With the Queen Elizabeth Hotel’s recent redesign comes Rosélys, a new restaurant to replace le Montrealais. Both its floors bear a muted yet still flashy retro style in keeping with the rest of the historic hotel’s new 1960s-cum-modern look. And while it can’t beat the ambiance of the Ritz’s Palm Court, Rosélys’ afternoon tea (served on the second floor, for $37 per person) may be better than the long-standing stacked treats at the Ritz.
First, the actual tea service beautiful — lightweight and elegant china with bold mix-and-match colours. The selection of 15 teas covers the bases, from basic blacks to green to white to herbal, including four “reserve” teas (for a $5 upgrade), three organic options and one decaf black tea (English Breakfast).
After being seated by an eager to please pair of waiters, we chose our teas: Creamy Earl Grey and Grand Bazaar Spice, each bold in their ways, and quite complementary to the bites to come. The teas arrived with a triple hour-glass timer set for three, five and seven minutes, for those who like their tea light, medium or strong. We also ordered cocktails, opting for a Dubonet (supposedly the Queen’s drink of choice, a decadent blend on Dubonet and gin with orange bitters and lemon zest) and a Fairmont old-fashioned (a stiff concoction of Woodford bourbon, rum and bitters) rather than upgrading to Royal Tea, which is an expensive option at $23 and $95 per glass of champagne. One of our dining companions did choose the Royal upgrade and was satisfied with the Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne, at the bottom end of the price range.
Then came the savoury and sweet bites: a shortbread tart with mimosa egg and radish, a cucumber sandwich with yuzu mayonnaise, smoked salmon on Viennese bread with seaweed butter and a smoked ham sandwich with tomato butter and fried basil; house-made scones with Devonshire cream and an assortment of jams and marmalade; pairs of chocolate and shortbread cookies, mousse-cake cubes, berry tartlets, carrot macarons, pound cake and lemon “pies” (cookies topped with lemon cream and lime jelly).
The flavour pairings of the savoury offerings was spot-on, and the sweets melted in our mouths, but the big test at high tea — aside from the tea itself, of course — is the quality of the scones. Luckily, they were completely delectable, neither too fluffy nor too dense, delicious even without the decadent Devonshire cream and assortment of jams, marmalade and caramel.
With the courteous and attentive wait staff and thoroughly winning bites and sips, Roselys really does give the Ritz a run for its money. ■
Rosélys, at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel
900 René-Levesque W.