Tea Experience: Laurence & Chico Cafe

Laurence & Chico Cafe
Vancouver, BC
Rabbit’s Foot High Tea – $49 each

I visited Laurence & Chico Cafe with a small group of friends, and a toddler, just last month. This cafe is full of fun and whimsy, which is also a reflection of the style of Laurence & Chico – a women’s fashion and accessories brand created by Laurence Li and Chico Wang. The location is on Bute Street, a traffic-calmed area right off of Robson Street as the road is taken up by cafe tables and chairs, and is very bicycle-friendly. Laurence & Chico is also conveniently located directly across from Breka Bakery & Cafe, which is open 24/7 (in case you’re ever in the need for baked goods at 3am).

The Cafe portion is in two parts – one is the sit-down area, which Laurence & Chico refer to as their Afternoon Tea Salon Room, with fabulously fluffy and fringed chairs with glass-topped tables that are held up by tentacles. The chairs are stuck in place, as far as I could tell, so individuals with mobility issues may have issues getting into the chairs or being comfortable around the tables. There were some stand-alone stools. Unfortunately for my tiny toddler friend, there were no high chairs available which did not make for a very child-friendly experience.  The other part was a glass-topped bar with stools, and à la carte baked goods case for those who wanted to order something to go – appropriately referred to as their To-Go section. Their to-go cup and boxes were pink and stylized accordingly with their brand.

Read More …

Tea Experience: The Secret Garden Tea Company

The Secret Garden Tea Company
Kerrisdale, Vancouver, BC
High Tea – $35 each

I recently went to High Tea at The Secret Garden Tea Company, which is located in the Kerrisdale neighbourhood of Vancouver, BC. This lovely location boasts both of a shop section and a dining section, with seasoning high tea menus that change every couple of months. I went in March 2019, so the food selection is different now. There are also vegan and gluten-free high tea options, at $40 per person, as well as a children’s menu at $25 per person.

Both my friend and I selected different teas  – we each got our own teapot that came nestled in a tea cosy that had The Secret Garden Tea Company’s logo and name embroidered on it. The place settings were tea cups and saucers that differed from each person, which added a sense of whimsy to it. The sugar cubes came in a tea cup with a pair of silver tongs – which I found to be just darling.

For our tea selections, there was an extensive list of variations of Earl Grey, along with some non-Earl Grey tea choices.My friend opted for the Organic Creamy Earl Grey (black tea, bergamot, vanilla), which she told me was delicious. I had the Lavender Earl Grey (black tea, lavender from Provence, France, cornflower petals, and natural flavouring) because I’m just all about the lavender these days.

The food arrived in a three-tier stand. The bottom being savouries, then the scones, and finally dessert.

For the savouries, we had the Secret Garden Egg Pinwheels, Chicken Caesar Sandwiches on Butter Biscuits, and the New York Pastrami and Avocado on Mini Croissants. I found the Egg Pinwheels to be a bit low on flavour, I think it might have been better with some pepper. The open-faced Chicken Caesar Sandwiches on Butter Biscuits had some great flavours, but I think the star of this tier would have to be the New York Pastrami and Avocado on Mini Croissants. Mostly because the kitchen selected some perfectly ripe avocado to go into those delicious little sandwiches, the balance between the pastrami and the other ingredients was just perfect. I felt that the savoury tier was quite generous – for each of us there were 3 Pinwheels, 2 Butter Biscuits, and 2 Mini Croissants.

The scones tier was quite fun. There was the Petite Fruit Scone, which was paired with the Raspberry Jam and Devonshire Cream, and a Savoury Chedder Cheese and Chive Scone. I thought that the Petite Fruit Scone was delicious with the sugar crystals baked into the top. But my favourite would have to be the Savoury Cheddar Cheese and Chive Scone. It was heavenly and I’m still surprised at the fact that I enjoyed it more than the sweet option since I’m normally all about the sweets.

Finally – the sweets! There was the Tangy Mini Lemon Tart – I had this one first and was a bit let down by it. I’m a huge fan of lemon curd, but I found that the ratio of lemon curd to tart crust was just a little bit off for me. I think a thinner crust would have suited me better, but that’s one non-foodie’s opinion! Then there was the Chocolate Coconut and Mandarin Roulade Cake which I found to be rich and delicious. The toasted coconut on the outside provided a light crunch, while the chocolate cake was just oh-so-rich. I definitely made happy noises when eating it because it was just that good. Last, but not least, was the Maple Pie with Vanilla Chantilly Cream. While I was a little bit confused by the blue-grey colour of the vanilla chantilly cream, the Maple Pie itself was tasty. It had a great maple flavour without being overly sweet, which is probably no easy feat since maple syrup is practically pure sugar. My favourites from the sweets tier would have to be the Roulade Cake and the Maple Pie.

I had a wonderful time at The Secret Garden Tea Company, and I can see why it’s a favourite for afternoon tea in Kerrisdale. Their branding is on-point and well represented throughout the darling shop and dining area, and I love the fact that they offer seasonal menus to change it up and allow patrons to read over the varying menus on their website. The service from the ladies working at The Secret Garden Tea Company on the Monday that my friend and I went was top notch – starting from the hostess who greeted us at the door to the knowledgeable server who was able to offer her thoughts on the different Earl Grey options. It’s a lovely spot in Kerrisdale to go in for tea, and they even offer High Tea daily at three different serving times! I would definitely go back for tea the next time that I’m in the neighbourhood.

Tea Experience: Tracycakes Bakery Cafe

Tracycakes Bakery Cafe
Murrayville, Langley, BC
Signature High Tea – $25 each

I recently had the opportunity to have the Signature High Tea at Tracycakes Bakery Cafe, located in Murrayville, Langley. There is also another location of Tracycakes, which is located in Abbotsford, BC. Tracycakes is located in a quaint little building at 5 corners, which is a 5-way intersection with a roundabout in Langley, BC. The intersection is historic, with some of the buildings lovingly kept up for over 130 years.

Inside of Tracycakes, there’s cute table settings on each of the marble topped tables, with chalk artwork throughout. Copies of newsarticles about Tracycakes adorn the walls, with a long, comfy benchseat along one wall. There’s meal options, along with the Signature High Tea, on the menu – and you can also order food to-go. The dishes for our table settings were white and stood out nicely against the white and grey marble table top.

My friend and I both ordered the Signature High Tea, which came with a top of tea for each of us – she had the Cream of Earl Grey while I had the Earl Grey Lavender. Both of which are black teas and quite traditional for afternoon tea. There was also sugar bowls on the table with silver tongs, and a miniature pitcher of milk. The lavender aroma from the Earl Grey Lavender stood out quite nicely.

And then there was the food! There were two tiers -sandwiches and savouries on the bottom with the pastries and sweets on the top.

For the sandwiches, we each received a quarter-sandwich of egg salad, cucumber, tomato & basil, and turkey & cranberry. What I found interesting was that the egg salad had white bread on one side and whole wheat on the other, although it didn’t really affect the taste too much. My favourite of the four sandwich offerings was the tomato and basil because the basil was just so flavourful.

With the savouries was also a savoury palmier, which consisted of basil and cheese. This was really nice, had a nice crisp to it with a nice salty quality to it, thanks to the cheese.

And now… the sweets! Starting with the confectioner sugar dusted scone, the scone was loaded with poppyseed and cranberry. The cranberries themselves were a touch tart, but it balanced well with the sweetness of the confectioners sugar. To pair with the scone, Tracycakes included devonshire cream, raspberry jam, and lemon curd. I opted to pair my scone with devonshire cream and raspberry jam since I decided the lemon curd may be a bit much with the cranberries in the scone.

We each got a brownie square, which I found to be very sweet with the icing on top. For someone who loves sugar, I was just not feeling it that morning. There was also a variety of cupcakes. One of them was vanilla and coconut, while another was vanilla and lavender. My friend had the lavender cupcake but said she couldn’t really taste the lavender. I found the coconut one to be very rich in flavour for both the frosting and the cake itself, it was really tasty and I would go back for a cupcake.

There was a small triangle cookie, which I believe to have been a sugar cookie. Also had icing on top, very sweet – but had a great buttery flavour to it and was flakey, so I definitely enjoyed that cookie and it was one of my favourites of the sweets tier.

Throughout both tiers, we had some fresh fruit (primarily sliced strawberries, with a couple of blueberries), which was nice considering it can be hard to find nice fresh fruit with the current season. I really liked Tracycakes’ creative use of egg cups as containers to hold the lemon curd and one of the cupcakes, it just really added another level of whimsy to it.

Tracycakes wasn’t too busy when my friend and I first arrived, but the cafe was quite bustling with activity by the time we had left – with plenty of reserved signs on tables for people wanting their own high tea on a Wednesday. I really enjoyed the variety in food that was offered with the Signature High Tea, and found that the flavours were overall enjoyable. I really did like my tea selection (Earl Grey Lavender), and found that it worked well with a little bit of sugar and milk – although the lavender flavour and aroma was quite strong without any additives as well. For the price, I definitely think that Tracycakes puts on a good Signature High Tea and would go again. It seemed like quite a child-friendly location – there were a few tables that had babies and young children – so it’s an option for those who maybe don’t want to take their kids to a location with a lot of vintage tea cups everywhere.