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Tea at the Windsor Arms

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phoenikia Dec 4, 2010 01:12 PM

Nice room, tasty food if you like this kind of food (very fresh scones, smoked salmon, chicken salad, asparagus/lettuce sandwiches, goat cheese tarts, and "petit fours" which were actually squares and mini Red Velvet cupcakes rather than Petit Fours- tastier than the similar offering I was served at the King Eddy's tea during the summer), surprisingly poor service.

I was surprised how amateurish and rude the service was. The server kept asking us what type of tea we would like to drink, when only 3 of the 5 people in our party had arrived. After the 3rd time he approached our table, we ordered our tea. Then our friends arrived, and ordered their tea. The scone/sandwich/sweet tower arrived, and we started to eat. When most of us had finished the scones, the server brought small bowls of strawberries and whipped cream. I thought the strawberries and cream are usually served with the scones, not as a fruit cup after the scones. Hot water was brought to refill the tea pots exactly one time.

At roughly 2:40 pm, another server (not our original server), plunked our bill down on the table. Then returned with two plastic take-out containers for our remaining sweets, sandwiches and scones. Which I thought was just plain tacky.

We paid up, and were just getting up to leave, when a server told us they needed our table, and that we should leave. Not sure what he thought we were planning to do, after paying. The next seating was at 3, and I guess the staff was worried that they could not clean and set a table in a 15 minute window.

I did find it amusing that the Windsor Arms, similar to any good Chinese buffet, has different rates for tea, depending on whether you have tea Mon-Fri, Sat or during a "Holiday". As soon as I heard the Christmas songs playing in the background, and looked across the room and saw the lit electric Menorah in the Windsor Arms lobby, I wondered if we were going to get charged the "Holiday" rate today, but luckily, we were just charged the Saturday rate. Our tea came to $48 pp, including tax and tip.

While the food was tastier at the Windsor Arms, the service was better at the King Eddy. Never thought I'd be able to say that the service at Crown Princess (or even Rol San) is more courteous and attentive than the service at the Windsor Arms.

Note to self to lower my expectations whenever I visit a Toronto restaurant I haven't visited before, so I'm less likely to be annoyed when I leave.

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Rol San
323 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

Windsor Arms
18 St Thomas St, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

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  1. l
    LTL RE: phoenikia Dec 7, 2010 07:27 AM

    Thanks for the review, phoenikia. I am always on the lookout for new places to try afternoon tea. So far, I have been to the Four Seasons and C5 (preferred the latter). Did staff warn your table about the seating time in advance? I would have been very put off by being rushed out especially since I perceive afternoon tea as being a relaxing indulgent affair. Even weirder were the takeout containers with which you were presented!

    For what it's worth, WagJag is offering $48 for afternoon tea for 2 people: https://www.wagjag.com/index.php?_pag...

    2 Replies
    1. re: LTL
      jlunar RE: LTL Dec 7, 2010 07:38 AM

      I just tweeted about this too. It's a good deal, as most teas are pretty pricey in the first place. Tempted to get one, as I like randomly having afternoon tea with friends... but while fun, I'm not jonesing to go back either (I last went in May 2009).

      Also, the restrictions are that you can use the voucher only Monday-Weds, so... that's a big minus.

      1. re: jlunar
        l
        LTL RE: jlunar Dec 7, 2010 07:49 AM

        Oops! There's a lesson to read the fine print. I was debating this as well but I doubt I could use this on a weekday. I love doing afternoon tea with friends, but with my schedule only weekends work. Still a good deal though, I agree.

    2. b
      breezey RE: phoenikia Dec 13, 2010 10:13 AM

      When I first read this review I found the overall comments quite harsh.

      We were there this past Saturday afternoon after not being there for at least a year and enjoying it on at least 5 previous occasions so was curious as to what to expect espcially after this posting.

      Having said that, a few comments from our experience. First of all there arspecific seatings for tea. That means if you book for 1 and the next one is at 3, one assumes that you would need to leave in time for them to set up for the next serving. As I didnt make the reservation, I would have hoped that the hostess would have mentioned that. Perhaps its because of my previous experience there I knew that you cannot spend the entire afternoon there.

      We found:
      Service - not great at all. While we too felt rushed to order as soon as we sat down, we were there for close to 2 hours so didnt feel rushed at all once we got our tea and goodies.
      While the hot water was constantly replensihed, we felt the service unpolished as well. And once it got closer to next seating, the waiter we had seem totally flustered and we sat for a long time being ignored before we needed to get his attention to get the bill as the tables were being reset for the next seating. . I think the tearoom needs a manager to watch over the service which was a huge disappointment .

      Food - while quality of what is offered is yummy, i think the offerings could be better. One teeny tiny hot tartlet, varied rolled sandwiches and desserts. Found it odd that there were more smoked salmon sandwiches then the 2 others. Scones always wonderful but no one paid attention to the clotted cream running. out. Desserts were tasty. For the cost which is very high on weekends. think they need to up the ante.

      Oveall - I cannot believe I am saying this after being such a fan, I think I will be looking elsewhere for a better overall experience. We found Four Seasons too much like being in a coffee shop, King Eddy a bit too large and Royal York too much focus on dessert (or is this the other way around, totally forgot). Our best experience to date was at Langdon Hall but unfortunately its quite the drive.

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      Langdon Hall
      1 Langdon Drive, Cambridge, ON N3H 4R8, Canada

      7 Replies
      1. re: breezey
        p
        phoenikia RE: breezey Dec 13, 2010 02:47 PM

        Quite harsh, yes. That was intentional on my part. ;-)

        Maybe it wasn't clear from my original post, but we did have a 12:30 pm reservation, and we were aware of the seatings. Two of the guests had come in from out-of-town, and had run into some traffic problems, so they arrived closer to 1 pm. We were not expecting to spend the entire afternoon having tea, just a couple hours, at most.

        I have no idea why the servers thought it was a good idea to rush us, from beginning (before our whole party had arrived) to end, although it crossed my mind that they could be trying to sabatoge their employer.

        I experienced similar rude service the last time I ordered drinks at Avenue. Interestingly, the worst service I've experienced at Avenue came shortly they laid off some of their younger, friendlier bar staff. Not sure how the service has been at Avenue lately, though. Maybe it has improved.

        It's quite possible the Yorkville hotel restaurants aren't paying enough to keep their quality servers.

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        Windsor Arms
        18 St Thomas St, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

        1. re: phoenikia
          t
          torontofoodiegirl RE: phoenikia Dec 13, 2010 03:10 PM

          At the risk of changing the subject too much, I thought I'd comment that at a recent brunch (a pricey one, I should note) at the Four Seasons Studio Cafe, we had the absolute worst service I can recall ever having (at least at a high-end restaurant). In fairness, the server was friendly, but he was really, really incompetent. I've been meaning to post about it, but hadn't gotten around to it before now...

          So, Phoenikia, I think you may be onto something re the Yorkville hotel restaurants not paying enough for servers.

          1. re: torontofoodiegirl
            b
            breezey RE: torontofoodiegirl Dec 14, 2010 03:57 AM

            I think you may have something there re Yorkville. Perhaps the owners need to realize that not all their patrons are one time visiting tourists who have little impact on returning customers (if they care).

          2. re: phoenikia
            k
            kikitoron RE: phoenikia Dec 14, 2010 06:14 AM

            I have been the arms many times (on Saturdays also which is a busier day for them) and never experienced this.

            Whenever I have asked for extra jam or hot water it was never a problem and they brought it immediately.

            Not to be rude, but half your party was 30 minutes late. So what did you expect? How would you feel if you were scheduled for 3pm tea and you had to wait because the party before you was late. I would be pretty pissed! I am actually going to a chinese buffet (not really sure how buffets are even compared to high noon tea) today for a work lunch and they told us we have to be in and out in 1.5 hours and if we are 15 min late our reservations will be cancelled.

            I do understand you are a paying customer (I agree you should get good customer service). However at the end of the day you were late, and they needed to serve their next reservations.

            1. re: kikitoron
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              phoenikia RE: kikitoron Dec 14, 2010 06:26 AM

              We were fully aware of the 3 pm reservation ;-) We were not expecting, or even attempting, to stay longer! If 2 of the 5 people are late, but 5 of the 5 people understand that there is a need to leave on time, there is no reason for the servers to rush the party, unless the servers would like one of the people in the party to post about the experience on CH.

              We did not make ANYONE wait, apart from the servers who were chomping at their bits!

              Hope you aren't late for your buffet!!!

              1. re: phoenikia
                c
                czthemmnt RE: phoenikia Dec 14, 2010 08:13 AM

                Sometimes I find it frightful how quick people are to blame patrons as opposed to just shitty service. For $48 PP in this economic climate, it is obscene that service was so lacking.

                1. re: czthemmnt
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                  phoenikia RE: czthemmnt Dec 14, 2010 02:51 PM

                  Completely agree.

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