An honest review of the afternoon tea at the Windsor Arms in Toronto.
I’ve been working my way through all of the dining areas in The Windsor Arms Hotel lately. So far, I’ve tried the Sunday Brunch in the Courtyard Cafe and today I’m writing about their Afternoon Tea in The Team Room. I’ve also been to a couple private media events in The Living Room, but I’m not really counting those visits since we didn’t order off the normal menu.
The Afternoon Tea Menu:
The menu for the afternoon tea at the windsor arms includes:
- a pot of loose-leaf tea (per person)
- fresh scones with preserves and Devon cream
- an assortment of tea sandwiches (Potato Blinis with Smoked Salmon Rosette, Pinwheel Egg Salad, Vegetarian with Sundried Tomato Paste and Dill Cream, Croque Monsieur)
- goat cheese and caramelized shallot tarts
- petit fours
This was my second Afternoon Tea visit, so I already knew which tea I wanted from the menu. I love the Tibetan Tiger tea (Chocolate Bits, Vanilla, Organic Rooibos & Black Tea) because it’s rich, naturally sweet, and is perfect with a splash of milk. I need to find out if you can buy that tea from the hotel… I should ask. My mom had the Chai Arms tea (Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Pepper & Organic Black) a peppery brew with bold flavour.
You can check out the entire tea menu here.
When I go out for tea, I like to start with the savoury stuff first. At The Windsor Arms, you definitely want to eat the goat cheese and shallot tart first (while it’s still warm). We ate the tarts so quickly that I forgot to take a photo of them. Oh well, they look like tarts, you can use your imagination 🙂
Once the tarts are eaten, I like to tuck into the tea sandwiches. The Potato Blinis are a nice change from classic smoked salmon sandwiches. They are my favourite “sandwich” on the tray, second only to the perfectly toasted Croque Monsieur. After that, my sandwich love comes to an end.
Although the pinwheel sandwiches are very traditional, I think they are outdated and underwhelming. The egg salad tea sandwich should be delicious, but instead it’s pasty and rather gummy. The richness of the egg becomes lost when it’s rolled into the white bread.
The vegetarian sandwiches are the least enjoyable, in my opinion. They are also gummy, the sundried tomato paste and dill cream is undetectable and the greens (possibly watercress?) add a bitterness that I do not enjoy. I know that many people enjoy these kinds of sandwiches, especially people who have been visiting The Windsor Arms for tea over the years, so you should definitely try them for yourself.
It’s all uphill from here, I promise. The next tier that I like to munch on is the Petit Fours. These are always beautiful and delicious. The pastry team at The Windsor Arms is both talented and creative!
I don’t remember what all of these were called, but basically we had: a lemon meringue tart, a chocolate opera cake, a berry-flavoured macaron and a passionfruit square. My mom and I ended up cutting all of these in half so we could both taste each one. They all had excellent texture, flavour and presentation (I mean look at how cute they are!).
By this point in the meal, you start to feel full but there are still scones to be eaten! If you can’t eat two in one sitting (I can’t), you can ask the leftovers to be packed up for you to take home. Thank goodness! There’s no way I could eat all of those sandwiches and cakes, plus two whole scones! It’s a lot of food (making $38 a reasonable price).
The Windsor Arms offers two kinds of melt-in-your-mouth scones every day: one plain and one flavoured. The flavoured scones on our visit were black currant, I think? I should have written that down (food bloggers fail!).
Of course, the scones are served with preserves and thick cream for you to spread on. The Windsor Arms had a raspberry preserve and blueberry preserve both times that I visited. I like the blueberry preserve the best, as I find the raspberry one to be a bit too sour. The Devon cream is a bit odd though… for some reason, the cream always has a sour-cream taste to me. Maybe it’s because it’s warm by the time I get to it? I’m not sure. It’s still tasty, but different from other Devon creams that I’ve eaten.
The pricing for the afternoon tea varies depending on the day of the week, and the time of year. From Monday to Friday it costs $38.00 per person. On the weekend, it costs $45.00 per person. Then we get into the holiday pricing: $55.00 per person in December, and a whopping $65.00 per person from December 23 – 26th, December 31 and January 1st.
I’m going to be frank here. I adore the Windsor Arms Hotel, I really do. The staff members are very friendly, and the food is generally very good. So it pains me to admit that I dislike the seasonal pricing of the afternoon tea. If the menu was different, I could understand a slight increase in price, but the menu is exactly the same.
I had tea with a friend in early December, and we paid $55.oo each. We ate exactly what I listed about, except we had grilled cheese instead of Croque Monsieur because the hotel was out of ham (no big deal). When the hotel invited me to have tea at the end of January, my mom and I ate the same menu which was at the $38 price point.
I know that holiday pricing is not uncommon in Toronto (or anywhere really), but it’s a practice that I dislike. I believe that if you’re going to raise the price, you need to heighten the experience. Look at the Shangri-La hotel. Every December they hosts a Nutcracker tea for $42 that boasts a spread of beautiful, delicious food with a holiday theme. I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth there.
The tea menu at The Windsor Arms is worth the $38 price tag, but if they are going to charge more maybe they should add a couple of their beautiful holiday desserts to the menu? Just a thought.
Click the link to learn more about the Afternoon Tea at the Windsor Arms.
This meal was complimentary, and provided so that I could share my experience with you.
I have expressed my honest opinions in this post, and have not been paid to write this.