Fleuri - Afternoon Tea

Christmas time is coming around again and lots of afternoon tea places are inflating their prices. Luckily Fleuri at Sutton Place Hotel is charging a very reasonable $28/person for their Yuletide Afternoon Tea served daily from 3-5 pm until December 23.

The best part about the tea service was being able to see and smell the teas before making a choice.

I chose the organic green, a velvety smooth tea from China's Wuyi Mountains. The cup was full-bodied and complex yet mellow and delicately sweet. I think only Hotel Vancouver can top the tea here. I have no complaints about the tea quality. The teapot and teacup, however, were a bit boring compared to the ones at Shangri-La. The white tea set was plain and practical, but it did the job.

The 3-tiered tower came shortly after, and we were impressed by both the portion and the presentation. We had expected something a bit more crude due to the price, but everything was beautifully made and carefully arranged.

Bottom Tier: cucumber sandwich, smoked salmon pinwheel on rye, turkey cranberry pecan salad on brioche, ham and brie croissant

I was impressed by the cucumber slices on top of the cucumber sandwich. The bread was unbelievably soft and the cucumber was fresh and crunchy. The croissant was buttery and flaky with savoury ham and brie. I would have liked it a lot better though if it was served warm. Both of these items didn't quite measure up to the ones at Hotel Vancouver, but they were good enough for me. The turkey cranberry pecan salad on brioche was very tasty, and the brioche was much softer and fluffier than I had imagined. My favourite in this tier would be the salmon pinwheel. I loved the alternating flavours and textures created by rolling the salmon up in the bread.

Middle Tier: Sutton fruitcake, eggnog creme brulee, chocolate truffle bombe, spiced apple crumble (pictured separately)

I had expected the fruitcake to be hard as a rock just like the ones I've seen at local bakeries. It was surprisingly soft and dense with a medley of dried fruits mixed in the batter. The icing on top was much too sweet, but that was easily remedied by scraping it off. The chocolate truffle was alright with its sweet creamy mousse filling and rich chocolate biscuit base. I'm not a fan of mousse, so I would have preferred a thicker biscuit base and less filling. As much as I love both eggnog and creme brulee, I have to say the eggnog creme brulee was a huge disappointment. The brown sugar top was not crispy at all but a thin layer of gooey melted sugar. The texture of the custard was starchy and slightly grainy. The spiced apple crumble was served separately because our server had forgotten to include it when she brought us the tower. These mini apple tarts were my favourite out of all the desserts. The crust was soft and buttery, perfectly complemented by the sweet-tart apple chunks.

Top Tier: chestnut scones (served with Devonshire cream and preserves)

The scones were not very buttery or rich. They were rather plain apart from the sugar-crusted top and the small bits of chestnut inside, but I liked them that way because they were great with jam.

Fleuri is not a fancy afternoon tea place. The decor is simple and old-fashioned; everything from the seating to the tea sets is basic and practical. If you're celebrating a special occasion or looking for great ambiance, then you probably wouldn't want to come here. But if you're looking for a no-frills afternoon tea experience with awesome value, then this is the place for you. Personally I would choose Fleuri over any other afternoon tea venue just because of the value. The food and tea is comparable to the more expensive places like Hotel Vancouver, but the price is almost $10 less per person. (The difference is even greater during Christmas season when Hotel Vancouver charges $45/person.) So now I have a new favourite for afternoon tea!

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