I arrived shortly before 3 pm and the doors were locked. They open right on the dot, so don't bother going early or you'll be sitting in your car or standing outside waiting for the doors to open. The restaurant was very bright and open, thanks to high ceilings and large skylights and windows.
The menu listed the offerings of the day including a pot of tea, an amuse-bouche, 5 savoury items and 10 dessert items.
Tea and free refills are already included with the high tea. Other drinks and add-ons are available for a surcharge.
The amuse-bouche was a warm, thick and creamy Gruyere soup. It basically tasted like gooey melted cheese with the added zest of red pepper oil.
Tea arrived shortly after with milk, cream and sugar served on the side. Everyone had their own individual teapot with the tea of their choice. The staff actually steeped the loose leaf tea ahead of time and served the tea at the correct strength with no tea leaves left inside the pot. That does take away the customers' ability to make the tea stronger or weaker to their liking, but I found it a nice touch as I didn't have to worry about removing the tea leaves myself.
I loved the modern presentation of the staggered tiers instead of the traditional tower with round plates.
The picture below shows the portion for one person. It doesn't look like a lot, but it's very filling!
Overall the desserts were all spectacular and impressive. From the top tier from left to right:
1) raspberry pate de fruit - very tart and fruity, tasted more like blackcurrant to me
2) shortbread - soft and crumbly with a light buttery taste
3) macaron - light brown one had banana cream filling, pink one had cream filling with a jam centre
4) blueberry banana tart - who knew banana and blueberries could go so well together?
5) marshmallows - coconut and strawberry, very sweet with delicate flavours
6) French pastry - basically a piece of puff pastry, can't go wrong with that
7) scone - flaky with white chocolate chunks but not too sweet
8) jam and creme fraiche - went well with the scone
9) madeleine - bite-size (too tiny!), moist and fluffy with a light and refreshing lemon flavour
10) eclair - chocolate-covered with a matcha cream filling
The savoury items on the bottom tier were not as consistent in quality. From left to right:
1) spiced beans on sourdough
This was the worst item of the lot. It tasted like an Indian curry that was too spicy and too greasy. I got yellow oil all over my mouth from eating this. I noticed that all three customers sitting at the table beside mine left this item almost completely untouched. They packed other leftovers to take home, but left this on their plates.
2) foie gras cinnamon bun
I'm not sure who came up with the idea to pair foie gras with cinnamon bun, and while it may sound innovative in concept, it did not do well in execution. The creamy foie gras was lightly seasoned with salt and tasted great by itself, but the flavour and texture really did not go well with the large chunk of hard and slightly stale cinnamon bun on the bottom.
3) shrimp cocktail
This was actually one of the best items on this tier along with the devilled egg. The piquant cocktail sauce complemented the shrimp well. Honestly I would've preferred a larger portion of the shrimp and less fois gras and spiced beans. In fact, I wouldn't mind skipping the spiced beans completely...
4) devilled egg, house bacon, sprouts
Though a bit hard in texture, the bacon was very meaty and flavourful and went well with the egg.
5) cucumber, Comte, brioche
I expected the brioche bread to be soft, but it was actually a dry and crunchy piece of toast. Apart from that, this was just your average cucumber and cheese open-faced sandwich.
In conclusion, I enjoyed all of the dessert items and about half of the savoury items. Service was top-notch and surpassed the service I've received at the Fairmont Macdonald afternoon tea. My server provided a great introduction and explanation of the menu, and was also very attentive to my needs. The seating was comfortable and the environment was suitable for a relaxing afternoon chat with family or friends. In my opinion, this high tea experience was worth the price paid and would be a good option for a special occasion.