November 7, 2011 – Between two museum visits or shopping sprees, retreat to a quiet oasis of calm and civility to enjoy the English custom of afternoon tea.
Tea with the Queen
The tradition of tea time is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, which may be witnessed by the increased number of great hotels that offer this civilized custom to their guests. Among these is Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, which pays homage to its namesake. This elegant hotel welcomes tea-drinking devotees with invitingly deep plush sofas. Coffee lovers are included in this afternoon ritual, which features the best of the Viennese beverage and its accompanying sweets. Guests may purchase the delicacies they enjoy directly from the Beaver Club’s Boutique Gourmandise.
High tea with a twist
As part of a French-owned hotel chain, it’s no surprise that Montréal’s Sofitel serves up afternoon tea with a strong French accent at its Le Renoir restaurant. Alongside traditional British fare like snack-sized sandwiches (no crusts, of course), you’ll find hot Belgian waffles topped with whipped cream and local maple syrup, as well as an array of mouth-watering French pastries by Chef Olivier Potier. Served as part of an all-you-can-eat buffet, marvellous madeleines, sweet canelés, melt-in-your-mouth macaroons and nutty chocolate clusters are just a few of the treats that would tempt even the Queen herself to lose all dignity and composure—if only for an instant.
Tea in fine style at Birks Café
Served daily from 2:30 p.m., afternoon tea at the Birks Café has a more traditional flavour, in a more traditional setting. Renowned chef Jérôme Ferrer treats guests to an afternoon menu that’s priced for the everyman, but fit for a king. It starts with a selection of high-quality teas from Mariage Frères, but also includes scones (perfectly complemented by Roland Del Monte jam), a macaroon, mini sandwiches, and finger foods like duck foie gras, smoked salmon and caviar from the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region of Québec. This journey for the senses ends on a sweet note: a dessert served in a verrine is accompanied by chocolate from the Christophe Morel selection, as well as a bag of sweets to take home.
Tea time at Nocochi
A café named after its signature nocochi—small, spiced cookies made out of chickpea flour—is probably not the first place you’d think of for afternoon tea. But, if you go to Nocochi once, you’ll probably end up there again. Delectable food and tasteful, minimalist décor make this former art store a second home for neighbourhood residents and shopkeepers. Served daily from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., two versions of afternoon tea are on the menu—the more traditional “English” tea and the café’s own “Nocochi,” which brings out the café’s trademark Persian flavour.