bothered to make another more attractive batch. The menu stated that one would be a raisin, but it came plain. Not that it mattered, the dough was well made and when partnered with the cream or preserve, there was more than enough flavour to go around.

IMG_9606IMG_9608

Both scones were fluffy and soft. The orange and apricot smelled like its namesake citrus with its colour to match. The middle was scattered with large chunks of chewy candied apricot. And the top dusted with powered orange sugar. Each round was so soft that it crumbled within your grasp. The cream however could have been more flavourful, we found it bland, but its generosity slightly made up for that.

IMG_9598IMG_9602

The finger sandwiches were beautifully crafted, but not as tasty. We found them unique, but they were always a little off in flavour.

IMG_9609IMG_9610

Having had many high teas we both knew to start with the lightest sandwich, the “English cucumber with upland pepper cress on buttermilk loaf”. It was light and refreshing with the raw vegetables. The tomato provided some sweetness to the bright cucumber. And the creamed cheese hadjust enough salt to tie in all together as the binder. My guest could have sworn she tasted truffle in the cream.

IMG_9611IMG_9613

“Maple glazed ham and Gouda, dijonnaise on cracked wheat bread”. This was made very salty from the four layers of folded ham between green bread. The gherkin garnish was overkill, too much sour and too much salty. The bread was given its colour more for visual novelty then flavour.

IMG_9614IMG_9615

I found the “Cold smoked wild salmon, organic egg salad, rushing rye, and caviar” a weird flavour combination. The mix of the salmon and the mustard that coated the egg salad clashed. Together they were soggy from the moist eggs and soft from the juicy salmon. They would of been better off separating the egg salad and salmon, like having the creamy egg mixture on the dry bun below instead.

IMG_9619IMG_9620

I enjoyed the cutesy presentation of the “Curried free range chicken, branston pickle, and caraway”. We saved this for last because of the strength in the spiced curry. The green of the pea shoots were a nice touch, it gave freshness and offered some crunch. There was more chewy bun then peppery filling. But what little chicken present was well seasoned. Overall dry, the bite needed a sauce for dipping. And the fragrant chicken was better suited in the middle of a tart or surrounded by pastry dough.

IMG_9599IMG_9603

The sweets and pastries were prettier than they were delicious. Like the sandwiches we worked our way from the most mild to the most flavourful desserts.

IMG_9621IMG_9622

“Fruit tartlet”, fresh raspberries in a crusted box. The gold flake sprinkles were the perfect decadent touch, it elevated a common grocery store tart to a treat worthy of a luxurious high tea. Under the red berries was a layer of luscious whipped vanilla bean cream. The sweetness from this and the tartness from the berries gave it the perfect tang.

IMG_9625IMG_9626

The “Lemon curd and charred meringue” was my favourite one biter. A mix of sour and sweet over a soft buttery pastry. It was like a miniature lemon meringue pie.

IMG_9639IMG_9638

From the appearance of the “Chocolate vienetta”, I expected it harder like a nanaimo bar. Instead it easily folded under the weight of my fork. Light and fluffy like chocolate mousse, crafted to a perfect block, set over a crumbled cookie crust. It was nice that it wasn’t too sweet, but overall this wasn’t anything special. One of the things I did not finish.

IMG_9631IMG_9632

Two different macarons, which our server called “macaroons”, something my guest was quick to point out. The brown was chocolate and the faded maroon, black current. The flavours weren’t strong, it was the distinctive butter cream that overwhelmed and made things overly sweet.

IMG_9634IMG_9635

We were given two “Signature tea truffles”, one came with a waxy liner, the other without. The earl grey flavouring was bitter like over steeped tea. And the actual tea leaves were an unwanted surprise in an otherwise soft chocolate. Though things improved at the end, the after taste was more floral and the mouthful ended sweeter.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This was a lovely afternoon tea. The setting was tranquil, lofty above the heart of downtown, surrounded by so much heritage and so much more history. The teas were fragrant, hand picked and delicately crafted bouquets for the finest of brews. Our small bites, a visual feast of fresh ingredients and unique pairings. And the staff friendly, an attentive service run by passionate older women. Kind women who spoke gently, fine women who you could see enjoying this mid day treat themselves. However fine as things were, this did not make it into my top three favourite high tea sessions. When we made our reservations we expected tea in a setting that was classier, a setting more vintage, a setting more regal; something luxurious and deserving of the Fairmont Vancouver. Yes we got history, but we wanted more than a warp back to the 80’s on decor. Don’t deny your cravings.

THE ROOF
900 West Georgia Street, Vancouver BC, V6C2W6
604-684-3131
fairmont.com/hotel-vancouver/dining/the-roof
The Roof on Urbanspoon
Roof Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén