Where to enjoy a ceremony that’s steeped in tradition. (Yup, we went there.)
1. The Windsor Arms
For the classic hotel tea service
This hotel has been pouring tea since 1927. Alongside a selection of 45 loose-leaf varieties, a snack tray bears petit fours, fluffy scones with preserves and Devon cream, and rolled sandwiches that look like sushi (take that, triangle!). Wasabi sour cream punches up smoked salmon, while cucumber is topped with sundried-tomato paste and dill cream cheese. “Using your hands is totally permitted,” says owner George Friedmann. “If you have a pinwheel sandwich that’s one-inch in diameter, don’t try to cut it in half.” Oh, and there are hats for rent—fancy ones. For $5, you can outfit your noggin for the afternoon, with the proceeds going to charity.
$38–$50 per person. 18 St. Thomas St., 416-971-9666. #YRK
2. The Red Tea Box
For something a little different
East meets Queen West at this teahouse, where, besides the traditional option, there’s a Southeast Asian–inspired meal that comes in a Bento box. At the moment, kefir-lime and mango-curd tartlets, a mini matcha cheesecake, and tiny, spiced salmon burgers are paired with green and oolong teas. “Tea is enjoyed all over the world,” says manager Mona Li. “It’s not just English afternoon tea.” Among the more popular blends, genmaicha, a nutty, traditional Japanese green tea, is mellowed with popped rice. And while hotels charge per head, two “tea-totallers” at this place can share the spread (and the cost).
$27–$30. 696 Queen St. W., 416-203-8882. #WQW
3. Kitten and the Bear
For fewer formalities and crazy big scones
This small-batch shop in Parkdale is more about food and drink than pomp and circumstance. Though they are jam-makers first, owners Sophie Kaftal and Bobby Zielinski rise early in the morning to start rolling in dough, because, as Kaftal says, “What better vehicle for jam than scones?” Their flaky, buttermilk behemoths are sold individually or as part of a jam sampler, served with a trio of preserves and clotted cream or farm-fresh butter. Seats are scarce, so take-out is encouraged: Locals can head home for breakfast in bed, while commuters can grab a scone before hopping on the crowded 501—slightly less elegant, but equally delicious.
$3–$9.95. 1574 Queen St. W., 647-926-9711. #PRK
4. DT Bistro
For your sweet tooth
You won’t find cucumber on crustless white bread here—instead, there are open-faced sandwiches on a crostini, and crabmeat spring rolls. Chef Donald Duong has made cakes for the Queen, the Pope, and the prime minister, so you’d be remiss to pass on his pastries, which include delicate macarons and domes of booze-infused mousse. The mini parfait looks deceptively like a topless soft-boiled egg, its edible shell made by dipping a small, inflated balloon in white chocolate. Once hardened, the empty cup is filled with a tart white-chocolate-and-passion-fruit mousse and berry compote that looks—but doesn’t taste—like yolk.
$18–$28 per person. 154 Harbord St., 416-916-8155. #ANX