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Apr 26, 2007 09:25 AM

afternoon tea in Montreal?

A friend and I are planning a "girls' weekend" in Montreal for late May. We would like to do a full afternoon tea (i.e., finger sandwiches, sweets, scones, clotted cream, proper tea service) and my research seems to indicate that there are only three places in Montreal that offer this, all hotels: the Queen Elizabeth, the Ritz-Carlton, and the Hotel St-James.

I'm looking for some comments on the quality of food and service at these locations. (I did find one review of the RC which was quite disparaging but it was from 2000 so it's a bit dated :)

Also we are planning on having dinner at the Beaver Club so I was leaning away from having tea at the QE...but if it's really the best of the three, I could be persuaded to go there.

Any partakers of afternoon tea out there?

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  1. I haven't been to any of the above so unfortunately can't comment on these higher-end places.... (though I'm interested in others' reviews) but I wanted to let you know that there's another, lesser-known option that's a bit more homey and cozy than the hotels - but delicious, plentiful, fun, and great value.

    The Gryphon d'or tearoom on Monkland in NDG does afternoon tea for $15 a person - including their homemade scones (which they make themselves in their own bakery and are famous for), homemade jam, "mock" devon cream, freshly made sandwiches (cucumber, smoked salmon, egg) made just before you arrive, a whole variety of their homemade sweets (like their famous shortbread, lemon bars, brownies & other goodies) and a nice pot of tea. This isn't the "chichi" atmosphere of the hotels you mention, but if it sounds appealing you may want to try it! I'm actually taking a friend there tomorrow as a birthday treat, so I'm really psyched!

    Gryphon d'or
    5968 Monkland Avenue

    Things to note: I think they're closed Sundays these days, afternoon tea is offered after 2 PM only, and you need to reserve at least 24 hours in advance.

    There is also this list of all the tearooms in Quebec:

    1 Reply
    1. re: kpzoo

      Thanks for the link...I'm really interested in customer reviews...

      The place in NDG sound nice too -- obviously not the high-end, silver tea service kind of deal like I originally descibed. As I'm also a fan of this style of afternoon tea (Tea & Sympathy in Greenwich Village, NYC being my favourite of this variety) I'll definitely keep it in mind though! Thanks also for the heads-up re: their hours and reserving in advance.

    2. I would avoid The Ritz. I haven't been to tea there. But the place has gone steradily down hill over the last few years.

      1. I have been to tea at the Ritz for a friend’s mother’s birthday.
        Although there were 12 of us paying $25 p.p. they brought out two pots of tea & two trays of tiny sandwiches etc.

        We almost had to take the place hostage to get more tea and treats.
        It was a real let down as we were all looking forward to it.

        A couple of weeks ago I visited Gryphon with a friend that is a tea lover.
        We didn’t stay, as what I saw was disappointing.
        1st You need to give them 48hrs notice if you are interested in having high tea.
        2nd Their tea choose is limited to aprx five teas and not leaf but in tea bags.
        I really wish it was different as it is real close to my home.

        I have heard very good things about Le Saint James high tea and it is definitely the most beautiful room in Montreal.
        I often go to Le Saint James for cocktails and I am always wowed by the room and service.
        It is the closest thing you will get to a high tea in the style of London’s Claridge or The Lanesborough.

        Please let us know of your experience.

        8 Replies
        1. re: InterFoodie

          Hiya - re: Gryphon - unless they've changed their policy, it's always been 24 hrs. notice (but perhaps this has been increased - it's a small operation so maybe they decided they need more advance notice - I'll ask when I'm there tomorrow). re: the tea - I've always gotten leaf tea in a pot, not bagged. They actually buy the tea from Amours des Thés up the street on Monkland. Again, maybe this has changed since I was last there, but I'll verify tomorrow.

          1. re: kpzoo


            When I went I was told by the lady working that it was 48hrs and when I asked to see the tea selection she showed me a plate with different teas but all in bags.

            I would be interested to know if I was told something wrong or shown the wrong teas.

            I really would like it to be successful as it is only two blocks from my home.

            1. re: InterFoodie

              I'm pleased to report that Gryphon d'Or is still serving a decent selection of loose teas at their afternoon tea, in addition to several dozen bagged varieties. The loose options yesterday included darjeeling, English Breakfast, sencha, Lung Ching, green tea lemon, and green tea caramel, and came from local purveyors including Amour des thés and Brûlerie St-Denis.

              As for how much advance notice is needed, I forgot to confirm verbally, but the sign explaining afternoon-tea protocol said one day's notice is required.

              I've attached some pics below for anyone who's curious. Highlights for me yesterday included the maple shortbread and apple-walnut loaf.

              And to correct what I said above, the price is now $20/person - still a great value - I used to wonder how they weren't losing money at $15 a head!

              1. re: kpzoo

                Thank you so much, kpzoo...For both the updated details and the pics. It seems like it's a very reasonable afternoon tea for the $20 price tag -- the quantity of food is on par with other teas I've had elsewhere and the presentation looks nice. I'll definitely consider it. Again, thanks for the update!

                1. re: kpzoo

                  Thank you kpzoo for the info.
                  It is obvious that I was misinformed.
                  I will go back and give it a try.

                  1. re: kpzoo

                    Gryphon is always my 1st choice for lunch and afternoon tea in the recent years.
                    Cosy place with delicious scones and shortbread....
                    only negative part is... they don't open on sundays and probably not even saturdays in summer, so you better call before you go. ( good news is, I talked to Peggy, the owner, when had my lunch last week, she mentioned that they may open some saturdays this summer)
                    I am brought up in a very british environment and so far Gryphon is top of my list in Montreal area.
                    Ritz Montreal and QE are not real "5 star" hotel in my point of view comparing to afternoon tea I had in Mandarin Oriental...
                    Hotel St James... haven't tried yet for afternoon tea but I find that their X.O. is over-rated after having dinner there.
                    The 1st visit to Tea & Sympathyin NYC was impressive (4 years ago). I was there last month and was quite disappointed. Teh choice of tea is still great but the scones are not really freshly prepared. I will try this place nex time

                    1. re: glasshouse

                      Thanks for the endorsement of the GdO...I think it's where we'll go. While the "high tea" experience was what I was looking for initially, my main priority is a "good" tea so I'm willing to let go of the silver tea service, etc.

                      It's too bad that you didn't enjoy Tea & Sympathy in NYC...I went in March 2004 and again in May 2005 but I only had their afternoon tea on the first trip (it was amazing). I opted to order a regular lunch dish on the second trip b/c I found the afternoon tea too much for the first time around!

                      Thanks for the tip on Alice's Tea Cup...I'm not planning on visiting NYC anytime soon but a friend of mine (who I went to T&S with both times) will be there later this month so I'll pass your recommendation along to her.


                      1. re: jezebella73

                        I should say, just the scones were disappointing me in my March visit to Tea & Sympathy (maybe I am too get used to Gryphon's freshly baked ones). I have been there more than 3 times. The choices of tea and chinaware being used are still incredible.
                        In NYC, I also tried FAUCHON at Swiss Hotel, not impressive at all with super slow services.

            2. Your best bet it one of the hotels you mention or if there's a place in Westmount that serves afternoon tea. Overall, this is not a good city for anything requiring British influence (i.e. marmite, lemon curd, and tate & lyle's golden syrup are all difficult to find).

              4 Replies
              1. re: eoj

                Actualy you can get all that stuff at Hoggs hardware on Sherbrooke St.

                1. re: Withnail42

                  Yes, but in, say, Ontario, you can get it at the Loblaws.

                  1. re: eoj

                    I’m in complete agreement with you. I thought you were looking for those items in Montreal…and the hardware store has been the only place I have been able to find them myself. The fact that they are found in a hardware store more than proves your point.

                    1. re: Withnail42

                      That hardware store must be amazing because I had it recommended a day earlier as a place to find something else in a totally different context (aromatic cedar chips for closets/drawers).

              2. There used to be some private women's club that offered afternoon tea and brunch to the public if you called 24hrs in advance - somewhere on Drummond or somewhere around there. Great salons and decor, not sure if it's still around ? I'll try and remember the name...

                2 Replies
                1. re: yow yul

                  The one on Drummond sounds like the Mount Stephen Club. Haven't been there yet.
                  As for Alice's Tea Cup in NYC: It's a nice place, Alice in Wonderland theme all over the place, and the wait-staff have little fairy wings attached to their backs. There are two tea rooms, one on the Upper West side, and a newer one on the Upper East side. My main complaint about it, and it is a minor one, is that the scones are way too big. That's fine if you have enough self-control not to eat everything on your plate, and don't mind getting a doggy bag when you leave.

                  1. re: baner99

                    Yes - that's it - the place on Drummond is the Mount Stephen Club. Thanks baner99.
                    Their website has photos which will give you a sense of the place