An atypical sunday afternoon for me as I decidedly replaced brunch with high tea at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto. Between choices, I called up both the Ritz-Carlton and Shangri-la (close alternatives in the downtown core). However, services at both of these places were fully booked and left me to journey a very short distance into the Fairmont just up the street. (In fact I see its entirety right from my windows).
Located in the Library bar, one of several restaurants at the Fairmont Royal York, I was enchanted with an afternoon of scrumptious pastries, heavenly teas and an unexpected historical tour of the hotel.
Tea: Highly recommend the watermelon oolong tea. With just a dash sugar and nothing else, the taste is incredible. A simple sip lends to a light but then sweet taste that changes in your mouth with a hint of watermelon. A giant smile spread across my face after my first taste of it and I must have had 3 or 4 more cups throughout the session. I also had the Kyoto Rose Tea which smells heavenly as if crushed pink roses were beneath your nose. However, the tea is not as strong in flavour as fruity teas.
Food: An assortment of 4 tiny sandwiches packed with flavour. Each lending itself to a different sensation, from refreshing cucumber and watercress salad sandwich to to the creamy Lobster mango bun. The smoked salmon sandwich and lobster mango sliders were my top favs.
Then the pastries. We could hardly finish! 3 layers in the Victorian style. Beautiful swans filled with Chantilly cream were as delicious as they looked and fluffy as the swan feathers. My favorite is the Chocolate Truffle flourless cake. Not only does it look like it belongs in the best French Patisserie but also tasted like a GIANT Truffle. Endless Chocolate. Love the UNIQUE PRESENTATIONS. The macarons were also delicious and the presentation of the white chocolate covered cheese cake lollipops were phenomenal. My eyes probably glowed like a kid in a candy shop!
Full Menu here.
Decor: Lavish, 1930s, dark room lit with lamps around and very comfortable armchairs.
Tour (offered 3 times a day to tea guests): From the lobby to the Imperial Room to the kitchen and Executive 19th floor. A brief 20 minutes tour that leaves you feeling the history of Toronto if not like you have stepped into a time machine back 70 years.
Fun facts: 1) The Imperial Room used to be the best night Clubs in the ’40s, hosting Tina Turner and a sleuth of other famous musicians.
2) The Royal York used to be a mini-city within downtown with a golf course on the street below, a giant library among other cool city essentials.
3) The kitchen is the largest hotel kitchen in Canada, the length of a football field and can serve up to 10,000 guests at a time.
4) Generations of Royalty including the Queen has stayed, with an entire floor, the royal suite dedicated to her.
When I come back again in the summer, I’ll be sure to check out the rooftop garden with the honey bees.