On a sunny Sunday afternoon, I ventured out for Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont in Calgary, Alberta. Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont is served in the Hawthorne Dining Room on Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 4 PM.
Iconic Hotel in The Heart of Calgary
Some of the world’s most iconic hotels are part of the Fairmont chain including The Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, The Savoy in London, England and The Plaza in New York City. The Palliser has been welcoming guests since 1914.
The Hawthorne dining room is a mix of 1920s opulence with rounded banquet seating, western murals, and chic decor.
High Expectations for Afternoon Tea
Dining at an establishment like the Fairmont Palliser, I expect perfection in every aspect. Are my expectations high? Yes, they are. They should be. My expectations match the venue and its reputation. Once seated, my eyes quickly fall upon the table setting. A mismatched Royal Vale teacup and Colclough saucer. Clean, yes. Worn, yes. Mismatched, yes.
Attention to detail cannot be overlooked and is certainly commensurate with the price requested for the experience. Dressing a table is as important an element as the food, the venue or the service. There is no excuse for shoddy china, especially at an upscale establishment such as this. There is such great disappointment when a high-end establishment falls short on something so easy to achieve. May we suggest a classic pair like this classic Paragon teacup and saucer.
I will quickly mention that I asked for my plate to be changed out as it had a sliver chip in it. The server was most apologetic and we moved forward with the experience.
The tone having been set, they could only go up from this point. The service was attentive and friendly. The young lady serving my table presented a selection of loose leaf teas to me. Cream Earl Grey is a favorite of mine. So smooth and fragrant; black tea that marries well with a variety of dishes. It was an easy choice.
Afternoon Tea Offerings at The Fairmont
Once the 3-tiered tray arrived, my server took the time to describe each item. The savories course included a cucumber sandwich with dill cream cheese on white, deviled egg with caviar, smoked salmon roulade with asparagus, roast beef blini garnished with tomato and coronation chicken sandwich on whole wheat. The stand out for this course was definitely the salmon roulade. The cucumber and chicken sandwich were very good but not exceptional and the deviled egg lacked the punch and pizzazz it could have had.
The scones course included the 3 customary elements: scones, jam, and cream. Don’t let these half-size scones fool you. Baked in house, these vanilla scones were probably some of the best scones I’ve ever tasted. Paired with the Devonshire cream and the champagne strawberry preserve, I may have taken the express lane to heaven.
Scones Sent From Heaven
Finishing on the top tier, a variety of bite-sized sweets were offered. All delectable, the mousse is always a favorite of mine. I sampled the macaron, hazelnut financier, lavender shortbread and the fruit tart.
Ending Afternoon Tea Sweetly
Overall, the experience was a pleasant one. The atmosphere was upscale but not stuffy, the service was attentive and the food was good. Different from a community event where donations of teacups and saucers are pivotal to its success, the Fairmont missed the mark on distinguishing its Afternoon Tea as impeccable. They need to raise the bar for such a respected establishment.
Based on the criteria listed below, we rate afternoon tea at the Fairmont Palliser Calgary a 6/10.
- TEA/FOOD SELECTION, QUALITY, AND TASTE
Afternoon Tea at this establishment is $65.00 CAD plus taxes and service.
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