Showing posts with label Afternoon tea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Afternoon tea. Show all posts

The Old Mill House for afternoon tea (Toronto)


There aren’t many ventures that have been around for over a century. The Old Mill is part of this cohort and since it’s opening in 1914 has been a staple institution in Etobicoke. Located right on the subway line, it’s convenient to get to but far enough from Toronto’s downtown core to feel like you’ve stepped away for a moment.

Since its beginnings, they’ve also offered afternoon tea. Truthfully, having visited about eight years ago when scouting it as a potential bridal shower location, their tea service was underwhelming. In 2019, they finally revamped the menu and now offer a daily tea service for $39 a person, an increase from the past but still more affordable than some of other options in the city.


Their menu starts with a selection of Sloane teas where samples are presented at the table so guests can smell and see the leaves. The Darjeeling 2nd flush sounded mighty, the menu touting it as the “champagne of tea”. Yet, despite the darker hue, it tasted too mellow for me. I crave something that has more of a floral finish.


Their sandwiches aren’t necessarily dainty but leaves you really full. Without a doubt, the smoked chicken and apple salad was the tastiest of the bunch - a huge flavourful mound of the chunky salad sitting on a fresh mini brioche bun.


On the other hand, the bagel used on the cucumber sandwich and pumpernickel for the salmon gravlax were both cold and dry. While I appreciate restaurants trying something new and different, sometimes things should also follow tradition. Something like a cucumber sandwich, which is meant to be light and delicate, a hard crumbly bagel is the last thing we needed.

I’m still waiting for the day when restaurants will provide a sweet or savoury afternoon tea option. In a heartbeat, I’d trade in the sweet plates for more sandwiches or scones. The best part of the plate was probably the large sweet and juicy strawberry dipped in dark chocolate.


As for everything else: the chocolate cupcake with Belgian chocolate mousse looked moist but my teeth ached looking at it so I abstained; the lemon meringue tartlet was a favourite amongst the table; and the gold leaf garnished French macarons arrive with different flavours so you can swap amongst the table.

The most important part of afternoon tea – for me and most people – are the scones. These were scrumptious! Guests receive savoury (cheddar and chive) and sweet (cranberry) scones. Both were warm and breaks apart easily to reveal a fluffy soft centre while the crust was slightly crispy and baked until golden.


If only they weren’t so stingy with the Devonshire cream … really that tablespoon portion can barely cover one scone. Sure, they also offer a selection of Greaves preserves (strawberry, raspberry, and marmalade), but what makes the scones is the cream. More Devonshire for all!

Even The Old Mill’s service has improved. Our tea started with a complimentary glass of the Mill-mosa (oh the puns!). While this free version is made from 95% orange juice and 5% sparkling wine, it was still a nice gesture.



You’ve heard it before: businesses must change or fail. It’s nice to see The Old Mill update their menu to offer something better. It’s hopefully these improvements that will help the business succeed for another century.  


Overall mark - 7 out of 10



How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 9 Old Mill Road

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


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Old Mill Dining Room - Old Mill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ste. Anne’s Spa for afternoon tea (Grafton)


After a day of pampering at Ste. Anne’s, what better way is there to end the day (assuming you’re not staying overnight) than indulging in afternoon tea with your guests? An extra meal squeezed in between lunch and dinner; time to sit back and sip tea while going over the highlights. 

Given we already had a hefty lunch, we didn’t think we could get through all the tiers, but somehow we managed. Who knew an hour hike around the property would spur up such an appetite? 

Their tea selection consists of a page of options. The English Breakfast, which I had during lunch, was nice and strong and gave me the caffeine jolt I needed. But, for afternoon tea, it seemed better to stick with something light and mellow, the green tea was the ideal option. 

The traditional tiered plate arrived to share and contained enough food to leave us satisfied (and not requiring dinner that evening) but still in small bites so we could get through trying everything.

Within the top tier was a tamari glazed steamed carrot bun, which almost tastes like Chinese BBQ pork buns except stuffed with squash and has a sweet and silky texture. This was very tasty. So was the tourtière topped with savoury caramelized onion jam … two bites of goodness. Only the cream cheese and cucumber sandwich, a staple of the afternoon tea, was forgettable – possibly because everything else was so good.  


In the middle, a tier of cheese (havarti and gouda?) with crostini, crudites, and grapes. It’s an interesting addition and nicely transitions the savoury bites to sweet.


But, the one thing that makes afternoon tea are the scones. At Ste. Anne’s, theirs are filled with raisins (something I could do without). Yet, in the spirit of tea, once I slathered enough Devonshire cream and jam onto it, it was fine. Interestingly, Ste. Anne’s also offers two Devonshire creams with two levels of sweetness.


What surprised me the most was the final sweet tier and how enjoyable they were. These are generally the items I’ll take a bite of and put down, at most finish one– at Ste. Anne’s, I indulged in everything: 

  • Macarons can sometimes be too brittle or sweet, but at Ste. Anne's it was like eating an airy biscuit that envelopes your mouth in an almond flavour that thankfully didn't resemble fake extract. 
  • Meanwhile, the sesame butter cookie was deliciously nutty and chewy. Oh, how I wanted more!Alas, by the time we made our way to Ste. Anne's bakery down the road, I was met with disappointment. 
  • Lastly, and most surprisingly, the walnut cocoa truffle, which was creamy and incorporates a rich cocoa taste without the overpowering sugary blast – all truffles should taste like this.
Given Ste. Anne’s is a spa, afternoon tea was served in a bright sunny room very casually. You don’t need to wear a hat and heels (in fact, robes are not only allowed, but encouraged) and feel free to laugh and be noisy. After all, the day trip is all about relaxing and recharging. Oh, and of course, refueling at the end of the day.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Grafton, Canada
 Address: 1009 Massey Rd

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


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Afternoon tea at the Ritz Cafe (Toronto)


Afternoon tea conjures up images of flowers, frilly hats, and plate tiers holding two-bite delights. Alas, it also reminds me of stuffy traditions, odd eating times, and long periods of sitting. Hence, I was intrigued about the casual weekday option at the Ritz Café ($28 per person) – noon reservations are allowed, there’s no dress code, and you’re given a decent amount of food that could work as a lunch without leaving you stuffed. 

The tea selection includes six Sloan Leaf options. While the Signature Black isn’t the most aromatic, it’s a strong full-bodied tea, which I find is required to hold up against all the sweets.

In lieu of the tiered plate tower, a decorative holder arrives instead. While pretty to look at, it’s difficult to use as you need to keep swiveling it to the side (on a small packed table) to extract food. For anyone who’s clumsy, I’d approach removing the middle items carefully.


I’m always partial to the tea sandwiches. Ritz Café offers four with the afternoon tea: a traditional cucumber and dill cream cheese that’s open faced and incorporates strong dill flavours; smoked salmon with pickled onion stuff in a croissant; a ham and cheddar in a bun that’s way too hard; and the best of the bunch, a mustardy egg salad enhanced with celery seeds.

Of course, it’s not tea without scones. While, I personally prefer one large one to two small scones (so there’s more of the fluffy innards), Ritz’s scones were warm and thankfully didn’t contain any fruit to allow the Devonshire cream and selection of Graves preserves to flavour the biscuit.


To end the meal off on a sweet note, a selection of desserts including a creamy lemon cheese cake; a really chocolatey and overly sweet macaron; and a tasty raspberry tart that had a light crispy shortbread crust.

For anyone who enjoys afternoon tea amongst a casual atmosphere at an affordable price point, the Ritz Café’s weekday menu is a great option to get your fix of all the traditional aspects of tea, without the pomp and fuss. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 181 Wellington Street West

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



DEQ Terrace & Lounge - The Ritz-Carlton Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Celebrating the Queen's 90th with afternoon tea at the Fairmont Royal York

Fairmont Royal York afternoon tea

First of all: is it high tea or afternoon tea? I had incorrectly thought high tea was simply the frou-frou name for the same event. When in fact, according to About Food, afternoon tea is actually the more elite social gathering of the two. Since it happens in the afternoon, the foods served are lighter; small cakes and sandwiches, essentially the items we traditionally link to the occasion. Whereas, high tea occurs in the evening when the working masses are done for the day: meals are heavier, even including items such as fish and meat pies. Hopefully, that assures you I’ve named the post correctly.

The Fairmont Royal York is a great place in Toronto to indulge in afternoon tea. The hotel, a historical landmark to our city, is rich with architectural elements and the elegant touches that makes having tea there an experience.  


Not to rest on their laurels, Executive Chef Robert Mills recently re-vamped the menu, taking inspiration from properties across the world – including the Savoy in Britain – while maintaining some tried and true favourites such as their signature Chantilly Swan. Interesting fact: this pastry was inspired by the hand painted ceiling in one of the hotel’s ballrooms.


My favourite part of their new menu are the sandwiches, made with different breads and topped with plenty of varied ingredients:
  • Vibrantly coloured grilled vegetables sitting on a soft pretzel spread with hummus, great for the summer months.
  • Encapsulated in airy brioche is smoked turkey breast slightly sweetened with cranberry aioli and a crunchy chicken salad mixed with caramelized pecans for added texture.
  • The smoked salmon mini bagels are cute and dainty, the essence of afternoon tea sandwiches.
  • Even the traditional cucumber sandwich is jazzed up by being served open-faced in a beautiful fan and the cream cheese spiked with pink peppercorn.
Yet, Chef Mills understands when to leave things alone, which is the case when it came to the scones. The recipe has been used in the hotel for decades; these freshly baked biscuits simply require plenty of silky Devonshire cream and preserves to spread on top.


The top tier holds a tempting selection of pastries: aside from the cream puff swan there’s also a rich dark chocolate truffle torte, cute meringue tart and a chocolate cup filled with refreshing guava cream with fruits.      


In celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday, I was lucky enough to get invited to experience afternoon tea inside the ROYAL SUITE … the same place the Queen herself (and consequently Prince Harry just the week prior) stays in when they visit Toronto.

With two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a comfortably sized living room complete with fireplace and full dining room (perfect for private dinner parties), the Fairmont Royal York is the official royal residence. In fact, the family even stores personalized furniture at the hotel, which gets moved into the suite before they visit.  


Alas, staying at the Royal suite is by invite only; under normal conditions it hosts other world leaders (Bill Clinton) and an array of celebrities (Leonardo Di Caprio, Justin Bieber, Helen Mirren and Vin Diesel).

As a special treat, Chef Mills served a chocolate biscuit cake (not normally part of their afternoon tea menu), the same cake served at Prince William and Princess Kate’s wedding. Chocolate lovers would swoon with its luscious smooth dark chocolate interior, crunchy bits of cookies along the circumference and silky sweet ganache on top.


It’s a rich cake, but went particularly well with the Librarian Liberation whiskey chai tea, a bespoke blend made at the hotel that smells faintly of whiskey but packed with the taste of exotic spices (cardamom, cinnamon and cloves). The tea is so flavourful it didn’t need milk or sugar.    


Afternoon tea ($50 per person) is normally served in the hotel’s Library Bar (near the lobby) on Saturday and Sunday with 12:00, 12:30 and 2:30 seatings. After the filling meal, stick around for the complimentary tour at 2:00 and 4:00 where you’ll be whisked around the hotel, learning interesting details and even visiting areas not normally accessible to the public (including the hotel’s rooftop that houses over 300 honey bees and herb garden)!

The hotel has come a long way since it started as its own city within Toronto – spoiler alert from the tour: Royal York use to have a connected golf course, bank, 12,000-book library and even hospital beds on site!

Nonetheless, in a world that’s always changing, sometimes it’s nice to embrace tradition, slowing down and simply relaxing over a cup of tea. The fact that the tea comes with three tiers of delectable sandwiches and pastries? You deserve the royal treatment.  

Disclaimer: the above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will still provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 100 Front Street West

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog

Library Bar - The Fairmont Royal York Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato