“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” ― Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
On the very last day of August, the very warm weather that had graced Vancouver seemed to be coming to a close. The slightest chill hung in the shadows where the sun could not peer into, although in general, it was what would be described as ‘a very fine day’.
My dear friend ‘em’ and I wanted to usher out the last few days of ‘true summer’, as I call it, and warm weather in high form. Now what could be posh-er than Afternoon Tea?
Patisserie Für Elise is a pastry shop and tea salon that runs out of a quaint little heritage building on the edge of Yaletown –Hamilton Street. I had been wanting to explore it for a while, so when M agreed to the expedition, we took the Canada Line down to Stadium-Chinatown station that very weekend (really, there’s nothing nicer than having such a direct and simple route to take to one’s destination!) and walked the few blocks to the row of converted heritage homes.
Five unintended but fashionable minutes late, M hovered anxiously close to the entrance, urging me to hurry as I decided to change my footwear from the ballet flats that were worn for the transit ride into the heels that I had brought along. Never having learned the art of being a proper woman to the full, and not wanting to verge into rudely late territory, I gave up on the idea and resigned myself to my disheveled state, and we (with some variation of grace) flung the door open. Two sixteenths of a second later, a girl in a frilly floral apron greeted us, ushered us upstairs, and sat us down in a table of our choosing.
The place is pure eye candy, and I went giddy over all the grand opulence and little details which resulted in a few shots that could have only been taken by someone in a state of tipsiness.
The pretty ‘kitchen’. This tiny space is where all the equally petite, delicious magic is churned out of!
Can’t you see the long, flouncy skirts spilling over the sides of these chairs, and the parasols leaning against the edges of the tables?
I don’t think my camera’s shutter ever worked harder in such a short time than it did here. But honestly, who could resist the charms of this place? Certainly not this girly-girl, at any rate!
I even shamelessly smuggled my camera with me into the lavatory under the pretense of business that should actually be done in such a room, because it was too darling not to document. I wonder if the girls behind the counter actually knew my true purpose! I can’t have been the first!
Such a genteel looking lavatory, no?
Inside the lavatory, with an illuminated mirror and artistic chair…
Finally returning to the business of actually ordering tea, I settled on ‘Sweetheart‘, a strawberry flavoured black tea, and M decided on ‘Lychee Garden‘, which had the mentioned fruit and peony flowers in it. While we waited, I slipped into my ruby pumps, feeling ridiculous as two girls at the other table raised their eyebrows at my doings. All I can say is that it is better to be absolutely ridiculous, than absolutely boring. *ahem*
The tea came soon enough. Along with the steaming pots, we were given an hourglass that counted five minutes and told that as soon as all the pink grains had settled to the bottom, our tea would be ready to enjoy!
I’ve just realised that I seem to bring my book clutch with me whenever I take tea…
Now I’m always very careful not to read what is on the menu when I look at afternoon tea reviews, as I prefer being surprised and having the dining experience feel new and ‘fresh’ to me. So in case you are like me, I will skip the elaborate descriptions of every single morsel that was served, and simply let the collage below suffice.
I feel like I need to give the food another chance, as I was honestly not head-over-heels in love as I had been with the offerings at the Fairmont Empress. But my first impressions were that the blueberry panna cotta was divine (alright, I might be going into a few details here…) the macarons were quite good though not on par with Soirette’s, the croissants over-toasted, and the gelatinous little petits fours were like an unsuccessful melding of a European’s and Asian’s idea of a sweet. I could be completely far off the mark here, but at first taste, that is what it seemed like to me. If I do go back, I will pepper the girls who work there with questions regarding some of the desserts and their origins/inspiration, but this visit was purely for catching up with a dear friend, and so any curiosity regarding that topic was put off for another time. The tea itself was very satisfying, although I did prefer the lychee concoction a bit more as the strawberry one seemed to have a slight herbal after-taste to it.
The pastry shoppe downstairs…
After a couple of hours merrily giggling and chatting away, we took our leave and went downstairs to look at the sweets ready to be sold in case one didn’t have time to partake in tea, or perhaps if one didn’t have enough of it.
The display window at the front of the salon. All Patisserie Für Elise girls wear this uniform. I wouldn’t mind working here at all!
More picture-taking was indulged in out-of-doors…
Don’t my shoes just match the door perfectly?
Für Elise’s pretty purple neighbour even had a shot dedicated to its beautiful amethyst shade…
… and either poetically or dramatically, we took our fond leave after I snapped this picture of the trees, who with arched branches, stand in graceful watch by either side of the gate.
Later that night, I wrote to a friend the following one-and-only sentence:
I am obsessed with Afternoon Tea.
– Miss Cathie
Note: At $30 per lady/gent, I feel the decor and ambiance definitely figure in the cost, however, they are very generous with refilling your teapots. I’m hoping a second visit will confirm whether the so-so croissants and desserts were simply the result of an off-day. While it seemed to be quiet when we arrived at around 2 p.m., the place filled up quite quickly soon after, so reservations are a good idea! I can see this being a very popular place during the wedding season, and any special holidays like Christmas and Easter.
P.S. Ever since a certain someone said ‘xoxo, Miss Cathie’ in the manner of Gossip Girl, I’ve had the hankering to change my sign-off. Grr. You know who you are, you infidel! *resumes ladylike composure*