At the beginning of last month I had a new roommate move in with me. We’re going to call her Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty has a pretty interesting background. She’s originally from Madagascar, where she completed her masters degree in Economics. Since she’s fluent in French, she then decided to move to Quebec to complete her PhD. She’s now living in Vancouver, and working as a post doc. Impressive, non?
Well, despite having lived in multiple cities and countries, Sleeping Beauty had never been for high tea. So when my mom suggested that the three of us visit Adorabelle Tea Room in Steveston, Sleeping Beauty jumped at the chance to finally experience what high tea was all about. We made reservations for 12:30 on a weekend, and were surprised to find an empty room when we arrived. Although a couple of more tables filled up during our stay, the restaurant remained fairly empty. This surprised me, since I’d heard that the tea room was fairly popular. Nevertheless, the room was warm and cozy, with pink walls, white furniture, and a ceiling made to look like the sky.
Adult High Tea – $30
As part of our high tea, we were each given our own mini pot of the tea of our choice. I had told Sleeping Beauty to expect a large menu with dozens of choices, so we were both surprised to discover that the tea menu at Adorabelle is actually quite short with only about ten or so teas to choose from. Nonetheless, all three of us wound up selecting the Creamy Earl Grey. The tea was similar in flavour to regular Earl Grey, but with stronger notes of vanilla and a smoother finish. Raw sugar and cream were placed on the table, and the server also brought over honey when my mom asked. Although one pot of tea was plenty for me, the servers were efficient at coming by and topping up the teapot with hot water when it started running low.
Egg Salad Pinwheel, Chicken Waldorf Sandwich, Cucumber Cream Cheese Sandwich, Smoked Salmon and Dill on a Savoury Scone, Asiago Fennel Shortbread, and Bacon Chive Cupcake with Savoury Cream Cheese Icing (Clockwise from Left)
My favorite part of high tea is always the savouries on the bottom tier, which I eagerly dug into. The favorite of everyone at the table was the Smoked Salmon and Dill on a Savoury Scone. Chunks of smoked salmon were used rather than gravlax, and only cream cheese and a hint of dill were paired with it so as not to distract from its rich flavour. The savoury scone was herb flavoured and relatively moist, providing a little more of a textural contrast than if white bread had been used. Another favorite was the Asiago Fennel Shortbread. Not only did the shortbread have the expected buttery, crumbly texture, but the savoury flavours really came through. The asiago could be tasted in every bite of the cookie, while the fennel flavour came mostly from the baked fennel seeds sprinkled atop. Since these crisped up in the oven, they also provided a nice crunch to contrast the more crumbly cookie.
The rest of the savouries were quite good, but less unique. The egg salad in the Egg Salad Pinwheel was creamy with just the right amount of sharpness from the green onions. The Chicken Waldorf Sandwich hit the right balance of savoury and sweet with its combination of meat and fruit. The Cucumber Sandwich was good, if perhaps a little boring. It’s also worth mentioning that the bread used for all the sandwiches was very moist and fresh (there’s nothing worse than tea sandwiches made with stale bread). I wound up being rather indifferent to the Bacon Chive Cupcake with Savoury Cream Cheese Icing. The cupcake was neither moist nor dry, and the bacon chive flavour was on the subtle side. The cream cheese frosting atop sort of threw me off, as it wasn’t sweet, but it also wasn’t really savoury. I think a nice herb flavoured frosting would work better.
Vanilla Bean Scones and Orange Glazed Scones
The second tier featured two scones each accompanied with devonshire cream and homemade strawberry preserves. The first was their Vanilla Bean Scone dusted with powdered sugar. Since I enjoy simple flavours in my scones, this was my favorite of the two. The scones had a relatively moist, biscuit-like texture, that was the perfect canvass for a dab of the indulgent cream. The Orange Glazed Scone appeared to be the same as the vanilla bean scone, but with an orange glaze on the top, giving it a sweeter, more tart flavour.
Coconut Meringue, Strawberry with Cream, Mandarin Cream Cheese Tart, and Earl Grey Tea Shortbread (clockwise from left)
The last tier consisted of a selection of desserts. Although I was expecting for the Earl Grey Tea Shortbread to be my favorite, I was disappointed in its muted flavour. Instead, my favorite wound up being the Strawberry with Cream, because of its freshness and simplicity at the end of a filling meal. The Coconut Meringue had plenty of freshly grated coconut, but it was its appealing chew that really set it apart. The least favorite dessert, and the only one to be left half eaten on our plates, was the Mandarin Cream Cheese Tart. It was just bland. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but even I thought it needed to be sweeter. It was the only blip in an otherwise delicious high tea.
Overall I enjoyed my experience at Adorabelle Tea Room. There were one or two meh items, but other than that the quality of the food was definitely better than what you find at many other tea rooms – the savouries in particular (surprisingly many places fail at tea sandwiches). I also felt that the portion was quite fair for $30. It may not look like much food, but I was the only one at the table that was able to finish my entire portion (and it was a bit of a struggle). If you’re in Richmond and looking for a pleasant high tea experience, I would definitely suggest checking it out.