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Afternoon tea alternative to Windsor Arms

Coming to Toronto with parents-in-law in early August and I want to treat my mother-in-law to a nice English afternoon tea. I have tried Windsor Arms couple times already. I enjoyed it but am ready to try some other places. Anyone has any recommendation?

It doesn't have to be in the downtown area but it has to be the traditional English style since it will be mom's first afternoon tea experience. I want her first experience with English afternoon tea to be an enjoyable one. I would return to Windsor Arms if hounds here think it's the best all around afternoon tea experience in Toronto.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. There is a lovely tea at the King Edward Hotel. You could also try the Four Seasons Hotel.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sherry f

      Sherry, Thanks for your reply. I heard King Eddy's serve theirs in the lobby. Is that true? If it's served in the open lobby how is the setting compared to Windsor Arms and what is the lobby traffic like? Would it take away some of the relaxing enjoyable experience of taking tea? How about Four Seasons? Is its setting as enjoyable as Windsor Arms? How is the food at these two hotels compared to Windsor Arms?

      Sorry about all the questions but I want to make sure mom's first impression on afternoon tea to be a great one. Thanks.

      1. re: eatingpal

        I just went for afternoon tea with friends this past weekend at the King Eddy (we spent 3 hours there!), and it was really good.

        I've only had tea at Windsor Arms and the King Eddy so can't comment on the Four Seasons, but I would say that I slightly prefer the ambience and the actual teas at the Windsor Arms, but liked the food better at the King Eddy (though mind you I haven't been to Windsor Arms for tea in a while...).

        Our tea at the King Eddy was at 'the Restaurant', but the actual seating is in the lobby, off to the side. It doesn't feel as private and opulent as the setting at Windsor Arms, where I love sitting in the booths or at the low tables, but it is still quite nice and is far enough away from the front-desk area so as not to feel intrusive. The area is just outside the restaurant and cordoned off....

        We had the King's Tea ($28), which included one of each of the following per person: a refreshing plum compote to whet the appetite, 2 mini raisin scones with jam and clotted cream, smoked salmon and creme fraiche on a blini, a mini tourtiere (yummy!), a dilled shrimp salad sandwich in a mini croissant (really yummy!), cucumber tea sandwich, roast beef tea sandwich, mini chai creme brulee, assorted other sweets (madeleine, mini butter tart, etc.).

        There's a little more food per tea at the King Eddy since I couldn't even finish all the sweets while I alwasy finish the entire tea at the Windsor Arms.

        You must try the Lady Grey tea too, but without milk or sugar - it's best enjoyed on its own.

        1. re: rosemarysage

          Rosemarysage, Thanks very much for the detailed report. It sounds great. I will go to King Eddy if not this time definately on my next trip. I am debating between Windsor Arms and King Eddy because of the setting. I really want mom to have the opulent feel of afternoon tea but the food at King Eddy sounds so fabulous that I can't wait to try it. It's a hard decision!

    2. Here's a thread I started not so long ago about afternoon tea-ing, which I mixed up as high tea-ing.


      From what the majority of Chowhounders told me, Windsor Arms is great value for price.

      1. The afternoon tea is in "The Restaurant" at the King Eddy, not the lobby. Personally, I think the hotel is more elegant than the Windsor Arms, although I like the "drawing room" atmosphere at the Windsor Arms. The Four Seasons Tea is in the "bar" on the main level which was renovated maybe three years ago. If you want to walk around after tea, you can't beat the location of the Windsor Arms or Four Seasons. Have a lovely time.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sherry f

          To be honest, although I love the tea at the Windsor Arms, I have felt ill afterward about 3 times now. The Four Seasons was lovely, the service was exceptional.

          I recommend staying far far away from the Royal York, as when I was there with a party of girlfriends, the waiter brought pots of lukewarm water to three ladies, and did not return with replacement teapots for about half and hour (one of the replacement pots was also lukewarm).

        2. I have been to afternoon tea most recently at the Windsor Arms and Four Seasons and have been to Epic (Royal York) a few years ago. Out of those 3, I would stick with Windsor Arms for atmosphere, food quality and service.

          The food quality at the Four Seasons was pretty disappointing. They had all the sandwiches, scones and pastries set out on a table right when you enter the lobby bar in a big platter, covered with plastic wrap. When my tea set arrived (after staff had assembled it by that table up front), the bread on the sandwiches was evidently dry. Atmosphere was good, food quality was only very satisfactory, but service was excellent!

          I remember Epic being good. Atmosphere definitely isn't as intimate as Windsor Arms, but food quality and service was great. I vaguely remember this fact, but I think they servie crumpets instead of scones. I could be wrong, they may serve both, but for sure they served crumpets.

          I have yet to try King Edward!

          1 Reply
          1. re: alleycat81

            have been to the Windsor Arms for afternoon tea twice the past year, both times were great (price, food, tea and service). Four Seasons - i had terrible service and hesitate to return as the food and tea weren't spectacular (imo). King Eddie's was pretty good, I liked the airy feel of the room. It's been too long since I've tried Epic to comment.

          2. Go to the RED TEA BOX Queen Street,west of bathurst. They have an adorable little patio in the back and serve great bento boxes that come with a pot of tea. www.mishsplayground.com

            1 Reply
            1. re: mtampoya

              While the Red Tea Box is a cute spot for tea, this is far from being traditional English style tea. They put an Asian twist to English tea by serving stuff like cold noodles and dumplings in addition to finger sandwiches and the like.

            2. The old Mill on Bloor West

              1. Didn't care for the Red Tea Box. Just found it pretty (which is always nice) but also expensive for what one is getting.

                Nobody has mentioned the Intercontinental. Do they serve tea and has anyone gone?

                1. Finally made it to the Red Tea Box this past Sunday at 1:30-3:30 and the two of us were seated in the lovely back room(don't even bother with sitting in the front shop if you can help it). The hostess kept insisting that Sundays after 1:30 are REALLY busy and to make sure to arrive early (by 1:00), but at 3:00 there were no other customers left in the tea room and they close at 5 pm Sundays. Overall, I was underwhelmed by both the tea and the food (chose the southeast asian bento box out of 4 choices of set menus -- all $25, but could just as easily have ordered the Mad Hatter's tea, which is their version of traditional English sandwiches and scones, etc.) Service was very uneven, and particularly slow. For $25, we received two spoons of rice with lemongrass chicken; part of a persimmon; two small mounds of pulled pork on tiny single sheets of phyllo atop julienned daikon with two thai bird chiles; a decent slice of greasy pistachio cake; and two TINY lime-coconut "tarts", each topped with a single raspberry and rosemary sprig - tasty, but mostly crust. Really not good value, and the jade well green tea was only average. Upgrading to a pot of tea that costs only $2 more if ordered a la carte costs $8 more if ordered as part of the tea bento! Ridiculous math.

                  The highlight was getting refills of cold water steeped in cantaloupe slices! (for water glasses, not teapot)

                  Was irritated with dry sandwiches at Four Seasons last March and will never go back there either.

                  My best value, best service, best food choice is still Windsor Arms, but can't wait to try King Eddy which sounds amazing.

                  1. Has anyone tried the afternoon tea at The Old Curiosity Tea Shop in Markham? I've been meaning to go check it out for awhile now. Will probably go in about 2 months time (after all the Christmas and New Year's gatherings).

                    Link: www.cuppa.ca

                    Old Curiosity Tea Shop
                    91 Main St N, Markham, ON L3P1X7, CA