Reuniting with a high school friend brought us to “La Petite Cuillere”. She had passed by this Victorian style Teahouse several times and on each occasion wondered why she had never come in. Today there would be no reason not to. I never knew this place existed. I would walk down Kingsway and Broadway and each time, as soon as I hit “French Made Bakery” (http://vieamaggi.com/?p=30) I would stop. Today I longingly peered in, but continued down two past two stores, only to be more delighted over what I saw.
I appreciate walking into a place and immediately being immersed into their world, via a solid and cohesive theme. At “La Petite Cuillere” this was the living room of your grandma’s house. A place where she kept her teacup collection and dusty figurines. All around the room was a ledge with the ability for further storage. On it were porcelain dolls in frilly dresses, wooden jewelry boxes, brass and silver teapots and trays, and a hodge podge of items that were to be looked at and not touch. The extent of their teacup collection was clearly seen the further from the threshold, the more you moved in. Closed wooden cabinets and high reaching shelves where lined row and row with cup and saucer. Each was embellished with flowers and detailed with swirls. They had so many, that a few were wrapped in cellophane and available for purchasing. Heck, there were even teacups on display in the one stall washroom as well. They were used for decorations, and containers for plants and candles. And of course they had teas, loose and ready for packing and purchasing. They were displayed in all the same silver canisters, lined up and label for identification. It was all over the top in flora. Tables were laid out with flowery cloths, petaled cups, saucers, and plates with the appropriate cutlery. And the paper towels in the washroom to dry your hands on were patterned with green leaves and red flowers. Back at our table I liked the sugar cubes which were easy to grab with tiny tongs. You don’t get sugar cubes at most coffee shops, and the experience just feels so homey with them.
Naturally we had to have a pot of tea each. The menu was page after page of exotic blends, arranged by colour and type. Premium loose leaf blacks, non caffeinated herbals, and even tea alternatives (coffee). Each pot came cozy with a cover, to keep it hotter for longer. One thing I did wish for was a cohesiveness in print for the table. It is just a little more fancier and a little more special when the whole set matches: creamer, sugar jar, side plates and all.
I am not a big tea drinker, so don’t have an opinion on what is good or what I feel like. I asked and took the suggestion of the lone girl running the Teahouse. Her favourite was the “Coconut Rooibos Chai”. A Best Seller that is naturally caffeine free. This tea is made from rooibos, a South African plant. It is high in anti oxidants and flavour, thanks to the warmth of Saigon cinnamon, ginger, clove, and chilli. Which is all sweetened with coconuts. As the menu promised, it was a complex and charming drink, that did brighten my day. Just letting the scent of this tea wafting spikes a craving for sugar, say a sweet and buttery cake? As compared to other blends this one was rich and sweet, with a syrupy note that coats your mouth.
My guest had the “Mango Green tea”. This too was a “Best Seller”, according to the printed menu. Each satchel was filled with a wonderful blend of pan fire greens blended with mangoes. It is this quality that gives this tea its fresh and sweeter taste. However with deep conversation, we made the mistake of not pulling the tea bag out sooner. As a result this caffeine free beverage became bitter. Our intuitive sever sensed the familiar scenario and immediately refilled our pots to perfection. Its aroma was refreshing, with the mango tasting not the least bit artificial. As promised this tea got our awareness level Up.
For the hungrier few they had a brunch menu to choose from: sandwiches, oatmeal, fruit, paninis, soups. and salads. But if you didn’t want anything from all day brunch or to take part in the traditional English tea service; it was self serve. You looked and pointed at the refrigerated show case or the glass covered containers on the counter top. There were a variety of options: lemon custard tarts, cream puffs, scones filled with cream, slices of cake in carrot and chocolate, and cupcakes with spirals of cream in earl grey and lemon gluten free.
I was extremely jealous to watch the girl deliver the three, three tiered towers of plates to the table beside ours. They ordered the “High Tea” and with it came a selection of miniature sweets, finger sandwiches, a mini scone, and fruit preservers. It looked as lovely as I am sure it tasted. Essentially this service was a melding of brunch savouries and the self serve sweets, assembled on a three tiered serving tray. A snack to enjoy between the gap of lunch and dinner.
I am a sucker of macarons so had to have and try one of each. Our host was kind enough to repeat their names and flavours to me so I could take notes. Passion fruit, Black sesame, Raspberry, Earl grey tea, Darling Darjeeling tea, Lemon, and Chocolate. I like their aesthetic beauty, their popularity, and the novelty found in trying all the flavours. Each initial bite was a crisp break, a soft texture with a smooth cream, in complimentary flavours. This may not be a great pairing with my unsweetened tea, as the sweetness of the macarons would have removed any of the fruity sugars from our teas. The chocolate tasted like cake. The lemon like a lemon loaf. The teas exactly as promised and true to their profiles. The raspberry was centred with a Nutella cream. The black sesame had a roasted earthy quality, which was not overly sweet. The passionfruit was a burst of sweet tang, a combination earned from the shell and the gel like centres. And yes they are in the order of how I devoured each one.
Would I come back? – Yes. There is something so novel about enjoying a refined sip, with classical music over head, in a delicate surrounding. And something much more novel when the topic of discussion by the two women enjoying above setting is titillatious in topic. In our case it was sex, lies, and love, all in the company of my guest’s paintball rifle. A bit of an oxymoron in there somewhere.
I enjoyed the setting, and would have loved to have had the time to enjoy more of the teas and desserts offered.
Would I recommend it? – Yes. Female Vancouverites love their tea houses and love their macarons. I see this as a still to be discovered hotspot. The other popular tea places are always full and tend to be on the out skirts of town. I feel “La Petite Cuillere” is in a convenient location, although parking is a challenge. A hidden gem and a great try for all those who have experienced all the rest. And I am sure none of the others get you feeling like you are eating and drinking in your grandma’s living room. You are now in that room you were never allowed to play in; using china that was only to be reserved for very special occasions or if the queen visited. Don’t deny your cravings.