This is the season when we are all trying to make plans with friends, family and co-workers. I’m getting inundated with people asking me where they should go for some good cheer and honestly, I love it! Depending on what you’re after, there’s definitely something to please every palate (and budget) in our city. We’re very fortunate for that! For the holiday season, I like to seek out places that offer something extra-special as well as an experience.
If an afternoon of a soothing and relaxing High Tea sound dreamy, then the Shangri-La Hotel is worth a visit. Held daily throughout the holiday season in their Lobby Lounge, the High Tea is luxurious and very special. To enjoy the festive season, the hotel features a Nutcracker ballet inspired High Tea perfect for adults and children alike. Yes, kids are welcomed!
You’ll want to make reservations as High Tea is one of the most cherished times for get togethers this time of year. If your party has 4 to 6 people then I would strongly suggest requesting one of the tables situated in front of the fireplaces.
You have a choice of tea from their menu of over 80 types of tea leaves exclusive to the Shangri-La Hotel. If you’re not sure what to have then feel free to ask for recommendations. My young son chose “Living Well” – a black tea that had a peachy notes while I chose a delicious pot of my favourite (and their version of) Earl Grey Creme that I happily enjoyed the entire afternoon and it didn’t seem to get bitter even after two hours of steeping and top ups.
In traditional High Tea form, a three-tiered tray is brought to the table with all the goodies created by the in-house expert patisseries. You’ll find a nice assortment of savoury sandwiches include of Atlantic lobster, moist roasted turkey, truffle poached egg salad and honey baked ham. On another tier you’ll enjoy warmed scones with hints of candied-ginger and Stollen with marzipan. The accompanying house-made berry preserves, clotted cream and honey that’s harvested from the hotel’s own Bee Wall, that’s located on the property, is a real treat!
The crowning jewels to the High Tea are the Nutcracker inspired pastries including the “Spanish Dance” dark chocolate cinnamon creamy (and dreamy) cremeux – almost like a mousse and rich in flavour; the “Arabian Dance” is a coffee and cardamom creme nestled in a date molasses cake that is finished off with a think phyllo honey crisp. The “Chinese Dance” is an updated east-meets-west style of jelly roll. Outer layer made with a green tea sponge cake wraps around the Imperial Dragonwell Tea creme and Mandarin Gelee with a hint of chestnut puree. The “Russian Dance” is a very pretty dessert made sweetened condensed milk mousse perched on a Russian style gingerbread topped with mini peppermint meringues.
Overall, the experience is beautiful and relaxing as you would expect from a luxury hotel with a few very thoughtful touches. The afternoon we were there, live piano music was softly playing in the background. This is a perfect way to take a break in between all the hustle and bustle that comes with the season. If they handed me a blanket, I probably would have curled up on the comfy couch and taken a nap. Yep! No one rushed us and it was very inviting. Maybe next time we’ll look into spending a night here… I heard they’ve just transformed one of their rooms into a “Winter Wonderland Suite” — sounds dreamy!
The Nutcracker Hight Tea is available right through to January 3rd, 2016 from 2pm to 5 pm daily. Price is $44 per person. There is also a children’s version of the High Tea for $22 per child with a slightly different variation on pastries that looks great.
Shangri-La Hotel is located at 188 University Avenue in Toronto.