Address: 3401 Dufferin St
Phone Number: (416) 629-2391
City: North York
Stepping into Laudurée Toronto is like being instantly transported to a cozy, luxurious European tea shop. If you avoid looking out the window at the hustle and bustle of Yorkdale mall, you might be able to convince yourself you really are in France enjoying one of its famed foodie establishments. Walls are a bubble-gum pink and tables in the tea salon are a white marble. To the left of the entrance, you are immediately greeted by the sight of Laudurée’s world famous macaron selection, which contains permanent flavors as well as some seasonal ones.
The service at Laudurée was outstanding overall. You are instantly welcomed by a smiling face who will allow you to choose where you’d like to sit in their tea salon. A word of caution with regards to seating though – the tea room is relatively small. Most tables are in pairs, with a couple tables being able to accommodate four guests. Even during the week, traffic starts picking up around noon, so if you plan on coming around this time, or are looking to bring more than one other person, call ahead to reserve a table. However crowded the tea room is, Laudurée’s staff has the ability to make you feel like the only guests in the room! They are patient with you while you’re deciding, are knowledgeable about their products and willing to help you navigate the menu, and also come around frequently to offer more hot water for your tea or to clear unused plates and discarded napkins from your table.
While Laudurée offers various a la carete food items (like rose raspberry French toast, various soups, sandwiches, and individual pastries), one cannot deny that what they do best is an exquisitely posh afternoon tea. If you want your goodies to come out on a silver tower, you have to have at least two willing participants to buy in to the experience at $50 each. Otherwise, you’ll get the same food for the same price, but on plates instead. Since we believe that afternoon tea at Laudurée is an experience you deserve to enjoy as fully as possible, we urge you to bring a friend. Afternoon tea comes with three macarons, three mini viennoiseries, one financier, and one madeleine accompanied by a cup of fresh whipped cream. It also comes with a seasonal fruit salad, three croque monsieurs, and your choice of two finger sandwiches (ham, avocado and piquillo, and smoked salmon). Of course, you also get tea with your meal. There is an extensive list to choose from (overwhelmingly so), but tea-goers need not be concerned – the staff are able and willing to help you with your decision. We settled on Othello and Cheri teas. The Othello variety is a delightful Indian black tea spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, and ginger (read: chai tea!). Laudurée’s menu describes the tea as “powerful and energizing,” but we found it was more delicate than the black teas we make at home, possibly because the quality of the tea is so high. It is not bitter in the slightest, despite the fact that the tea bag rests in the teapot the whole time. The Chéri tea was also splendid – one of the best we’ve ever had! The primary flavor of this Chinese black tea was vanilla with a subtly sweet caramel flavoring and cocoa notes. It was the perfect accompaniment to the rest of the treats served at afternoon tea, but would be just as enjoyable on its own.
The finger sandwiches were decent – the bread isn’t as fluffy as one might expect, and the fillings were minimal. However, the sandwiches are meant to be light, so we can’t harp too much on that. The ham sandwich had a thick layer of meat considering the general ratio of filling to bread and also contained a cream cheese spread. The avocado and piquillo sandwich contained a light spreading of avocado, arugula, and piquillos (a sweet, heatless chili pepper). The flavor of this sandwich was better than the ham in our opinion, and the bread had a nicer texture (it was multigrain, unlike the ham sandwich, which was housed in plain white bread).
The croque monsieurs – presented with as a literal elegant twist on the popular baked or fried French sandwich containing emmental cheese and ham – were delightful. These ones contained only swiss cheese inside a soft crepe shell. These are best eaten warm as the cheese is still gooey and the oil from the melted cheese hasn’t had time to collect or drip. These delicious bites are best savored with some of the lightly dressed arugula that they are served with, as the sharp, peppery flavor contrasts the richness of the emmental cheese. They were a bit on the oily side once they had settled, so consider having these sooner rather than later.
A side of seasonal fruit salad is provided as well – the one pictured above contained pineapple, orange slices, raspberries, kiwi, and honeydew, all of which were sweet and fresh (except for the orange, which was a bit on the tart side).
And now for what is unarguably the main event – the dessert tower. Starting at the bottom, each guest is given a cup of whipped cream to enjoy with their madeleine and financier. Both are the perfect texture – not too light, but not too dense. The financier is the denser of the two, likely as it is made with almonds. The almond flavor isn’t overpowering in this cakey cookie, but tastes as though it is made with almond meal, rather than flavored with the artificial stuff. The madeleine is a lighter option and goes best with the whipped cream – it has beautifully delicate citrus notes.
The middle level contains three pastries – one is a Mini Délice Griotte. This pastry is a pistachio flavored delicacy that has a macaron cookie for a base and is topped with a pistachio flavored cream coated in a gelatin-like top layer containing a boozy cherry in the very center. The flavor of the dessert is good, especially if you’re a fan of drunken cherries. The texture of the coating of this pastry was a bit strange, but not off-putting. There was also a Mini Chou Praliné (otherwise identified as a praline cream puff). The choux pastry was light and airy as it should be and filled with a smooth, delicate praline cream. The top had crystalized sugar and toasted pralines which were the perfect garnishes for this dessert if you ask us – oh, and the fleck of gold on top. The final pastry is a Mini Tartelette Passion Framboise – a tart filled with passion fruit cream and topped with a passionfruit glaze and fresh raspberry. This was our favourite of the three – every element of the dessert was on point, from the buttery and crumbly crust to the creamy filling and the slight tartness of the glaze and raspberry. This dessert really was a win!
And last but not least, the top tier contains those world-famous macarons! We tried vanille (aka vanilla – doubled up on those!), caramel fleur de sel (salted caramel), coco citron vert (coconut lime), l’incroyable guimauve fraise bonbon (strawberry candy “guimauve” – like marshmallow), and the Marie Antoinette (a seasonal, blue cookie containing a filling inspired by Laudurée’s Marie Antoinette tea – a Chinese black tea blended with rose petals, citrus, and honey). Our favourites are the vanilla for the creaminess and pure vanilla taste of the filling, the salted caramel for its unique burnt caramel taste, and the coconut lime for its perfect marriage of creamy coconut and sharp lime flavor. If you’re still hungry afterward or feel like you’ll be craving more, you can get some macrons to go! A fancy box is optional and costs extra, but if you’re going to try to recreate the feeling of this extravagant afternoon tea at home, you may as well go all out.