Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Hug Tea Tour - The King Edward Hotel

Like the rest of Toronto, I love the tradition of Sunday Afternoon Tea.  There’s nothing like relaxing with friends over scented teas, a plate of warm scones, and fine china to celebrate a special occasion. When the King Edward Hotel  invited us to sample their new spring tea menu, we jumped at the opportunity to dine like royalty.
Then & Now

The King Eddy isn’t your typical luxury hotel – built in 1903, it’s an Toronto icon saturated in history. Famous people who have stayed at the hotel include Mark Twain, Rudolph Valentino, Elvis Presley, Britney Spears, and Ernest Hemingway. One of the hotel’s most memorable moments was when the Beatles stayed in the royal suite in 1964 – causing 3,000 hysterical fans to swarm the lobby. 

Today, the King Edward Hotel is still a major Toronto attraction and heritage site, even if it’s undergoing a modern renovation of its guestrooms, lobby and Crystal Ballroom (brides take note!).

We arrived mid-afternoon at Victoria’s Restaurant, ready to feast on finger sandwiches and delicate pastries from the new spring tea menu. But first, we had to select a tea. There were 12 tea flavours, including the custom King Edward blend. I took a few minutes to inhale the rich aromas and contemplate my choice. I’ve dined at other venues for High Tea, but this is the first time the experience has included smelling each flavour before choosing a tea. And with so much selection, no wonder the hotel has been a favourite for 110 years. 

Next arrived a glorious tray of finger sandwiches with gourmet fillings: rare roast beef with port jelly, maple and grain mustard confit of salmon with tender leeks, egg salad with lemon and dill, wild mushroom brioche with herbed goat cheese, and curried chicken with mango chutney (my fave). 

After the savoury, we moved on to the sweets – two trays of fresh berries, jams, cream, pastries and petit fours. The Sugar Shack Maple Tart with Bourbon Plumped Raisins and Candied Pecans was out of this world delicious.

The Lisas
I topped my freshly baked currant and plain scones with fresh strawberry jam and cream. The recipe was created by the former Executive Chef, John Higgins, who served his epic scones to the Queen while Chef of the Royal Yacht Britannia. After one bite into the warm dough, I was swooning – Royalicious!

If you're looking for a classic afternoon tea experience or a special place to celebrate, you’ll find what you're looking for at the King Edward Hotel. Afternoon tea is served every Friday to Sunday from 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM in the modern dining room or in open lobby area. Also, the King Eddy will be donating a portion of the proceeds from its Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea (May 11) and Brunch (May 12) events to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

On a more personal note, I love the King Eddy because my grandparents met at the hotel in the late 1950s. My grandfather, George, worked as a bell boy and became friends with the hotel’s concierge, Lex Sheridan. Soon, George started dating Lex’s sister and my grandmother, Sheila. My grandparents’ wedding was held in one of the King Eddy’s gorgeous ballrooms. So this Toronto landmark place holds a special place in my heart – both for its history and fabulous afternoon tea.

-- Lisa Jackson is a freelance writer and blogs at Eat Drink Travel Magazine. Find her online at @eatdrinktravels or www.eatdrinktravelmag.com

Photo credits: Lisa Jackson, King Edward Hotel, Toronto History

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