Paramount Afternoon Tea – London

IMG_8558

I was only in London for two days, which really isn’t a lot. Everyone stayed an extra day, but I had to make my way back home to Vancouver! So on my last day, we set out to finish all the tourist spots! First was the Buckingham Palace. When we got there, we actually caught these men on the horses. Not exactly sure what the purpose of them were though. I believe it’s something to do with the Queen’s Life Guard.

IMG_8561

The Buckingham Palace is the official residence and workplace of the monarchy of the UK. I actually didn’t think the palace was that impressive. After seeing the ones in France, like the Versailles Palace, the one in London really doesn’t seem as luxurious. I was imagining some fancy, magnificent building!

IMG_8564

If you look closely, you’ll see the guards in grey. Changing of the Guard happens at 11:30 am daily, but from August to April, it occurs on alternate days. Unfortunately, on the day we were here, it was one of the days which the ceremony was not happening.

IMG_8566

We then made our way to Winter Wonderland. Winter Wonderland is hosted at Hyde Park. It’s basically like a PNE for Vancouver, but at a greater scale. With rides, markets, an ice rink, restaurants, and many other activities. Hyde Park itself is one of the largest parks in London. It’s also a Royal Park!

IMG_8567

They also featured a Magical Ice Kingdom, where there were ice sculptures. We found the admission a little pricey, so we skipped it. Regardless, just walking through the park is lots of fun since it’s really festive and entry to walk around is free! I would imagine that at night, the wonderland is even more amazing with the lights on.

IMG_8569

If you continue walking through Hyde Park, you’ll end up at Kensington Palace. Do keep in mind that Hyde Park is quite big, so you’ll walk for quite some time, but it’s quite relaxing and a nice stroll. The palace was the residence of the British Royal Family beginning in the 17th century and is now the official residence in London for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and many others. Again, you need to pay for admission to visit the state rooms, but we were not too interested in it. I personally would skip this attraction if I was tight on time.

IMG_8687

And then I came upon this window display! Love this picture just because my two favourite British icons are in it – Paddington Bear and Mr. Bean! I used to watch these two on TV as a child!

IMG_8582

For the afternoon, we had made reservations for afternoon tea at Paramount, which is situated at the 37th level of the building. You get a 360 degree view of London. Unfortunately, we weren’t seated by the window. That sort of took away our whole experience. Afternoon tea is pretty pricey in London – much more than Vancouver in fact. Around the holidays, most of them are also fully booked, so you need to reserve well in advance! The inside is pretty fancy, sort of like a hotel restaurant setting. It’d probably be smart not to show up in your gym clothes, but it’s still relatively casual where you can wear jeans. Many people were just having a late lunch or a snack with drinks, so their menu is not just solely for afternoon tea.

IMG_8572

Earl Grey, Sri Lanka

The afternoon tea set it pretty much set and costs £28, which includes a choice of tea. I find that pretty expensive since we can get afternoon tea for CAN$28! For my choice of tea, I chose the Earl Grey, since I was feeling something more classic. It was a really good Earl Grey, with a Ceylon tea base and a hint of citrus flavour. I found it odd how they didn’t offer me any milk or cream though. The pot is also relatively small, so you don’t get a lot in one brew. I also found it annoying how they didn’t ask if we needed more hot water. We were the ones who had to ask for it, and it took forever to come. I wouldn’t say the service was that great.

IMG_8575

Here we have some clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam. Also in the back, we have some brown and white sugar cubes.

IMG_8576

This was the bottom layer. All savouries, and also a layer I enjoyed the most. It included Smoked Salmon and White Cheese on Rye Pumpernickel, Dry Cured Ham with Piccalilli on Sour Dough, Free Range Boiled Egg with Grain Mustard, Mayonnaise & Cress on Toasted Brioche, Poached Chicken with Spring Onion Mayonnaise on Multi Gran Loaf, and Quiche of the Day. I enjoyed all of them except for the Quiche of the Day. I believe there was goat cheese in it, and it was too strong for my liking.

IMG_8577

The middle layer were the desserts. It included a Baked Cheesecake with Rosemary Infused Blueberry, which was my favourite. It was so light and fluffy! There was also Chocolate Battenberg Cake, a Creme Brulee like dessert with caramel at the bottom, a raspberry cake, and cinnamon donuts.

IMG_8578

At the top of the tier were warm Handmade Raisin & Plain Scones. I’m not a huge fan of scones just because I find they’re too dense. You get pretty full from this set, so I could barely finish my scones by the end of the meal.

IMG_8579

And this was the afternoon tea set. This tray consisted of two sets.

IMG_8580

And here was our table! It was pretty cramped though. They should’ve given us a larger table, knowing that we were here for afternoon tea. I find that their service is just lacking. You don’t really get checked up on unless you wave down your server.

IMG_8583

But near the evening, you get a beautiful view of London. It’s a shame we weren’t seated by the window. I had to get up to take this picture. But regardless, I think it’s safe to say that it’s a must to take some time out of your busy travels to relax and have a traditional afternoon tea in London!

Paramount on Urbanspoon

Teacup Kitchen – Manchester

IMG_7353

The next day, S and N took me around Manchester to do some sightseeing. There isn’t that much sightseeing though, and compared to other cities I’ve visited, I would say that the city is mostly locals. I felt sort of silly taking pictures and acting all touristy. One of the more significant attractions was the Manchester Cathedral which is a medieval church located in the city center. It’s a Gothic style church and has undergone restorations various times. The inside was being restored I think, so we weren’t able to go inside. Other than that, we just did some shopping at the huge Primark at Piccadilly Garden!

IMG_7374

After shopping, we met up with their friend C and we went to the Teacup Kitchen. They told me it was for afternoon tea…since we’re in the UK and you have to have a British-style afternoon tea! However, the Teacup Kitchen was quite different from what I had imagined. Most of the afternoon tea spots in Vancouver are all decked out and quiet, but Teacup Kitchen was more like a cafe and very casual.

IMG_7385

They offered a large variety of different cakes. It was more like a cake cafe where people could just lounge and chill here with tea and cakes. Some people were on laptops and working away. I actually really liked this casual environment and the waitress was extremely nice and friendly.

IMG_7377

Although I found most people ordering just a cake and a tea, or some of their lunch menu, which included sandwiches, we still went for the Teacup Special Afternoon Tea. This came with a choice of any loose leaf tea and a selection of savory and sweet snacks. It’s available from 2:30 pm. At first, we were each going to order a set, since that’s what normally happens in Vancouver, but our waitress was a little shocked and suggested us to just order 2 sets between the 4 of us. She said there was quite a lot of food, and good thing we stuck with her on that. However, each of us still got our own individual teapots. I chose the Blue Sky Earl Grey since it seemed to be the most British… The description was “a quality blend of black teas, infused with bergamot but then given a hugely aromatic boost of grapefruit”. I liked how the tea separator was on top of the pot, rather than inside, since it really avoided the tea leaves getting in the tea. They were also very attentive in providing us with hot water refills.

IMG_7379

This was one set of the Teacup Special Afternoon Tea. Instead of having the sweets at the top, like I normally see, they had the savory sandwiches at the top, then moved into some sweets in the middle, and then some sweeter cakes and scones at the bottom layer. This was beyond filling between two people. The only problem was it was a little difficult sharing some of the items.

IMG_7380

The top layer was filled with all savory items. It’s been a while, so I don’t remember exactly what each item was called. There were two Egg Salad Sandwiches, a Cheese Quiche, and a Sausage Roll. There was also this Cheese Twist type of pastry.

IMG_7381

The second layer was already filled with sweets. I believe the cupcake was a Flourless Chocolate Cake. It was a dark chocolate ganache and was gluten-free. Surprisingly not too sweet too. Next was a Lemon Meringue Tart. The pastry case was crisp and sweet, and was filled with lemon curd. On top, it had peaks of meringue. The last was a Flapjack. It was very dense and extremely healthy. It was made with rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, mixed fruit, cinnamon, crunchy pecans, and put together with honey and syrup. It was a little chewy but I really liked the texture and flavours.

IMG_7382

At the very bottom were the sweetest treats! The Hearty Scone is their famous classic English scone but with a twist. It’s baked in a heart shape! They slice it in half and fill it with a raspberry jam and clotted cream. I liked how the scone wasn’t as dense as the typical ones, and the top was crispy. The yellow baked good was a Lemon-Licious. Its a lemon sponge cake with a zesty flavour to it and topped with citrus icing and white chocolate curls. This one was a little too sweet for my liking. Lastly, it came with two mini Battenbergs. Battenberg cake is a light sponge cake and is covered with marzipan. When cut, they show a checkered pattern. This one was a red velvet and vanilla sponge cake.

By the end of our afternoon tea, we were thoroughly full even though we only ordered two sets. I can’t imagine having the whole set alone! I wish I could try some of their other cakes. It seemed like such a cool place to chill after school or on the weekend if the weather isn’t so great.

Teacup Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Patisserie Für Elise

IMG_3898

Patisserie Fur Elise is located in the Yaletown area, and you wouldn’t really even spot the place since it’s situated in an area that looks like residential area. I’m not sure what the houses next to it are used for, but it’s essentially at a Victorian-looking three story townhouse, and there is a row of these houses.

IMG_3899

When you step in, the right is the area for buying desserts to go. They have a variety of cakes, and of course macarons. The place is decorated with mini chandelier lights and gives a very girly and fresh feeling.

IMG_3900

For customers who would like to sit down for afternoon  tea, you must  make your way up to the second floor along this flight of stairs. I love how everything is like a fairytale!

IMG_3901

This was their window display on the first floor. Love how they have the Victorian-style dress, which the waitresses wore, and it’s like you’re at a tea party in the garden.

IMG_3903

On the second floor, this is where guests can enjoy their afternoon tea with grand furniture. It’s perfect to have a girl’s day out, and I believe you can even book the place to host parties. They have another seating area tucked away at the back, so there’s plenty of seats for you to choose from to have some quiet chats with your friends.

IMG_3907

They only have one afternoon tea menu with a pre-set menu and then a choice of tea. For $30, you get a choice of tea, a tier of savories, and a tier of sweets along with a Chef’s choice of a starter. I chose the Honey-Scented Tea, which is an award-winning black tea from Wuhe, Taiwan. It was described as rich and mellow, with a natural honey-like sweet aftertaste. I enjoyed it as it had a hint of honey flavour to it, but it wasn’t too sweet. J got the China Rose, which was a flavoured black tea with an aroma of roses. We peeked in her cute little teapot, and indeed there were rose petals. What’s unique is that they also give you a sand timer, and once it’s emptied to the bottom, it means your tea is ready. No need to guess how long we should wait. They also give you the cutest tea leaf strainer, which is shaped as a bird. The little details of their chinaware and furniture definitely wins a girl’s heart.

IMG_3908

Mandarin Creme Brulee

For the  Chef’s choice of starter, we were brought the Mandarin Creme Brulee. It’s got the creme brulee on the bottom, with a mandarin flavoured jelly on the top, topped with a slice of mandarin orange. At first, I thought it tasted a little odd, since I’ve never heard of a creme brulee with this fruit, but I started to enjoy it a few scoops in. The hint of tangyiness seemed to work with the sweet creme brulee. It was smooth and I enjoyed the jelly at the top.

IMG_3913

Afternoon Tea

Our two sets of afternoon teas were presented on two tiers, with the top as sweets and the bottom of savories. Each item was carefully crafted and presented and looked utterly adorable!

IMG_3911

A closer look at the savories… The sandwich was a Cucumber Dill Finger Sandwich, which was interesting since they didn’t put the cucumber between the slices of bread. Instead they placed it on top, and although it looked pretty, I had to dissect the sandwich and eat the cucumber on it’s own so it wouldn’t be too messy. To the right of the sandwich is the Prosciutto, Brie and Fresh Basil Sandwich. This was a mini croissant and I loved the combination of prosciutto and brie. The flavour from the fresh basil also complemented the sandwich really well. The hamburger look-alike was the Smoked Salmon Brioche. I found the brioche to be a little dry, so this one wasn’t one of my favourites. Lastly, there was the Bocconcini and Havarti Skewer. It’s got the two types of cheeses sandwiching a cherry tomato. I’m not a fan of tomatoes, so I didn’t exactly like this menu item, but I did enjoy the cheese. In the centre, there was the Scone served with a apricot house-made confiture. I’ve never been a big fan of scones since I find them too dry, so I can’t comment much on it.

IMG_3912

At the top of the tier were the desserts! This is always my favourite part. I’m also usually starting to get full at this point, but desserts are a must eat! I’ve always got room for some dessert… Anyways, the brown tart is an Orange Dulcey Daisy Tartlet, which had a hard tart shell at the bottom and the middle was a caramel type mixture and topped with a piece of pistachio. The green little square was a Mini Green Tea Chocolate Ganache with Red Beans. When I heard the name, I got extremely excited since I love green tea desserts. I think my expectations were set too high, because it ended up being quite disappointing. I found the texture to be too rubbery and the chocolate ganache just didn’t melt in my mouth. I was imagining some smooth chocolate just melting as I place it in my mouth, but that unfortunately didn’t happen. It was too sticky and gooey and stuck to your mouth. The pink dessert was a Mini Fur Elise, which is a strawberry mousse cake. I enjoyed this as it was light and not too sweet. And the white square was a Blueberry Cheesecake, although the menu said Lemon. It was a cheesecake square with a dented well in the middle and it was filled with some blueberry sauce so it would spill when you cut it in half. This was smooth and light as well. Delicious! And last but not least, we were a Macaron each, and I think I had the caramel one. It was decent, but definitely small in size. I think J has a lemon one.

To be honest, I felt that the service was lacking here. There were only two girls working, but it wasn’t that food was coming out slow. It was their attitude. They seemed so serious and didn’t really initiate much conversation, which I would’ve expected at an afternoon tea shop. They barely even smiled and I almost felt silly smiling back at them when they just had a serious look on their face. It kind of ruined the experience, but the menu items themselves were decent at an average price. What really makes up for everything is the awesome decor which isn’t found at many of the other afternoon tea shops. This one was unique and it made you feel special.

Patisserie Für Elise on Urbanspoon

Faubourg

Cakes

Savouries

Types of Teas

Vert Provence – A grand green tea with flowery aroma combined with tastes of Provence, red and black fruits plus sweet lavender

3 sets of Purple Afternoon Tea – choice of 2 sandwiches, 2 pastries, and a scone with cream and jam, and choice of tea

My Purple Afternoon Tea Set! – Mini Opera, Chocolate Mousse, Smoked Salmon and Wasabi Cream Sandwich, Cucumber, Roast Beef, and Corriander Cream Sandwich, Scone with Cream and Mandarin Orange Jam

Went to Faubourg a little late in the afternoon, so most of their pastries and savoury  items were already all sold out. We decided to have high tea, and they had a smaller set called the Purple Afternoon Tea for $16. We got to choose 2 sandwiches and 2 pastries, and it came with a scone and choice of tea. I have to say that service was quite terrible. We were served by a rude man who wasn’t very polite when we asked questions about the teas. He almost seemed impatient and didn’t want to serve us. Funny, since he was dressed in a dress shirt and all, and looked almost like a manager. He might’ve been, actually, but I don’t know. Food on the other hand was good, and everything was presented nicely. I extremely liked the Chocolate Mousse and the Smoked Salmon Roll. They also have another afternoon set for a slightly higher price, but it includes all the different pastries and sandwiches. I guess you have to go earlier if you want to try their full size pastries!

Faubourg on Urbanspoon

Adonia Teahouse

 Mini Afternoon Tea

I love the feeling of going to high tea. It’s like going back to childhood memories where you dressed up and had tea parties!  Afternoon tea is a great choice to get together with your bestie or a few girls to catch up and indulge in some tasty mini sweets and savouries, while taking a sip from your favourite tea. I’ve gone to both the Urban Tea Merchant and Secret Garden, but Adonia is the place where you will feel as though you are in a fairytale. Their decor is beyond exquisite and the chinaware are gorgeous with floral prints. Oh so girly! For just $17 a person, you can enjoy a Mini Afternoon Tea, which includes 7 pieces of mini sweets and savories accompanied by your choice of tea. If you want a larger assortment, then you can go for their Afternoon Tea f or $27 a person. Both are priced at a reasonable price, and the food is delicious!

Adonia Tea House on Urbanspoon