HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >

Discussion

High Tea

  • c

Can someone reccomend their favorite place to have High Tea in the downtown area? Can you describe for me what it is like? Thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. My favorite Afternoon Tea is at the Windsor Arms. It's very traditional. It's a cozy room with a fireplace,sofa's and low or high tables. Each guest gets their own pot of tea with unlimited boiling water refills. The service is impeccable and pleasant. They serve a variety of tea sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and desserts, all of which come out on a 3-tiered tray. Everything is always fresh. It's actually more food than a person can eat. After that a bowl of fruit with whipped cream is served.
    You also have the option of have sherry or sparkling wine.
    You have to reserve early and I think there are two sittings.
    During the Film festival is a fun time to go as you can often see celebrities arriving at the hotel.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Tina12
      a
      Alek in Toronto

      I have to say that I was at Windsor Arms just a few weeks ago with some out of town friends and the place kinda embarrassed me..
      The setting is alright however the furnishings are looking really ratty, they need to be updated...Its also kinda dark and dampy.
      As for the food, I found it pretty substandard on the Saturday that we went..tea was weak, clotted cream was runny, not thick and service was non existant and not very friendly.
      just my 2 cents..been to the King Eddy several years ago and remember a similar subpar experience.
      I think I will try the Four Seasons next time.
      cheers!
      Alek

      1. re: Alek in Toronto

        I have been to King Eddy, Windsor Arms and Four Seasons many times. I would say Four Seasons has the best afternoon Tea. King Eddy is kind of just for the tea, the coffee is bitter and the scones were hard. Windsor Arms needs new furnitures and you will not be able to get in without reservation! Four Seasons is kind of trendy and at least you can do people watching if you are not there for the tea. Just my 2 cents.

        1. re: Max

          I had afternoon tea at the Four Seasons today. Overall, the experience was satisfactory, but far from perfect.

          The chamomile tea was quite nice and refreshing.

          The sandwiches were above average. The cucumber/cream cheese was nicely presented. The lobster salad was interesting. The duck breast was a little dry, but sweet. The aged cheddar and apple slaw was okay. I enjoyed the apple slaw, but the bread and cheese were nothing special.

          The pastries were very disappointing. All of them hardly worth the calories and fat.

          The scones were buttery, crumbly and delicious and the preserves, lemon curd and devonshire cream were up to my standards.

          All in all, it wasn't bad, but the awful pastries would make me think twice before returning. Also, the service wasn't up to par. I'm far from picky, but they took far too long to offer a refill on hot water.

          I did have their South American with chilie "haute chocolate" and it was deliciously spicy. While the 12$ was pretty steep, I don't regret ordering it.

      2. re: Tina12

        I would agree. Went to High Tea a few years ago at my wife's request and found it very low key and enjoyable. Was just in Victoria, B.C. and went to High Tea at the Empress Hotel and it was a little like a cattle call. Move 'em in. Stuff 'em with (too little) food at an exhorbitant price and move 'em out. Windsor Arms was far better. My wife went to the King Eddie a few years ago and found that the service was terrible and the food was about the same.

        1. re: Attknee

          Have been to Cafe Victoria at the King Eddy more recently (last winter) and was equally unimpressed - even though when the reservation was made, the woman who answered the phone brought up the fact that they had just had a bad review and were making improvements.
          We were in a large group so the waiter dispensed with proper tea service, I can't comment on that. As for the food... too many sweet items, very few savoury. Nothing was remarkable, quality was just okay. The only thing anyone commented on favourably were the scones. And I think I could make better.

        2. re: Tina12
          c
          cherrytreegirl

          Thanks everyone. For those of you who have been to the Windsor Arms, what is the price? Do you have to get all the food, or can you order seperate items?

          1. re: cherrytreegirl

            Here is a page from their website. I've also heard that the Royal York is good but I haven't been.

            Link: http://www.windsorarmshotel.com/frame...

        3. p
          Patricia Wright

          I would recommend the Royal York. Their scones and clotted cream are sinfully good. I have heard others speak highly of the tea at the King Eddie but have not tried it. Pat Wright

          1. Been to Windsor Arms after all the glowing review with 5 other friends. At the end, all of us agreed it was an expensive high tea and also totally unimpressive. The food was VERY bad. The tea was just alright. But for close to $40 per head, how can the food be THAT bad?
            A friend from the same group went to Royal York and had a much better experience. I'm going there next time!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Pum

              For the umpteenth time, IT IS NOT NOT NOT "HIGH" TEA. It is "afternoon tea," the leisurely repast enjoyed by the middle and upper classes of Britain.
              "High tea" is a working class family meal consisting of a casserole of some sort or cold meats with toast, dessert and much tea - really what we would tend to call a "supper" though served without pretentions.

              1. re: John

                No no. You're ALL wrong.
                "High Tea" is an ancient native custom involving the steeping of the herb and imbibing enough to get high.
                John, you should try it out.

                1. re: Maureen
                  c
                  cherrytreegirl

                  yes John, it might help you loosen up a bit

            2. I presume you mean "afternoon tea," not "high tea," which is what workman take as their mid morning break in Britain.

              1. I am a huge tea fan. My favourites are the Prince of Wales in Niagara on the Lake, and The Blethering Place in Victoria. Nothing in Toronto quite hits that high, but my fave is Four Seasons (though more masculine than the usual "tea room"). The food is very good at the Royal York but you are tucked into what feels like a fenced off corner of the lobby. King Eddie not so great but haven't been recently. Have never been able to get into the Windsor Arms due to inability to determine in advance when I will have time for tea!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Jolie

                  Agree with the Prince of Wales recommendation. Would also add Langdon Hall in Cambridge to the list of very nice afternoon teas.

                  1. re: cynalan

                    Was at the Prince of Wales in NOTL today for afternoon tea ($32). Honestly, the sandwiches reminded me of what the Catholic Women's League (CWL) make for parish functions. The delicious salmon/marscapone pinwheels were sloppily sliced so that there were jagged edges. Other sandwiches included ham, cucumber, and egg salad. One giant scone each lacked oomph. Scanty serving of clotted cream. Server did not offer more tea or hot water. No tongs to pick up the soft blackberry mousse cake from the tiered platter. The hostess/server wouldn't seat us in the solarium because of not having "reservations" and the empty table was never filled.

                    I'd rank Prince of Wales as the second lowest of the afternoon tea destinations, with Four Seasons Toronto as the lowest because of their habit of leaving pre-made sandwiches to dry out.

                2. I was just at Afternoon Tea at the Windsor Arms hotel with my boyfriend.
                  It was not hard to get a reservation, we called on Thursday for a Saturday afternoon sitting. The service was excellent, we did not have to ask for extra hot water once. The ambiance of the back room was gothic chic. However, the food is where I have a problem. Not only were the "sushi" rolled sandwiches unpleasantly cold from being prepared hours ago and thrown in a fridge, but also, the pastry chef who is responsible for the sweets on the top tier of the tea set should consider revising the recipes. There was nothing memorable about the sweet or savory level. The raisin and lemon scones were mediocre. Nothing to write home about. They tasted too commercial.

                  On a positive note I would recommend the Chai Arms tea as well as the Black Velvet blend. Both flavourful.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: lambersky12

                    Definitely do NOT recommend the Royal York! We were there just after New Years and found the sandwich fillings very meager, the service very poor -- waited forever for more hot water (on a trip back from the washroom, I found the waitstaff clustered behind a partition discussing who had tipped how much, etc.

                    1. re: lambersky12

                      Wow, I thought the scones at Windsor Arms were fantastic and even now, almost a year later, still recall how fluffy and rich they tasted. I have to disagree with the above poster. Our party of 4 were sooo stuffed at the end but still couldn't resist licking our lips after those scones. Fantastic!! We really enjoyed the meal, great little quiches, squares were just okay though. I would definitely go back.

                      1. re: millygirl

                        hi millygirl, when was the last time you went to windsor arms? it's been awhile now for me (pre-reno), and i LOVED the scones. i've since been disappointed to hear the scones aren't the same, but haven't ventured back to try them.

                        1. re: auberginegal

                          The last time I was at the Windsor Arms was about a year ago, and I recall the scones being great. The Windsor Arms is my favourite afternoon tea destination, taking into account the quite good food, and the really lovely atmosphere. The decor is very traditional, and I don't recall it being shabby (though I suppose I went post-reno). Each person's tea is brought out in a different china teapot. It all feels very British...

                          I haven't been to the Four Seasons for tea in a few years (though I am, as it happens, heading there later this afternoon) but I recall their food being really fabulous. It's just that I find the atmosphere lacking, and not very afternoon tea-ish (it's nicely decorated, but is very contemporary). If atmosphere isn't a concern, I think it's the best place to head for tea.

                          I only went to the Royal York once for tea, and will never head back. The room was awful, and the food was too.

                          1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                            Hi auberginegal, it was probably pretty close to a year ago that we visited. Hate to think the recipe has changed, they were sooooooo yummy.

                            1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                              Ummm...if you found the decor "very traditional" you definitely weren't there post-reno. The decor now is quite cold, with white marble and deep purple walls. If you check the boards, some referred to is a somewhat boudoir-ish. It certainly is different, but I much preferred it before. Shabby? Maybe, but afternoon tea for me is all about the tradition, so haute decor doesn't do it for me...

                      2. Four Seasons seems to be the best option from these reviews. What are prices like?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: LTL

                          I went yesterday, and the bill for 3 people including tax (but before tip) was $101. The sandwiches weren't as good as I recall them being (Scones were lovely, though). I'll head back to the Windsor Arms next time.

                          1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                            it's sad how few places there are to go to for afternoon tea in toronto- are there really no other ones for a traditional tea? (i know there is red tea box, for something very different) but not really anything akin to say, Lady Mendl's in NYC- a lovely little tea saloon.
                            there are some outside of the city, but is there any place in downtown toronto that is more of a tea house, and not tea at a hotel.... i know this is not a helpful response....sorry

                        2. Try the Spice Room in Hazleton Lanes, now serving afternoon tea Wed thru Sat. Lovely ambiance and delicious treats/

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: duchesse

                            I couldn't find anything listed on the Spice Room website. What are their treats like? Are they spiced up a bit, with the African/West Indian/Asian undertones found in Couillard's recipes, or are they English-style?

                            1. re: duchesse

                              well that is very exciting!!! thanks so much for the suggestion, didn't know that.

                            2. It's not exactly the traditional "High Tea" or "Afternoon Tea" but The Tea Emporium on Eglinton W. has a lovely tea lounge with a wonderful selection of desserts, and a huge selection of teas. The lounge is a nice cozy setting, everyone gets their own teapot and they have cute little sugar samplers on the tables with cute baby spoons (I enjoy these details, what can I say) Anyhow it's a nice treat, a bit casual and very satisfying.

                              http://www.theteaemporium.com/custome...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: pantone

                                Not quite in the GTA, but...

                                has anyone has the Afternoon Tea @ Langdon Hall?

                              2. Well, nothing comes close to the tea at Fortnum & Mason BUT I did have a charming tea at VIctorian Garden Tea in Etobicoke http://www.victoriangardentea.com/ The scone was the chunky Scottish type. I had tea at the King Eddy once but it was much too heavy on the sweets and the price was through the roof. I'd love to try The Red Tea Box but just never quite get to it. I make the best afternoon tea. Everyone over to my place!

                                1. Been looking forward to trying a proper afternoon tea in Toronto forever, this article seems fairly helpful:
                                  http://www.where.ca/toronto/article_f...

                                  Anyone tried the Park Hyatt for tea? How was it?

                                  1. For something off the beaten track (but excellent) try the Red Tea Box on Queen West.

                                    1. One of my fav places for high tea is Windsor Arms...however recently I went to Moroco in Yorkville and it was great...their truffles were to die for...enjoy!!!