VanDusen: Truffles Cafe - Afternoon Tea

I was excited when I found out that Truffles Fine Foods, the cafe located inside the newly built VanDusen Visitor Centre, would start serving afternoon tea on April 2, 2012. I quickly planned a trip there with Janice (Good Eat), Kirby (Eating with Kirby) and her friend Fontayne.

This is the side of the building facing Oak Street. The curved roof always catches my eye when I drive past.

Kirby tried to book a table a few days ago, but was told that the cafe doesn't accept reservations. We understood why when we arrived to see an order counter with self-serve seating. There was a consistent line of hungry tourists who just couldn't wait to get their hands on some food. I joined the line and ordered afternoon tea for four ($50). (Afternoon tea for two is also available for $28.)

There was plenty of patio seating with a nice view of the garden and lake. It was a nice day, but we didn't sit outside since we found it a bit too chilly.

We were told to choose two of these teabags containing MoTeas organic tea leaves. Apparently Truffles has a private label black tea blended by The Secret Garden as well, but that was never offered to us. We picked the Okanagan White Orchard and the Vanilla Rooibos. I'm not a fan of rooibos, so I enjoyed the fruity white tea a lot more.

The tea was served with sugar and cream on a wooden tray.

We all went for the Okanagan White Orchard for our first cup.

There was a water dispenser loaded with cucumber slices for those not in the mood for tea.

The food tower was brought to our table when it was ready. It seemed like a lot of food for the price we paid. Great! At least we were guaranteed to be full after this meal.

Bottom Tier: daily sandwiches, scones (cheese, blueberry)

We got to choose 2 sandwiches (regular price: $7 each) from the selection behind the glass counter. I don't remember the exact names, but one of them was a chicken sandwich and the other was called Hawaiian something. The sandwiches were the best part of the meal. The bread was lightly grilled, so it had a toast-like texture with just a bit of softness. Both sandwiches contained veggies and cheese, but the tender chicken was more intense in flavour, while the Hawaiian ham and pineapple filling was more tropical and light. Next we moved onto the scones which were served with whipped cream, house-made strawberry jam and VanDusen's own unpasteurized organic honey. The scones were completely cold and not at all moist. The blueberry one was especially doughy and gummy with a strong taste of uncooked or stale flour. The cheese was tolerable only because of the small cheddar chunks inside. I didn't want to waste food, so I slathered jam all over my share and managed to finish it.

Middle Tier: croissants, coconut macaroons, shortbread cookies

This tier tasted like it had come directly from Safeway. Everything was close to grocery store standards or even worse. The croissant was served cold and hard with non-fluffy layers and an odd stale taste. It was the worst croissant I've had in my life. Kirby and Fontayne didn't even touch theirs, while Janice and I were more than happy to share our portion with them. Most of the macaroons were under-baked except for the noticeably browner one hidden behind the others. The shortbread cookies were the only palatable items of the bunch.

Top Tier: macarons, petit fours (raspberry tart, chocolate square)

Kirby had been eying the macarons since the beginning. I think all of us were just hoping for a saving grace. Compared to the rest of the tower, the macarons were simply heavenly. But as you can see from the picture, the tops of the meringue cookies were not smooth. The texture wasn't quite right and the flavours were weak. The macarons were better than the ones I had at Thomas Haas, but nowhere near the standard of Thierry and The Urban Tea Merchant. However, I was relieved that they at least tasted decent. As for the other 2 petit fours, they were simply soggy pastries not even worth mentioning. (And I think there were fingerprints on the chocolate square. Doesn't that look like fingerprints to you?)

Apart from the sandwiches and macarons, everything else was very disappointing. The only other upside was the amount of food we got. When I first sat down, I was convinced that I'd be returning with my family because of the view and the great value. But after tasting the food, I really can't justify spending money on it again.

Truffles Fine Foods Cafe on Urbanspoon


  1. Yeah! there is a fingerprint! I looked out for it when I was fixing pictures just now.

    Anyways: EWWWWW!!!! lol I'm not overreacting.

  2. @Janice: That is pretty gross. Why would they touch the top of the pastry with their fingers?! You'd think they'd use tongs or something, or at least gloves...

  3. So glad you had the chance to try some MOTEAS. The Okanagan White Orchard is definitely a favourite among many. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Amber Piche - MOTEAS

  4. I was thinking of taking my mother here, and I remember you sending me a pdf or something about this, but when I re-read this post I'm rethinking it.

    Oh, and the prices are $35 for 2 and $60 for 4 now...


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