The Urban Tea Merchant (Part 2)Posted: 05/13/2012
Thanks for checking in again! Without further ado, here are the remaining sandwiches and desserts from yesterday’s post, Mother’s Day @ The Urban Tea Merchant (Part 1).
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that the menu featured Wagyu Beef, albeit in a smaller portion that a meatlover like me would like. The Wagyu Beef Carpaccio with Horseradish Foam, which sat atop an olive oil crostini, exhibited nice marbling, and was very delicious. I liked that the carpaccio was more on the raw side, being only lightly seared along the edges. The extra seasoning of black pepper along the edges of the beef gave the beef a little bit of a crust which I could have done without, but it didn’t detract from the dish. I thought that there was a little too much horseradish foam on top of the crostini, so I ended up scraping it off, but the little I left on (after this picture was taken) still complemented the beef.
My favourite in terms of presentation was the Boursin Cheese Mousse with Crisp Endive and Candied Walnut— just look at how cute it is! I actually popped the whole thing in my mouth, just because I couldn’t figure out a better way to eat it (I didn’t want to be left with all the endive in the back, and spreading the cheese around seemed a little too peanut-butter-and-celery kiddish to me). I liked the mingling textures of it– the crispiness of the endive, coupled with the crunch of the walnuts and the creaminess of the cheese mousse was something I had never experienced before. I was a little skeptical at first, because the words cheese and mousse don’t really conjure up appetizing thoughts, but I found that the cheese was actually quite light, which allowed the walnuts and veggies to shine too. Even my mom, who despises cheesy things (except for the cheese on pizza and on cheeseburgers), enjoyed eating this.
The second-last sandwich I had was the Cucumber Tea Sandwich with Watercress Foam. I don’t really understand all this foam business– I guess it makes the sandwiches more fancy– but to me it just looks like a weird light paste, and most times I can barely taste the foamy ingredient. I’m sure someone who is more of a food connoisseur would be giving me the death glare right now because I’m not appreciating the work that goes into making it, the delicate flavour, the blah blah blah… anyways, I digress. In short, I couldn’t taste the watercressy-ness of the foam. The sandwich on the whole was pretty much the mild and refreshing finish I expected (I think cucumber and watercress sandwiches are staples of afternoon tea). It wasn’t anything spectacular (cue foam-lovers’ gasp!), but by no means was it poorly executed. I just wasn’t very excited about it.
This, though– THIS I was excited about. I have had the pleasure of munching on this Lapsang Souchong Tea-Infused Chicken Tea Sandwich on all 3 visits, and needless to say, I really really love it. I love that it’s served in an adorable little waffle cone; I love that you can taste the smokiness of the Lapsang Souchong, a tea that’s showcased in the storefront; I love that the chicken and celery and lettuce and cone go so darn well with each other. This last savoury item is pretty unique in my books, but of course, I haven’t been to many other afternoon tea places, so maybe I’m just woefully ignorant. Anyways. I’ll stop gushing. My mom and I both thought that the chicken cone was well prepared– the chicken salad filling was just moist enough so that even though we ate it last, the cone was still crisp. In addition to this, the filling was nicely seasoned; like I said in my above rave, you could really taste the smokiness of the tea leaves. Overall I thought it was a great end to the savoury portion of our meal.
By the time we reached the dessert platter, we were already feeling really full, which surprised my mom because she didn’t think that she’d be satisfied with those few sandwiches. Since we were one of two groups at the restaurant at that time (I guess nobody has tea at 7:30!), we could take our time and digest a little before tackling the desserts. This platter, like the savoury one, had double the portion so that we could save on space. On it were Assorted Fruits, consisting of a few slices each of dragonfruit, starfruit, oranges and pineapple, plus a gooseberry. The fruits all tasted very fresh and sweet– I was very pleasantly surprised that the pineapple wasn’t super sour, and that the dragonfruit and starfruit were both very flavourful (these two fruits normally taste pretty bland). The Chevron Strawberry (chocolate dipped strawberry) was prepared correctly so that the fruit was still juicy and and not mushy underneath the chocolate layer. Also included on the plate were Chocolate-Dipped Green Tea Madeleines. Compared to the other tea-infused items on the menu, this was one of the best executed in that you could actually taste the green tea baked into this light and spongey pastry.
The last thing my mom and I ate were the two Macarons— the pink one was Bain de Roses Tea-Infused, and the yellow one was Lemon Rooibos Infused. Both these macarons were well balanced in flavour; I could taste the almond flavouring used in the shell in addition to the tea. My personal favourite was the lemon Rooibos, which was a nice blend of sweet and sour. The Bain de Rose macaron was a little too flowery for my taste, reminding me somewhat of my Crabtree & Evelyn lotion…
We packed away the Truffles and Petit Fours, simply because we were too full to continue (And also because any more sweets would make our teeth fall out. Probably). We have actually yet to eat them, since we’ve been going out for meals all weekend with various family members. I remembered not liking the petit fours that much though, because they were extremely sweet– so sweet that my jaw started hurting. You could taste the almond flavouring, but I was far too distracted by the sweetness to taste anything else (apparently these are tea-infused too). Perhaps I’m just not a petit fours kind of person.
In general, we had a fantastic time at The Urban Tea Merchant. The staff were very friendly and informative, and when I asked them about the champagne they immediately apologized and corrected their mistake (even though it was a fairly minor one by my standards). The manager also checked up on us a few times, even though he had his own Mother’s Day dinner to attend (his was the other group in the restaurant). Overall, I found service to be top-notch, and it’s certainly one of the reasons why I have returned. Price-wise, it can be a little expensive for some (the Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea Special is $48, but they do have some cheaper sets that are priced at $25 per person), but the quality of food and service (plus the champagne) justified the cost for me. I don’t think I’d drop by for a random visit because it would put too big a dent in my wallet if I went too often, but it’s certainly a great place to go for a special event.
Anyways. I hope you’re all having a splendid day (it’s beautiful in Vancouver) and that you’re spending quality time with your mothers! Again, Happy Mother’s Day!
The Urban Tea Merchant
1070 West Georgia Street