While I am totally for abolishing the monarchy and any attachment to the throne, the one English tradition that I quite enjoy is the ritual of afternoon tea. I’m just glad that we don’t have to don any large hats or get sewed into a corset anymore – there are some traditions I’m glad have been put to rest.
One of my favorite patisseries North of the city is Butter Avenue, co-owned by siblings Calvin and Tina Su. Calvin left the corporate world and puts his business know-how to use as sister Tina, who trained at Ottawa’s Le Cordon Bleu, whips up beautiful and decadent creations in the back.
The patisserie first made its mark in Toronto with the French macaron but has since expanded its product offerings to include a variety of baked goods and confectioneries.
But what most people don’t know is that they also offer afternoon tea; a lighter option, the Lumière ($29.50 per person) or the De Luxe ($45 per person). Reservations must be made a day in advance by 3PM.
The meal starts with brioche, mini quiches and smoked salmon croissant. The smoked salmon croissant is the clear winner, flaky and buttery with the mini bacon and cheddar quiche as a close second. The brioche needs a bit of work as it is rather bland. However, I much prefer brioche, croissants and anything made from butter to boring, crustless tea sandwiches (another tradition I don’t fancy).
The savory selection is then followed by a butterflies-in-your-stomach excitement of petit fours which is placed in a natural progression of lightest to heaviest (much like a flight of beers/wine). We start with a light and airy pistachio profiterole topped with a white chocolate glaze; strawberry tartlet with candy cane; Terre et Neige (layers of matcha mousse, dark chocolate sponge + vanilla mousse); raspberry + dark chocolate mousse cake; mango jelly with coconut mousse on a pistachio tart base; and end with the nutty dark chocolate cake made with a duo of dark chocolate mousse atop a layer of chocolate sponge + puffed rice. The selection of mousses seem a tad repetitive at first, but leave you feeling much lighter than the traditional ganache/butter-cream filled petits fours. Tina does a good job at fusing French pastries with an Asian touch (as most Asian patisseries favor mousse to buttercream or icing).
The afternoon finishes with Butter Avenue’s famed macarons and the pièce de resistance -the vanilla mousse + dark chocolate biscuit cake (which texturally is more akin to a panna cotta) to which a strong but silky espresso is poured.
For those of you who haven’t had the chance to experience the wonderful macarons and pastries at Butter Avenue; I highly urge you to go. The space is very inviting and on the plus side you can score free parking which will leave you with some extra change to splurge on more macarons!
**TIP: Check in on Yelp for a free Americano with any purchase.**
*NB* The vanilla mousse + dark chocolate biscuit cake is only available with the De Luxe set; which also includes 3 macarons versus 1 with the Lumière. The drink options also expand to include lattés for those who don’t fancy tea but only with the De Luxe set.
*UPDATE 23/APR/2015 – Please note that Butter Avenue has discontinued their afternoon tea program*