Juxtapositions are always good. That’s why in one weekend, I visited the glittering sophistication of Faubourg‘s high tea experience, followed up by the grungy hunger-driven visit to Cannibal Cafe. Thanks to Sweet Tooth miniclub for the invite!
Faubourg High Tea: for piano jazz, mini-submarines of alfalfa, and table chuckles
I’d only been to high tea once or twice before this experience, so I’m still fairly a noob. It seems that in high tea, simplicity and elegance is key. The food at Faubourg was minimal, but the craft going into the food was significant.
Atmo: OK + NICE PAINTINGS
The theme of elegance pervaded the entire atmosphere. The space in Faubourg devoted to high tea was ribboned off. So, instead of sitting in the front cafe section munching at cookies and coffee, you actually sit down in a separate section and get menus placed in front of you. The place was adequately comfortable, I think, but just a bit too small. It didn’t help that it was raining that day and I had a backpack, camera bag, and an umbrella.
Food: GOOD. Pana cotta: AWESOME
What happens is you pick four savoury items and four sweet items and have scones and your choice of tea to go with it. I picked the smoked salmon croissant, vegetarian sandwich, verrine (beef bourguignon), and chicken sandwich as my savoury items. For dessert I picked the dark chocolate spiced brownie, raspberry financier, pistachio matcha lime tart, and vanilla pomegranate panna cotta. Everyone got an individual souffle baked when we were ready, and I had good ol’ fashioned English Breakfast on the side.
Food was served two-tiered, with real estate shared between you and your opposite-seat mate, like this:
The verrine was warm and comforting, with a hint of bitterness from the alcohol used to make it. The taste was complex, but the texture could be a little less tough, in my opinion. The scones were lovely and went well with the vanilla bean cream (such a fine little detail! I didn’t notice there was vanilla bean until one of our members spotted it). The chicken sandwich was very buttery, with a big bread-to-chicken ratio. That’s fine, because the vegetarian sandwich to follow was quite a pretty sight. I mean:
It was avocado and alfalfa, very buttery, but a little too salty. The smoked salmon was very good – flaky, well-textured – and the saltiness of the smoked salmon was nicely cut back by the neutral fluffiness of the croissant (yes, it was fluffy).
They mixed up my order and brought me fruit pavlova instead of my raspberry financier. No worries, they let me keep the pavlova and got me the financier toute suite. The financier was my second-favourite dessert: warm, buttery, comforting, sugary, just very “feel-good,” you know? It’s a good classic to have. The brownie I have mixed feelings about. It had a mostly fudgy texture, and I found the spice a bit too overwhelming (I’m not sure what it is, maybe cinnamon – or nutmeg, as suggested by my opposite-seat mate?). I’m not a big fan of spiciness (spice cuts away the taste of everything else for me), so I quickly moved on to the pistachio matcha lime tart. I’m a fan of all things green, so this was a good treat overall, but I’m not sure I entirely approve of the pistachio + matcha marriage. Yes, they’re both green, but their personalities don’t match perfectly, in my humble opinion.
But, oh my god, the panna cotta was amaaaaaazing. It was basically raspberry creamy pudding goodness all wrapped together in a white chocolate cup. Gorgeous!
Right, and I can’t forget the tea. They give us a row of the stuff to sniff at before we order.
We were the only table for most of the afternoon so service was pretty quick and friendly. Perhaps the space was small, but I was very aware of the waiter always standing there at the same place right behind our table
The meal cost $28.55 and, to be honest, it didn’t fill me up to fully qualify as a “meal” for me. I know you’re paying for the entire experience, but it still seems a bit much for the amount of food we received. Plus, if you share with someone, you’re charged an extra $5 “sharing fee.” I have never ever heard of such a thing until now.
Overall, I would say this was a positive experience, albeit an expensive one. If you want a classy treat or want a really good side dish to go with your conversations, by all means, do high tea. However, it really is a big splurge for most of us students, and I straddle on the fence on whether or not the quality was really worth the price.
To fulfill the HT experience, it also kinda helps to dress the part. Many of our members got the right idea: blazers and blouses represent. Also, be aware of your table manners and food handling skills. We were all granted a few laughs when a member had trouble transporting his tiny food from the shelf to his plate in one piece. It was cute.
NEXT UP: Cannibal Cafe for pub rock, Ace Ventura, mason jars, and meat-drizzled poutine
Pro photography by Jinwook Lee; crappy amateur photography by the author.