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Tea yesterday at the Windsor Arms

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Yesterday i had a truly lovely culinary experience.

'twas wonderful, if a tad expensive.

Served in a wonderful, cosy room just off the lobby, tea was served by an impeccably polite wait staff, who were exactly the right kind of invisible during the meal. The staff know quite a lot about the teas they're serving, and exude an air of polite competence. i had the Russian Caravan tea, advertised as a blend of Lapsang Souchong, darjeeling (i think), and bergamot. The only disappointing part of the meal. i drink lapsang because i adore the smoky flavour, which was only barely present in the blend. my dining companions went for Tibetan Tiger (a dessert tea, described as having notes of chocolate and butterscotch), and Passion & Envy (i think that was what it was called; a blend of green teas. apparently delicious). tea was served with an array of wonderfully dainty rolled-up sandwiches (smoked salmon with tomato & herb cream cheese, topped with a tiny dollop of sour cream and salmon caviar; chicken with citrus essence topped with the tiniest diced tomatoes i have ever seen in my life; and spring greens, each of which had a sliver of raw asparagus sticking out), scones (some plain, some with what were advertised as raisins but i would bet money was actually blackcurrants), jams (strawberry, raspberry, and honey--i had to ask for marmalade, and was slightly annoyed that it was orange-pineapple, and not proper Seville orange), clotted cream, caramelized onion tarts (which were essentially baby quiches. delicious. far, far too few of those were served), and an assortment of what they called petits fours, but were actually an assortment of, essentially, dessert hors d'oeuvres. i would have been much happier if they had been real petits fours, as i 1) love marzipan, which is a traditional ingredient; and 2) have wonderful memories of making them with my grandmother many moons ago, somehow using every single baking dish and dessert-decorating implement in her kitchen in the process. Strawberries & cream were served after we had polished off everything else. The strawberries were nice, but it's a bit late in the season for them, and they were rather woody, although the kitchen staff obviously tried to minimize this by using extremely young, small berries.

my complaints are not in any way to suggest that i didn't enjoy myself; they're just things i would like to see happen in the future at the WA, so as to raise the tea experience from merely wonderful to truly outstanding.

if you want to go, i suggest you make your reservations some time in advance, as the tea room (which turns into Toronto's only caviar and champagne bar in the evenings) only seats, at most, about 20 people.

prices:

Cream Tea (pot of tea, scones, jams, clotted cream): $20 per person.
Full Tea (which is what we had): $27 pp; $35 after tax & tip.
Complete Tea (same as the full tea, plus a glass of sherry or sparkling wine): $32 pp.

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