Afternoon Tea At Casa Loma During Winterlicious
We love to splurge and enjoy the Afternoon Tea experience. Sometimes we plan afternoon tea when we travel. Afternoon Tea in Cape Town on Christmas Day was a great way to celebrate a holiday away from home. Afternoon Tea with fellow travel bloggers (Pam and John from @Always5Star) when we were both in Seattle was a great treat. We had Afternoon Tea at several different spots in Toronto already. But Afternoon Tea at a castle in Toronto was on the list to plan. When it showed up on the list of Winterlicious restaurants, we made sure we got in before the limited spots were gone.
Winterlicious (and Summerlicious) are held in Toronto for about 10 days in the winter and summer. It is one of the tasting things to do in Toronto! During this period, a large number of restaurants provide lunch and/or dinner menus at discounted prices. It is a great time to try a new spot or a new cuisine. We were excited when we saw Casa Loma on the list for “High Tea”. If you read my first post on Afternoon Tea, it clearly distinguishes “High Tea” (more of an early light dinner) from “Afternoon Tea” (tea and nibbles served earlier in the day). While the Case Loma event was called “High Tea”, I really believe it was “Afternoon Tea”. But whatever it was called, we found Afternoon Tea at a castle in Toronto to be great!
Casa Loma Is The Castle In Toronto
From the outside Casa Loma certainly looks like a castle. It has all the turrets we’ve come to look for in castles we have seen around Europe. This castle was only built in 1911 to look like a castle by Sir Henry Pellatt. The family only lived in the castle for 10 years before financial challenges resulted in it being sold.
Casa Loma sits on 5 acres high on a hill overlooking Toronto. While once it stood out of the city, today it is surrounded by houses and commercial properties. But you can still look out and see the CN Tower.
The old stables still stand close to the castle. From the upper windows of the castle we saw the stables. David searched until he found the stairs to the secret tunnel that can take you right to the stables.
Casa Loma was the perfect location to enjoy Afternoon Tea at a castle in Toronto!
Afternoon Tea At A Castle In Toronto
Two large rooms were set up for Afternoon tea. We were in the Conservatory, a bright room packed with tables. The Library was also set up for Afternoon Tea. This looked like a much more traditional tea room but lacked the beautiful stained glass ceiling we found in the Conservatory. The stained class ceilings reminded me so much of the beautiful ones we saw in the Chicago Cultural Centre when we visited Chicago!
When we walked in we saw large tables stocked with food. Our server quickly noted that the Afternoon Tea was not a buffet. The serving staff filled their trays from the staging room.
There was even music in the Conservatory as we ate. The musician took her place beside the golden harp with her bejewelled violin. She played a selection of music to the mostly oblivious crowd. Luckily we were sitting close to her and could hear the music over the din in the room. The music was a lovely addition to our Afternoon Tea in a castle in Toronto!
As I noted in my first Afternoon Tea blog post, fancy hats were often worn at Afternoon Tea. We were happy to see this Afternoon Tea tradition was observed by a few people. These hats are called “fascinators”. We made sure to capture a group of lovely ladies with their fascinators.
Afternoon Tea Started With A Fixed Menu
We started our Afternoon Tea experience a little disappointed. When we enjoyed other Afternoon Teas, we were always delighted to be able to select from a wide range of teas. At one place, they even had custom teas designed for them. At Casa Loma, we were given only the choice of Earl Grey, Green Tea or a Rooibos. And the tea was poured from large pots and not from an individual tea pot with tea leaves.
In other Afternoon Teas we have enjoyed, you are served with one large tiered serving platter with a fixed food menu. That was not the case for our Afternoon Tea at a castle in Toronto. A serving person first showed up with a tray of scones and croissants. You could choose what and how much you wanted. And then select from butter, cinnamon butter, jam or clotted cream to spread on top. We had a selection to start our feast. Shortly after we had scones we were then served a warm crumpet. This helped to clear up the toppings we didn’t use on the scones and croissants.
For the savoury dish, each person was served a plate with a fixed selection: egg salad croissant, liver paté, cucumber roll with crab, roast beef on a Yorkshire pudding and a yummy onion quiche. David was able to substitute out his egg salad. There was a great selection of different tastes.
But The Sweet Selections For Afternoon Tea Were Endless
After the savoury dish, we were served a custard with fruit on top to help cleanse our palette.
And then the fun began! Usually there is a fixed sweet offering for Afternoon Teas. But servers showed up at the table with trays filled with different kinds of sweets. You could pick whatever caught your fancy. And every time the trays came out, there seemed to be a different selection of sweets. When we found a peanut butter chocolate sweet particularly yummy, our server Megan headed out to find more.
When we went back to the Great Hall after Afternoon Tea, we saw where the endless supply of sweets came from. There was a giant pastry tree. At 20’, we were told it was the highest pastry tree in the world. Chef Michael Ewing presided over the pastry tree and the loading of the server trays.
When we wandered in the Great Hall, Megan offered up trays with more sweets. So if you just visit Casa Loma on a day that Afternoon Tea is served, you will also get a sweet treat.
The vast offering of sweets was the most unusual and best part of our Afternoon Tea in a castle in Toronto!
Wandering Around Casa Loma
With our Afternoon Tea reservation, we were allowed to wander around Casa Loma. We did not pick up an audio guide but that would have been a good idea if you really want the details and history on each room. It was very interesting to see a castle in North America. We spent the fall touring castles in Northern Europe. We knew this would not really be the same!
The first thing that caught our attention in the Great Hall was the Wurlitzer Organ. The keyboard sat in a glass alcove on the main floor. The pipes for the organ covered a large portion of the two storey wall in the Great Hall. When we wandered upstairs, we could look in on the mechanisms of the organ. Nobody played the organ while we were there but it would have been an amazing sound.
Also on the main floor was the Oak Room. It looked like it was set up as an elegant restaurant. I was simply fascinated to see a portrait of “The Artist Known As Prince” on one end and Queen Elizabeth on the other.
Sir Pellatt’s suite had a beautiful fireplace. But what attracted David more was the hidden wall panel that revealed the stairs to the hidden staircases and the tunnel to the stables.
Everywhere we went through Casa Loma we found interesting pieces of art. I am always drawn to the interesting figures that top columns. There were modern art statues in a few spots. A beautiful ivory peacock on a Chinese screen decorated one bedroom.
Heading Upstairs In Casa Loma
The second floor of Casa Loma provided an insight into life at the time that the Pellatts lived in the castle. Bedrooms suites were on display. One came complete with a tiger head rug.
There were a number of sitting rooms on the second floor. They were decorated with period pieces of furniture and finishings.
We headed up to the third floor to find a series of exhibit rooms. The hall showed off an interesting array of portraits.
One room was dedicated to the history of the Pellatts, different properties owned by the family and a little interesting history about Casa Loma. David was interested to find that the castle had been used for submarine detection.
There were displays of weapons, clothes and even a room dedicated to the Group of Seven Canadian painters. There was so much history to be gleaned if you wandered slowly through the third floor. A set of stairways even took you up to the top of the turrets!
We didn’t head up to the lower level of the castle. The cafe and gift shop were down there. You could also access the tunnel to the stable from here.
A Great Day At Casa Loma For Afternoon Tea
It was a delicious Afternoon Tea at a castle in Toronto. There was a good selection of foods to choose from. We were very happy that we booked this during the Winterlicious food festival. It should certainly be on your list of Afternoon Teas to try in Toronto.
David and I grew up in Toronto and visited Casa Loma as children as part of the school curriculum. We had pictures taken with Santa Claus at Casa Loma when we were young. Coming to Afternoon Tea was a very adult way to see Casa Loma.
It was great to be able to wander around the castle when Afternoon Tea was finished. Even without Afternoon Tea, visiting Casa Loma as the only castle in Toronto, is a good thing to put on your list of things to do in Toronto. Take an audio guide and you will learn so much!
Have you done Afternoon Tea at a castle in Toronto? Did you enjoy a chance to explore Casa Loma?
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