I am partaking in a journey where I will appraise every non-franchise restaurant in town and review their food as well as their service. It is an attempt to expand my mind and appetite. Simultaneously, I will also be taking what I learn from these establishments and attempting to remake them with my extremely limited skill.
To celebrate my Mother’s 50th birthday (old as you feel), I treated her to high tea at the Empress Tea House, a recent review. After hearing that a classic tea was offered, I couldn’t help indulge it.
I’ve stated previously that the second phase of my blog would involve returning to my favorite locations during a dinner service. The Empress Tea House doesn’t offer a dinner menu and they close 5:00 pm. So there was no harm giving them another look. The first thing to catch our attention, less than 45 minutes after they opened, was the number of reserved tables. Better than to count them, it was easier to count the three tables that were free.
Despite the website’s claim that high tea is offered all day, the waitress corrected us that it was only offered after 11:00 am. They made an exception and we ordered the double. That offered up two kettles of tea—one maple black and one Belgium chocolate rooibos, with the maple being the better cup.
As an echo of our lunch at the Orangery in England, after settling into our second helping, the server came round and gently placed a massive a curate stand in the center the size of a car wheel. So when you ask for a double high tea, you don’t get two stands, you get one gigantic one. In near perfection replication to England, finger sandwiches were on the bottom, scone and pastries were in the middle, and desserts were on top. To be more specific, there were mini-quiches, mini-tea biscuits, mini-scones, and Nanaimo squares, served with a dollop (love saying that word) of both jam (sorry, preserves) and Devon crème. If you think this is a lot of food, you’d be right. It’s not often I get stuffed during a meal, and by the end of it we had one tuna finger sandwich and one half eaten Nanaimo square on our the plate. And apparently we weren’t done yet.
After the tree was removed, down came a trifle for each of us, layered in custard, cream, and fruit. Other places offer single plates for $26 this price.
Yup, we got a real winner here. If it’s for breakfast or lunch, you simply have to come. One bit of advice: Reserve your table.