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May 17, 2012 02:19 PM

Windsor Arms High Tea review - great tea, lovely food but seriously lacking in quality of service”

Great tea, lovely food but seriously lacking in quality of service

This was second time at the Windsor Arms for afternoon tea. I must say they do have a great selection of teas, so much to chose from. The price for the tea service is a bit on the high side at $45 but I wouldn’t say it’s unaffordable. The food is very good – you are served a tiered tray of scones with clotted cream/ jams, mini sandwiches (chicken, smoked salmon and asparagus) a number of sweets and a bowl of strawberries and cream to finish off your meal. It’s quite a bit of food actually so plan on skipping dinner!

Where the experience becomes a bit of a let down is the service – both times I have been there I have experienced the same lacklustre attention. Not so much because the wait staff is rude, although don’t ask for water as it seems to pain them to bring this to you, but mainly because the service is so scattered. Case in point: my friends both ordered blueberry tea but it was served to me and my other friend. The server only noticed that it was meant for the other two that had actually ordered it after he stuck his nose in the tea pot to figure out he had served us the wrong tea!

Note we were seated in the “purple room” and I have to say considering it is the Windsor Arms this room does not live up to expectations. Instead of looking lush and luxurious the room feels like was abandoned halfway through decorating by hotel mgmt. The lavender curtains look like shower curtains – they must go! The room has a wannabe Twilight / New Orleans vampire feel that falls completely short. Some overall updating of the décor is in order for this room – might I suggest it be made to look like an actual English tea room?

Overall I am a big fan of the Windsor Arms hotel and would give high tea there another try BUT I would want to be seated in a different tea room in the hopes that a/ I would get better service and b/ the atmosphere would be more enjoyable and a propos.

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  1. I have to agree on the poor service but I disagree about the food. When I went, I was sorely disappointed. The bread was bordering on stale. It was clear some of the items were made possibly the day before as the lettuce showed wilted browning edges. The sweets were either bland or too sugary. One of the scones was nearly rock hard. It was a disappointment especially for the price! It is a lovely location but definitely not for tea!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Nevy

      I can tell you the Sunday Brunch is really very bad - from the service to the subpar food served. And yes, stale rolls.

      1. re: Nevy

        I also had a poor food experience during my visit this past winter. Sandwiches were bland, had that weird taste of pre-made sandwiches that have been sitting in the fridge for too long, and the bread was soggy (consistency was like a wet sponge). When we raised our concerns with our server, he adamantly insisted that all sandwiches were made fresh but we pointed out this was clearly not the case due to the quality of the ingredients. Eventually, he admitted that "this sometimes happens in anticipation of time constraints during service". I won't be back.

      2. My family and I were there this past weekend.

        We were seated in a Russian-inspired room, which was drafty from an air-conditioning unit which would've been considered a modern convenience in the days of the last Tsar. However, it was cold and ugly to look at.

        We asked for it to be turned down, at which point the room became stuffy and uncomfortable. You'd think that for a hotel that's reportedly hosting the rich and famous, that'd they'd modernize their infrastructure.

        Service was ok, as was the food. I had much lovelier teas at the former La Tea Da in the Beaches. The owner was always personable and the food fresh. Too bad it's closed down now.

        As for the Windsor Arms, we won't be rushing back soon if ever. It feels as if the place is coasting on reputation, rather than living up to a high standard.

        2 Replies
          1. re: justsayn

            Sad to hear. Haven't been in a few years....maybe 5. But back then, it was good and service was top notch. Too bad that is no longer the case.

        1. we went there for lunch yesterday, and i too was shocked at the poor service.

          i called a week prior to make a reservation, and no one called me back. on friday i called again, and actually got a person to answer the phone. i asked which room had the vegan options, since one of our party was vegan, and made the reservation. when we arrived, they couldn't find it. there were three people milling about the host area, and one of them finally said "uh, let me just get that set up for you." then another overheard us mention something about the vegan options, and said "oh, wait, i know where you're supposed to be..."

          they took us to a table in "prime" which was near a service door, so we were treated to a fellow going back and forth carrying dirty tablecloths and whatnot. and the room was mostly empty!

          even though i told them there was only one vegan among us, they gave everyone the vegan menus without letting them know there were other options.

          i had a cobb salad which was fine. one of our party ordered a club sandwich which appeared to be made with wonderbread and come with mccain's superfries. our server was far too familiar for my tastes. for those prices, i was expecting much better treatment on all levels.

          will not be back!

          1 Reply
          1. re: smartygirl

            The place is run by the inmates. Absolutely no management. It is disgusting IMO how they rest on their laurels from days gone by. Even worse is the Sunday buffet! It's really too bad that tourists experience Toronto's dining, via the Windsor Arms.

          2. I treated my sister there to high tea, and was so shocked at the state of the room and the dishes. Our tea cups had chips, and when I showed the server, he switched our cups with those on an adjacent table. Lucky people who got to sit there! When I dropped my napkin, I leaned over to pick it up and was disgusted to see how filthy the floor was. It was enough to put me off my food.

            After I paid, I pointed out the abysmal state of the floor to the manager, who told me that I didn't need to eat there again. Wow. They must have so many tourist and other one-time customers that repeat clientèle is unnecessary.

            2 Replies
              1. re: eatereater123

                I hadnt been for years, until few weeks ago I went in one day to look at the dining room & menu. The staff were indifferent, rude and basically ignored me.
                Truly horrible service.
                They do not know the meaning of hospitality!

              2. My favorite part is when they say that they'll seat you on the "patio," which is restaurant-speak for a the sidewalk. A copy of phony potted plant separating you from the traffic apparently turns the sidewalk into a patio. Everything else was so-so.