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Tea For Two – Afternoon Tea at The Windsor Arms Hotel

March 8, 2013

As I was attempting to think of a great birthday present for my mom, I remembered that she is obsessed with everything British. I knew that I had to combine my love of food with something that she likes (considering it is her birthday present), so I decided that afternoon tea was the perfect fusion. After extensive research, reading blogs, reviews, and pouring over delicious looking pictures, I settled on the Windsor Arms Hotel Tea Room. Tea cost $42.00 per person for the weekend. I thought the price was reasonable for the amount of food we would receive, and the ambience of the hotel itself. I decided to surprise her. I simply told her that we were going somewhere on this day at this time, and to not eat a lot beforehand. With my mom being a picky eater, I was nervous that she wouldn’t like the offerings on their menu, but I was confident that I could sway her to try some different things.

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Surprisingly, she actually talked about her own afternoon tea experience in London before we even arrived, so I took this as a good sign. When we got there she seemed excited, and ready for some bonding time over tea and treats. We arrived for our 3:00 pm seating a bit early, so sat down in the lovely lobby to wait for our table to be ready. After a short wait, we were led into a quaint purple room adorned with white tablecloths, cute tea sets, and a beautiful chandelier. There were plenty of groups of ladies, both young and old, along with a few couples. I am unsure whether these men were there for their enjoyment or against their will, but their partners looked happy. Our waiter promptly brought us our tea menu, which was quite extensive, and we were ready to go. I settled on the Tibetan Tiger, which was a black tea consisting of chocolate bits, vanilla, and organic rooibos, while my mom chose a similar decaffeinated version called Once Upon a Tea with an added fruit blend and mint. The tea was loose-leaf, so we each got our own strainer to ensure we wouldn’t be choking down any leaves. Soon after, our tray of goodies arrived looking extremely delicious and mouth-watering. Once our tea was served we dug in to a delightful display of sandwiches, scones, and petits fours that not only looked great but tasted great as well.

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We started off with a goat cheese and caramelized shallot tart just to get something in our stomachs. It was a great way to start our feast, with just a hint of sweet and salty. Next, we hit the sandwiches, an essential part of afternoon tea. Each sandwich was presented as a small roll. We were happy that they were small, because we planned on polishing off the whole tray. There was a smoked salmon and wasabi sour cream with salmon caviar, a cucumber with sundried tomato paste and dill cream cheese, and a grilled chicken with granny smith apple citrus mayonnaise, and greek yogurt and chives. Our favourite was the chicken, which had a nice balance of tart and sweet. The smoked salmon came next on the list. I didn’t really taste the wasabi, but it did remind me of a nice lox and cream cheese bagel (Jewish staple). Finally, the traditional cucumber took third place. It was fresh and light, but did not outshine the others.

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Our server was very attentive, and freshened our tea pots in time for our next course. I love scones, and these were delicious. They served both a plain and black currant scone with raspberry jam, strawberry preserves, and Devon cream. I have never had Devon cream before, but I figured I should slather it all over the scones because it looked and tasted so good. The scones were light and crumbly, with a hint of lemon flavour to freshen our palates. We tried them with a combination of the jam, preserves, and cream, and each bite was amazing. After demolishing the scones and pouring ourselves some more tea, we were on to the adorable petit fours. Although we were getting full, we decided it would be a waste not to finish them, because they looked so good. They were also mini, so splitting them in half isn’t so unhealthy right?

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Our petit fours consisted of a red velvet cupcake, tirimisu with a chocolate coated coffee bean, a lemon meringue tart, and a chocolate mousse cup. We split each in half and indulged. At this point we were not counting calories! The red velvet cupcake was not overwhelmingly sweet, which was nice. It was moist and had just the right amount of cream cheese icing. The tirimisu had a nice coffee flavour. The lemon meringue was a nice hint of tartness amongst the more sweet desserts. This is possibly why it was my least favourite. The chocolate mousse cup was very rich, and the cup was actually made of chocolate, which was a nice bonus. It is definitely made for a chocolate lover. I would say my favourites were the cupcake and tirimisu as they were both sweet yet well-balanced.

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Finally, as we were full of tea and delicious food, our server brought the last course (which I had forgotten about after reading the menu a million times), which was a sparkling raspberry sorbet. We couldn’t say no, despite our pants becoming a slight bit tight at this point. It ended up being a refreshing end to a great afternoon and the perfect palate cleanser. Overall, the service was great, and the tea and food were delicious. My mom and I had a great time at afternoon tea, perhaps starting a mother-daughter tradition that will last a long time.

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The Golden Rule: Make reservations for tea as it tends to get booked up in advance. Although the food is miniature for the most part, definitely eat lightly before you go, as you will be full when you leave. This is a great idea for showers, birthdays, or just hanging with your friends. And ladies, always keep those pinkies up!

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