The Secret Garden

December 23, 2010
It's almost Christmas time, and I was craving afternoon tea since my last tea experience at Adonia was more than 3 months ago. So when FF suggested a lunch outing, I immediately suggested afternoon tea at The Secret Garden in Kerrisdale. I called to make a reservation for the seating at 12 pm and was told that our table was the last one available! I also asked if the price was $26.95 as stated on the website, but the lady on the other end told me it was actually $36.95 because it was a special Christmas tea. Given the price and the good things I've heard about this place, my expectations were a bit high.

The decor was quaint and I felt as if I were in a cozy little British tea shop. On our table, we noticed there were 2 small pouches of Secret Garden's secret tea leaves for us to take home. Shortly after we sat down, we were each given a small glass of cranberry soda with fresh cranberries. I guess the tea leaves and soda must be part of the Christmas special.

Then our teas came in different coloured teapots with tea cosies. How cute!

I ordered the anniversary blend which was a blend of bergamot, jasmine and vanilla. It went pretty well with milk.

Then our tower of goodies came. This was FF's first afternoon tea experience and she was worried that she wouldn't be full. I assured her that the savouries and pastries were very filling.

Bottom Tier: egg salad pinwheel, sun-dried tomato quiche, smoked salmon and cucumber on biscuit

I started off with the egg salad pinwheel and it was very disappointing. The egg salad was bland, and white bread was obviously also bland. So the whole thing was rather flavourless. The smoked salmon and cucumber biscuit was typical and nothing out of the ordinary. The tomato quiche came slightly warm and was pretty good. The pastry was flaky and the filling was rich.

Middle Tier: cranberry scone, gingerbread cookie, Devonshire cream and raspberry jam

I loved this tier! The cranberry scone was coated with sugar, but it was not unbearably sweet. Both the raspberry jam and Devonshire cream were good, but I preferred the jam as I generally don't like cream of any kind. The gingerbread cookie was just a regular cookie, but it was still good!

Top Tier: lemon tart, gingerbread cheesecake, some sort of mousse/cake (with green tree-shaped candy on top)

The lemon tart was not bad, but I prefer lemon meringue tarts. It wasn't as sour as I had expected, but it was very lemony. The gingerbread cheesecake was rich and had a strong gingerbread taste. I liked it quite a bit. The mousse/cake with the Christmas tree on top was the worst item in the whole tower. FF ate it first and when I asked her how it was, her response was "It's... non-descriptive." I thought she just didn't want to comment on it before I had a taste. But when I tried it, I realized that "non-descriptive" was really the best way to describe it. The texture was halfway between a cake and a mousse. We didn't have forks, so it was quite difficult to eat with our hands as it was somewhat soft and mushy. It tasted rather bland with the slightest hint of sweetness. Other than that, it really didn't taste like anything at all.

In conclusion, I liked less than half of the food items. The tea and cranberry soda were alright. Was it worth the $45 I paid including tax/tips? No but it was a good Christmas tea experience nonetheless.

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