September 04, 2014

The Fairmont Royal York: Afternoon Tea

This visit to The Fairmont Royal York hotel marks my fourth year going to afternoon tea with Rich's mum and ladies of the family and every time is just as wonderful as the last. If you haven't experienced the pleasures of afternoon tea yet, I say go ahead and treat yourself! I mean, really...who doesn't like a table filled to the edges with pastries, finger sandwiches, fresh and pillow-y scones, various jams and honey, Denvonshire cream and pots of premium hand bagged tea?

Two photos of what the hotel lobby looks like.

We waited to be seated and once we were, our waitress gave us each a glass of water. We had seen a table neighboring ours with fresh strawberries in theirs, so we casually inquired, hinting that we would like berries in our glasses too...but she didn't catch on and proceeded to take our orders.

The tea I chose to have was The Empress 1908 Blend. While I usually take my tea black, I decided to "indulge" and to have it "with a splash of milk and a dash of sugar"!

Here's the set menu that we ordered. It changes annually, especially since last year, as The Royal York had offered a special menu in honor of the birth of Prince George.

I love the mix and match tea sets that make having tea here just a little more unique.

Cherry, strawberry and cherry jams/preserves imported from Europe.

We were lucky to be seated next to a large tall window, which made taking proper photos much easier. This is the Library Room, where tea is served. Spacious yet still super cozy with splashes of leopard print from the sofas!

Tea sandwiches (clockwise from left to right):
  • St. Mary's Smoke Salmon with Lemonade Aioli and Cucumber
  • St. Lawrence Market Caprese with Organic Baby Arugula, Pesto Mayo, Vine Ripened Tomatoes and Buffalo Mozzerella Cheese
  •  Farmer's Egg Truffle Chive Salad
  • Smoked Aurora Turkey Breast with Cranberry Emulsion
The sandwiches were good, though I think that the balance of complimentary ingredients in each were lacking. The Market Caprese sandwich was a little finicky to eat, falling apart at first bite. There could have been more basil flavour and some salt and pepper could have enhanced the flavours. I love egg salad, but I found this to be lacking of any truffle and the baguette that it was served on made it hard to eat. The crust was just too tough and chewy for this kind of sandwich, especially since it was not toasted. I much preferred the bun on which it was served on last year. Lastly, the turkey sandwich needed more cranberry as it was non-existent.

I let my tea steep, then poured it into this lovely floral and gold tea set.

These sugar "cubes" are a little unusual, which is totally one of the reasons why I chose a delicious black tea. I added two lumps to my cup...

...and a splash of milk. Stir, stir, stir!
The milk was chilled, so unfortunately my tea became warm, nearly cold in no time.

Our tiered cake stands arrived and they were beautiful and full of glorious desserts and pastries. Seriously, how pretty is that?! I don't know about anyone else at the table, but I totally Oooo'd and aaaah'd aloud.

A large plate of warm raisin scones were also passed around, two per person.
Give me a plate of these babies and I'll be the happiest gal in town. SO GOOD. I slathered mine with Denvonshire cream and a generous portion of raspberry preserves.

Little piped dollops of sweetness.

Some of the most delicious local unpasteurized honey. Liquid gold.
They were generous to give us each an extra pot at the end of our visit!

This was the Guava and Raspberry Mousse, which we actually ate first out of all the goodies. I just followed as others did, but I'm going to assume it's because this is one of the desserts that we cannot take home with us (it comes in a glass, as you can see) and it's just way too yummy to not consume. Makes sense.

The fresh fruits added a wonderful tartness to the guava mousse and the bottom raspberry layer was just as good.
The macarons, however were a huge disappointment. They looked pretty enough, but the texture was all wrong and the piece of Paté de Fruit sandwiched between them, held in place with dollops of ganache didn't help. The shells were not crisp, the interiors were not chewy and they crumbled sadly as if they were stale once I took a bite. Seriously, it fell apart everywhere as if the shells themselves were hollow. They were filled with a smidgen of dark chocolate ganache, but that was the only flavour. I'm pretty sure the maracron shells were plain.

Saved for last were the Pastry Swans filled with Chantilly Cream and the Chocolate Truffle Flourless Cake, which was one of the most rich and chocolate-y desserts I've ever had in my life. It was basically a divine block of dark chocolate ganache with a swirl of cream on top, adored with a cute chocolate plaque. As good as they both would be, both were packed up to go as by this time, even my stretchy pants weren't stretchy enough.
I'm not sure what's happening with the Royal York, but the food and service just wasn't as good as it was in the past. Everyone agreed that the service was horrid, as our waitress failed to checkup on us during our visit and didn't ask if we wanted our tea pots refreshed with hot water and/or a new bag of tea leaves. Our water glasses were left empty or half empty. Actually, we noticed she had disappeared from the floor mid-way through! Once were were ready to leave, we ended up asking another waiter who was clearly assigned to wait on other tables, for boxes and the bill. That's when she came out from the back to serve us. Lunch break? Smoke break? At over $40 a head including taxes and gratuity, you can safely assume that better service is to be expected. 

I think it's safe to say that all in all we had a wonderful time, despite the service and lackluster sandwiches and macarons. It was nice that Rich's cousin who was visiting from the West Coast was able to experience Afternoon Tea for the first time and as always, it was the company we were with who made it as nice as it was! Food wise, the highlights were the scones and Guava and Raspberry Mousse.

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Hi, I'm Janetta from Toronto. I cook, bake and often veganize recipes. I photograph nearly everything and those photos will most likely end up being posted here. I've got a little black cat named Tank, who's really cute and a little bit nosy. You'll see a lot of photos of her too!

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