Friday, October 7, 2011

Afternoon Tea at Four Seasons

After my back to back disappointing afternoon tea experiences at The Library Bar at Fairmont Royal York (first time with my Mom and then with my friend Julia, both bad) I had zero expectations for The Lobby Bar at Four Seasons not because I have heard bad things, but more so to prepare myself in case Four Seasons turns out just as bad. Thank goodness that wasn't the case - Julia and I thought The Lobby Bar was many many times better than The Library Bar for afternoon tea (why do they both have such similar names?!). We walked out of Four Seasons happy, content and satisfied, instead of unhappy, frustrated, and ripped off like our last time at Royal York (can you sense my bitterness?).

Before I go on, please note that I will be comparing Four Seasons with both the Royal York and Windsor Arms as those are the only places I've been to for afternoon tea.

Unlike Windsor Arms and the Royal York, the atrium at Four Seasons was pretty quiet (went on a Saturday). I'm guessing due to two factors 1) no live music and 2) just overall less busy compared to Windsor Arms and the Royal York. The decor at Four Seasons was also a lot more simple with light colours, in contrast to the Victorian style rooms at Windsor Arms and the Royal York. There was a lot of natural light here.

We opted for the regular afternoon tea menu with assorted sandwiches, pastries and scones. Other options were: a class of Veuve Clicquot Champagne (add $19), glass of any custom made martini (add $10) or glass of Astori Prosecco (add $8).

The tea menu. We chose the Floral Jasmine and Four Seasons Summer Blend.

This mirror was right across from where I was sitting so I didn't have to move one bit for this picture.

I didn't really like the tea set here - the square pattern with the silver rim has "hotel" written all over it. I prefer the more flowery and girly patterns =) To be fair though, this pattern on white do really match the decor at the Four Seasons.

Flora Jasmine tea, "delicately perfumed with Golden Jasmine blossoms of the first perfume and fresh mellow overtones with a slightly astringent finish", came out a nice deep red. Hurray for true loose leaves not in a bag! For those of you who do not know, my biggest pet peeve at Royal York was their use of tea bags and telling me they switched because strainers caused too many accidents with people getting burned O_o

Assorted Preserves, Devonshire Cream and Lemon Curd - Julia was all about the cream (I don't like cream) and I was all about the lemon curd, which I used rather generously on my scones.

The tower, which came out really fast!

Sandwiches (from top left): Cucumber & Cream Cheese, Ham & Brie with Roasted Pear Compote, Egg Salad Wrap, Shrimp Salad, Salmon Gravlax with Dill Butter - I really liked all the sandwiches as they were all the perfect size, not too big or small, and they were all very moist (not dry like the ones from Royal York). If I had to choose, my favourites would be the cucumber & cream cheese (loved the refreshing cucumber sliced super thin with cream cheese), the ham & brie with roasted pear compote (the contrast in flavours from the savoury ham and brie with the sweet pear compote was delicious), and the salmon gravlax with dill butter (really enjoyed a contrast in textures and flavours between the salmon, butter, and the crunchy cracker).

Baked Raisin and Plain Scones - I love scones and these were very good. I still prefer the ones from Windsor Arms as they were more substantial and a bit heartier than these ones.

Pastries (I'm sure you can tell which ones are which): Pistachio Financier Madeleine, Strawberry Chouquette, Chocolate Praline Mousse, and Lychee-Passion Fruit Tart - I didn't try the strawberry chouquette or the chocolate praline mousse because I was really full, but had the madeleine, which was average, and the fruit tart, which was way too tangy for me. Julia packed the rest to-go.

As I said in the beginning, Julia and I were both very happy with our afternoon tea experience at Four Seasons  We had no complaints whatsoever. If I were to rank my afternoon tea experiences, Four Seasons would be a close second to Windsor Arms, with Royal York as a distant third (very very distant). I choose Windsor Arms because 1) I really do love their Russian Room, 2) the food presentation and taste in general (especially the scones and the extra strawberries & cream at the end) and 3) the design of their tea sets.  However, if not seated in the Russian Room, I find that the other two rooms at Windsor Arms can be a bit too noisy and crowded on the weekends. Also, I find that the service at Windsor Arms is a hit and miss. 

I have no love for Royal York but it is the only place with live music.

Any suggestions as to where I should try next? =)

Afternoon tea prices (regular tea without wine):
Windsor Arms: $30 Mon-Fri, $38 Sat & Sun, Holidays $43/pp