Part of a girls’ day out, I took Mom to the Castle – Fairmont Hotel Vancouver – for its famous Afternoon Tea. Thanks to a 2-for-1 deal coupon, it only cost me half of the original price. Even though each Fairmont property offers afternoon tea service, prices vary from one to another. At Fairmont Vancouver, it is $36 per person (plus tax and gratuity).
Traditionally, high tea/afternoon tea is usually a light meal between lunch and dinner, to get you through the afternoon. The tea menu at Fairmont Vancouver actually has a decent amount of food per person, so we made it a lunch date for a Saturday afternoon.
Boy, was it busy. It was around 12:30pm and our table was the last couple ones left to be seated. In fact, shortly after we were seated, we saw people wait by the door for the next available table.
Each table receives a fancy tower full of finger sandwiches and sweet pastries, which is pre-set and changes from time to time based on seasonal availability. But you get to choose your tea. The best part is, each person gets their own pot of tea, so you can order different kinds and you don’t have to worry about sharing a particular kind. Everything is served on fine china and silver teapot and cutlery.
It was an extensive tea menu. I’d say there were around 20 kinds to choose from, black, green, white and herbal teas. I ordered Lavender Earl Grey, which was very fragrant – you could smell the scent of lavender as you pour the tea, and you could taste it too. Mom picked Royal Bengal Tiger, which is a black tea with hints of mango and passion fruit. A very fruity tea, we highly recommend it!
As for the sandwiches and pastries, it was pretty exciting when the tower arrived at our table. There was a good variety. For savoury sandwiches, we’ve got the following:
- Ham & Brie in Croissant
- Curry Chicken on Baguette
- Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Roll
- Cucumber & Watercress on Wholewheat Bread
The flavours were all very good, although some are lighter than the other. The croissant was probably the richest of all (and a bit greasy thanks to the melted brie), so I’d leave it last to eat, and start with the cucumber & watercress sandwich. I do like that all sandwiches are two-bite size, just enough of savoury items before we moved on to the sweets.
Surprisingly there were more sweets than savoury. The selection seems to vary a lot judging by what I saw in other bloggers’ posts. Here’s what we got:
- Fresh Baked Raisin Scones, Served with Devonshire Clotted Cream
- Lemon Meringue Tarts
- Mini Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes
- White Chocolate Cream Filled Eclairs
- Fresh Strawberries
In my opinion there were too many scones (2 per person), which became quite filling especially after eating 4 types of finger sandwiches. However, the scones were light and buttery, and worked super well with the strawberry jam (wish they would make their own jam!). The mini cupcakes were chocolaty and not too dense. I would prefer the eclairs to be milk or dark chocolate covered, as I’m not a huge white chocolate fan. The lemon meringue tart was a bit disappointing since I could taste the sugar in the meringue; it wasn’t whipped very well.
At the end, we felt that it was just the right amount of food for lunch. However, we noticed many people packed away most, if not all, of the sweets to go. Perhaps they came here after lunch so they couldn’t finish it all. Or my mom and I just eat a lot. I sure hope it’s the former!
Even though we used a deal coupon, we didn’t get the look of “you guys are cheap!” from the servers. In fact, I found the host and servers to be very friendly and welcoming. Our server was nice enough to offer to take pictures for us, as soon as we sat down and I started playing with my camera; however she waited until the tea tower arrived so we got a beautiful mom & daughter picture together.
Looking around the restaurant, afternoon tea is a perfect get-together for moms & daughters, girlfriends, or couples of any age. Tea at the Castle isn’t necessarily all about the food, but also the experience, the conversations that take place over tea and snacks. Fairmont Hotel Vancouver has 123 years of history (the original hotel was opened in 1888!), even the current hotel has been standing since 1939, so it just feels quite special dining at this historical building.
900 West Lounge (at Fairmont Hotel)
900 W Georgia Street, Vancouver