I started off my week with a marvelous belated birthday treat! Afternoon tea with one of my best girls at one of my favourite buildings in the city, the Windsor Arms Hotel.
The hotel is beautiful. It dates back to 1927, when it was first built. However, it was rebuilt in the late 90’s, keeping some of the old features and incorporating a 1920’s French style, along with some modern touches. Something about the building makes me happy. Its high ceilings in the main lobby and courtyard, dark mahogany hallways, and the warm textures of drapes, rugs, and other decor relaxes me. I love the bookshelves in the walls of the elevator. It’s a fun building to explore. There’s an old-world tranquility to the hotel, with a modern feel.
It was my first afternoon tea experience, and hers too. We didn’t really know what to expect. The french-styled lobby tea room was clean, bright, had mirrored walls and small tables, was full of pretty tea cups, and had a collection of ornate hats on a stand in one corner. (You can give a $5 donation to wear a fancy hat. Proceeds go to the Look Good Feel Good program.) After being seated at a cute little table, we sat staring at our menus for a while, enjoying the new environment and analyzing all the objects on our table. I was part in awe, like a little girl in a life-sized dollhouse ready to serve tea to her dollies, and part confused and slightly embarrassed because I didn’t know where to begin.
Our waiter explained to us that we didn’t have to worry about food, our “most important decision was to choose our tea”. There was a wide selection of loose leaf teas to choose from (http://www.windsorarmshotel.com/tearoom/our_teas). It was so hard to decide. White? Black? Chai? Fruit blends? I am the worst decision maker. I finally decided on the Earl Grey with Blue Flowers, with organic lavender flowers. She opted for the Chai Arms, a blend of cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger, pepper, and organic black tea. I was so happy with my decision. It was delightful. I love the scent of lavender, and when my pot arrived I was instantly engulfed in the wonderful aroma. I decided not to add cream or sugar to my tea, it was so good on it’s own. We sat chatting and sipping, and of course happily taking pictures (how could we resist?).
Next, our tower of scones, sandwiches, quiche, and sweets arrived.
We started with the goat cheese and caramelized shallot quiche tart which was pretty tasty. We also had a selection of raisin and plain scones. They were warm, fluffy, dusted with powdered sugar, and served with housemade jams and Devonshire cream. Yum.
Our selection of pinwheel sandwiches included smoked salmon and wasabi sour cream with salmon caviar, cucumber with sundried tomato paste and dill cream cheese, and grilled chicken, granny smith apple citrus mayonnaise with Greek yogurt and chives.
By this time we were stuffed with scones, sammies, and tea. There was still cake to eat. We had a selection of pretty little petits fours including chocolate cakes, a white chocolate cake, and a raspberry cheesecake.
We finished off with a sparkling raspberry sorbet, which was quite sweet, but I love sorbet (or anything frozen and yummy) so I enjoyed it.
I was quite happy with the Tea Room at the Windsor Arms, although it was my first time having afternoon tea so I don’t have much to compare it to. I thought the scones were delicious, possibly the best I’ve ever had, however the sandwiches and tarts didn’t seem as fresh as they could have been. I sort of got the sense that everything had been prepared ahead of time and pre-plated. I’ve actually read quite a few bad reviews about the food at the Windsor Arms Hotel. The hotel has a long standing reputation as a luxurious destination for tea, Sunday brunch, or a hotel stay (the rooms are gorgeous!). It’s so upsetting to me that the current staff don’t seem to want to keep this tradition alive! For the price you pay, and the posh surroundings, I would definitely expect the food to be equally spectacular. The tea was wonderful and I loved the elegant, traditional atmosphere. It’s a lovely way to spend the afternoon, maybe catch up with an old friend, chit chat over hot tea and a light meal. (I say light meal, but I was surprisingly full when I left.)
I loved my first tea party. Can’t wait to do it again! 🙂
Check out the Tea Room website for menus, hours, and more details if you’re interested: http://www.windsorarmshotel.com/tearoom