Verdict: Afternoon Tea at Colette is Not as Perfect as it Seems on Instagram

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This is going to be my first negative review, but you know what, it’s time for some afternoon honest-TEA.

My sister and I brought my mom to Colette Grand Cafe in Yorkdale to spend some quality time together over afternoon tea. We were really looking forward to it because we rarely go out with just us three but, unfortunately, we were thoroughly disappointed in the quality of the pastries and savoury foods. When you’re with great company, you just want the best so it was too bad that this restaurant did not live up to our expectations. If you are unfamiliar with afternoon tea, it is traditionally a pre-fixe service in which restaurants offer savoury finger-sandwiches, sweet pastries and a selection of teas for a couple of hours around noon. There are multiple places to have afternoon tea in Toronto like the Omni King Edward Hotel, the Shangri-La, and Sorelle and Co. We chose Colette because of its *relative* affordability since it costs $35 compared to around $50 at the other locations I just listed, its proximity to us, and honestly because the pictures of the food and overall experience on Instagram just looked so perfect. Well now we know, Instagram is a lie (this is sarcasm, we know this already but, to our detriment, we always choose to look the other way).

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We start with the Sloane Fine Teas. There was a good selection of ten teas to choose from ranging from black, green, and herbal tea. We had one of each category between us three. We got the heavenly cream which is a black tea with notes of bergamot and vanilla, the jasmine mist consisting of jasmine blossoms, and the citron calm which has a chamomile and citrus taste. I had no problem with the teas, they were actually flavourful, tasty and memorable. We chatted and waited for our assortment of sweet & savoury foods while the tea steeped in each of their respective pots. There was enough in each pot for at least three cups because we each tried one another’s tea. I liked the jasmine blossom the best for its fresh and classic taste.

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Our food has arrived!

I was stoked to try the avocado toast, but if you look at the photo, that is not avocado toast. I think that’s kind of misleading to say and really does injustice to avocado toast when you put a spread of what looks like the inside of a taco on a measly, crumbly cracker. I’ve had incredible avocado toast at other places (the avocado is best paired with feta or goat cheese) so this was a clear let down. If you look at the top right plate, you will also see a crab and shrimp salad and a steak tartare. The crab and shrimp salad was alright, but trying the steak tartare (AAA beef tenderloin, capers, cornichons, dijon and egg yolk) was a moment we all regretted.

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There were two finger sandwiches offered – smoked salmon and chicken salad. The chicken salad was also alright, kind of bland, but the smoked salmon did not seem fresh. It was that kind of chewy texture that you hope you don’t taste when you order smoked salmon. Moving on, the lemon scone was the best sweet item on that plate (even though it wasn’t served with whipped cream and jam as the menu states). It was unique in taste and not dry. The madelines were more dense than I’d hoped, the tartelettes were kind of tasteless but somewhat enjoyable because the tart was crunchy and the cream was light, but the saddest part were the macarons. The lemon, chocolate and strawberry macarons were probably one of the worst macarons I’ve tasted. They lacked flavour, tasted a bit stale, and kind of reminded me of eating cardboard. Is that too harsh?

Overall, I would not recommend this establishment for afternoon tea. The service was mediocre (our server was really unengaged with our table), and although there was a diverse selection of teas, pastries and foods, the quality of the food was disappointing. I was also quite hungry after this. Next time, I’m going to have to bring my mom to a tried and true delicious place to make up for this experience. Sigh. Any recommendations?

Have you had afternoon tea before or eaten at Colette? Share your experience in the comments below!

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