Windsor Arms – Afternoon Tea
Last Friday, I had my first experience of Afternoon Tea at the Windsor Arms Hotel (or just Windsor Arms). I attended it with my friend Susan.
Before we went to Afternoon Tea, we dropped by Aroma Espresso Bar in Liberty Village for breakfast. I haven’t been to this particular location since 2013, and I was glad it was still in the same location (I knew some of the places in Liberty Village got shuffled around). It was a nice, sunny day but still a bit chilly, so I knew I wanted something warm. Actually, I knew what I wanted to order: the Shakshuka and a regular Iced Berry Tea Lemonade (one of my go-to drinks at Aroma Espresso Bar).
The Shakshuka tasted like a mixture of salsa and chili, which are two of my favourite things. The serving size was pretty decent too. It came with four slices of toast and some bean-like spread(?). To be honest, I have no clue what it was but it tasted like beans. Safe to say, I left it alone after trying it. My favourite part of the Shakshuka was the egg on top. I love eggs, especially if it’s sunnyside up.
After our breakfast at Aroma Espresso Bar, Susan and I headed to Jukebox Print to pick up my business cards.
We still had plenty of time before our reservation for Afternoon Tea, so Susan and I walked around Yorkville area a bit and ventured inside the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. Finally, it was time for our Afternoon Tea.
The Windsor Arms is located in Yorkville. For Afternoon Tea, it is on the higher end. But, since it was our first time experiencing Afternoon Tea, we thought we’d go with the Windsor Arms Hotel for our first try. I had never actually been to the Windsor Arms Hotel before and I was quite surprised to see how small the hotel is. Nonetheless, it is really pretty inside and quite fancy. When we waited for our reservation time, we were to coat check our jackets. Shortly, we were guided to the Russian Red Tea Room for Afternoon Tea.
The Russian Red Tea Room is what you expected it to be – a red room! The walls were plastered with paintings, which I loved. There was a nice chandelier hanging above our table (Sadly, no photo of it from me). Susan and I were seated at a 2-person table. It’s a good thing we made reservations because all the spots were filled up!
Before we began our Afternoon Tea, our waiter told us how it all worked out. The food menu was preselected for us, but we had our choice of their loose-leaf teas. There were so many to choose from! I believe there were at least 40 on the list. I’m not a big tea drinker so I didn’t really know what the difference was between some of them. I did want to expand out of my comfort zone for my choice of tea. I usually go with a fruity, sweet tea, but I realized I’ve never had Earl Grey before (Shocking, I know!), so I decided to go with the Earl Grey with Lavender. Susan chose the Fu Man Chu with Jasmine.
My tea came in the loveliest teapot! I absolutely adored it and wanted to take it home with me. I had forgotten about the lavender leaves in my tea when I poured my first cup, so the whole time I had to try and not swallow them. I remembered to use the strainer for the rest of my cups. Because I’m used to sweet teas, I added a bit of sugar to my Earl Grey and some milk. I don’t like my teas (or coffees) looking dark, that’s why I put milk in them. It didn’t change the taste of tea at all; I could still taste the hint of lavender (and not because I accidentally had the leaves in the cup). I don’t know how many cups that teapot poured but I drank the whole thing! Let’s just say I badly needed to use the bathroom right after.
Now, onto the food.
On the website, the Afternoon Tea menu includes the following:
- Fresh Scones with Preserves and Devon Cream
- A Presentation of Fresh Sandwiches:
- Potato Blinis with Smoked Salmon Rosette
- Pinwheel Egg Salad
- Vegetarian with Sundried Tomato Paste and Dill Cream Cheese
- Croque Monsieur
- Goat Cheese and Caramelized Shallot Tart
- Petits Fours
Since the Goat Cheese and Caramelized Shallot Tart was the warm item, our waiter served it to us first.
You can really tasted the goat cheese in the tart. It definitely overpowered the caramelized shallot.
Next, we tried the scones. The first one we ate had what looked like blueberries in it. The scones also had a hint of lemon. On our table, we had Devon Cream and Strawberry and Raspberry Jam. I tried the Devon Cream and it tasted more buttery than sweet to me. The Strawberry Jam was a bit watery. The scones themselves tasted amazing. I could eat them forever.
Then we proceeded with the sandwiches. There was a particular order that Susan wanted to eat them in – she mainly wanted to eat the Croque Monsieur last.
Since I don’t eat fish (except for tuna and eel), I made Susan eat most of the Potato Blinis with Smoked Salmon Rosette. I had one just to try it. I can’t really comment on how the smoked salmon compares but the salmon roe had quite a punch. I bit into one and it exploded in my mouth! Its juice was full of salmon flavour. The Potato Blinis with Smoked Salmon Rosette wasn’t that bad but I’m not a fish person, so it’s not on my top list.
The Pinwheel Egg Salad was my favourite of the sandwiches. It’s simple but it was very tasty. The egg salad was nicely mixed and creamy. My only complaint: I wish we had more of it!
The Vegetarian with Sundried Tomato Paste and Dill Cream Cheese had an interesting taste. It was tangy from the sundried tomato paste, but I thought the dill cream cheese would balance that out. It did not. Instead, it overpowered the entire sandwich and it was a weird mixture of flavours with the cucumber. This was probably my least favourite.
Susan wanted to eat the Croque Monsieur (fancy way of saying “grilled ham and cheese sandwich”) last. I expected some exquisite cheese flavour from it, but it lacked. It just tasted like a normal grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Not to say that’s a bad thing, but I expected more.
The Petit Fours.
There weren’t any names for the Petit Fours, so I can only describe them by how they tasted.
I’ll call this one the “Cupcake”. Since only one of each Petit Fours was brought out, Susan and I split each one. For the “Cupcake”, there was a caramel filling inside. It’s actually quite sweet because of the caramel.
For this Petit Four, from what I can remember had a berry taste to it. It was a strong berry taste too. At first glanced this one looked solid and hard but once I cut into it, we found out it was a mousse! Susan didn’t like it but I actually quite liked that it was a mousse. It was smooth and fruity.
This chocolate wafer stick one was a chocolate cup filled with butterscotch. It was quite sweet and if I remember correctly, there was another chocolate entity inside at the bottom of the cup. I didn’t eat the chocolate wafer stick, but Susan said it tasted like any other.
We assumed this is a brownie. Susan really wanted to eat this one last, and so we did. We expected this to be like every other brownie we’ve eaten: sweet and chocolatey. We were disappointed when it was bitter. I guess it was dark chocolate, which I am not a fan of. It wasn’t overly bitter but it was not what we expected.
For my first time experiencing Afternoon Tea at the Windsor Arms, I had a lovely time. Even though I didn’t like certain sandwiches or Petit Fours, it doesn’t mean it tasted bad. It’s just not what I’m used to. My favourite food items were the scones, the Pinwheel Egg Salad sandwich, and the “Cupcake” Petit Four.
The service was great and it was a relaxing atmosphere. Susan and I didn’t know how proper we were required to be, but we managed.
Would I go back? Possibly for their Twilight tea (it has a slightly different menu). But I do recommend this place if you ever want a nice, sit down tea time with friends and family. It is a bit pricey, $38 on weekdays and $45 for Saturdays and Sunday, but as my first time, I think it was worth it.