Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Review: Afternoon Tea at Empress Hotel, Victoria BC

Seemingly one of the most famous afternoon tea locations is at Empress Hotel in Victoria. I was there with a few girlfriends for a couple days and interesting enough, no bakery around downtown Victoria that serves afternoon open on Sunday and Monday. Would Sunday not be the most busiest day of the week? 

While Fairmont may be famous for its afternoon tea i'm sure they're also famous for charging extravagant prices. At $59.99, I only went because their competition was closed for the day. 

We ordered 4 sets of afternoon tea, although it looks small in portions we were very much full at the end. 

The server was extremely polite to us. Being slightly rowdy and also taking pictures constantly of our food for the first portion did not seem change her attitude. She even embraced herself in our activities and asked if we needed group photos. 

We ordered the Empress Blend, Margarets Hope, Jasmine Butterfly and Kea Lani Orange Pineapple. Have to say that all the teas tasted very similar except for Orange Pineapple. The varieties were limited to only 8, which was somewhat disappointing. 

Fresh Strawberries with Clotted Cream
A very basic starter and the only fairmont out of all the ones i've been to that serve this. It's nice to have some fruit with the meal, however, for the price, I was expecting a little more than just cut strawberries with cream. 

Bottom Tier
A good selection of savory sandwiches including:

Smoked Salmon Pinwheel
Mango and Curried Chicken 
Cucumber and Horseradish 
Free Range Egg Salad Croissant 
Traditional Pork Paté on Crostini 
The flavours are good. Nothing was poor, nothing was great. Fairly average. Pardon me for not writing more but there really isn't much to say. Typical items for afternoon tea. 

Middle Tier
I had heard the scones at the Empress is the same as the Fairmont at Hotel Vancouver. Can't remember exactly how the one in Vancouver tasted like but this one was soft, thick and slightly dry in the middle. I always like my scones warm and this one was not. Half of us did not finish.

Top Tier
Chocolate Sable
Lemon Meringue Tart
Checkered cake and not sure what the yellow rectangular cake was

- The Chocolate Sable was good. Tender and flakey. 
- Lemon tart was also very good. The crust tasted extremely fresh and the curd was just the right sweetness. Meringue tasted like light fluffy marshmallows. 
- The flavours of macarons were random. On my side there was lemon and chocolate. On my girlfriends tier was raspberry and a flavour we couldn't make out. Good texture but it was VERY sweet. They definitely could've gone without dipping the bottom in chocolate. 
- Checker cake was good. The Marzipan around it was not. Too sweet and thick. Also an unappetizing pink color. 
- This mystery yellow rectangular cake was the best of all. This mixture that seemed like mousse with an unknown fruit. Cake like bottom. Super creamy and the fruit gave the pastry a good mouthfeel at the end.

The experience at the empress was great! The service, ambience was extremely enjoyable and I recommend anyone visiting Victoria to try. I do personally feel however the meal was way overpriced for what I received. 

If I do ever return to Victoria I don't believe I will visit the Empress for Afternoon tea. I'd definitely like to try the other bakery outlets !
Fairmont Empress (high tea) on Urbanspoon


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