When it comes to afternoon tea, what immediately comes to mind are multiple tiers of decadent cakes, tea sandwiches, scones, and let’s not forget, an assortment of precious loose-leaf tea to choose from. Enjoying afternoon tea with friends is a luxury, but much needed at times to take a break from daily routines and to catch up with our family and friends.
The number of places to enjoy afternoon tea is rather scarce in the GTA. Although not inside a grand, elegant hotel with white table cloths, high ceilings, and tall windows, Ruelo Pâtisserie is comparable in quality when it comes to their pastries. In fact, I’d say they’re even superior than several hotels that give the impression of a lovely place to tea, yet fall short in both their food and service. Although I’ve known of Ruelo’s existence for quite some time now, I never made my visit until several months ago (on Father’s Day to be exact). There are not too many pâtisseries uptown, but Ruelo is one of the more popular ones, located in Times Square in Richmond Hill.
The difference between a bakery and a pâtisserie is explained on Wikipedia: “A pâtisserie (pronounced: [pɑtisʁi]) is the type of French or Belgian bakery that specializes in pastries and sweets. In both countries it is a legally controlled title that may only be used by bakeries that employ a licensed maître pâtissier (master pastry chef). In France and Belgium the pâtissier is a pastry chef who has completed a lengthy training process, typically an apprenticeship, and passed a written examination.”
The cakes sold at Ruelo are very pretty and colourful; definitely the Asian style with emphasis on light, airy flavours that are not over-the-top sweet. Instead of using buttercream for cake decorations, mousse is often used instead and many fresh fruits act as garnishes. Cakes are available in several different sizes, and a wide array of macaron flavours are also present. Unique flavours such as Rose Lychee Raspberry, Wasabi Grapefruit, and Blueberry Lemon sure sound attractive. Although macarons are usually priced from $1.50-$2.50 a piece, the ones at Ruelo run as high as $3 each (how dare they? ;D).
Afternoon tea is availabe at Ruelo everyday from 12-6pm, and each set is $15.99, with a minimum order of 2 sets. After ordering, the staff will bring over a large tray of teas for you to select from. I went with the Ginger Lemon Green Tea. I was actually a bit surprised that my tea was served in a plastic dispenser rather than a tea pot. As far as I know, plastic isn’t the best option when it comes to serving extremely hot beverages. I was also clueless as to how the thing worked; I was struggling to pour the tea out, haha. Never realized there was a button on top until my friend told me :)
The strawberry macaron on the top tier was delicious; I was actually pleasantly surprised. It’s also very pink inside. I don’t like macarons that break into a million pieces after the first bite, and thankfully this did not. It was baked really well with a filling that had an apparent strawberry taste. I strongly dislike macarons that are super sugary and crumbly. As for the mini crème brûlée, I thought it wasn’t bad as it was smooth with a sugar layer on top that actually cracked.
These scones were amazing. I’m usually not a fan of scones as I find them too dry and dense for my liking, but these were good! They also came warm since they’re heated in the oven right before serving. I was fairly impressed. We couldn’t finish them all, so I gladly brought two of them home for consumption later ;) The tea sandwiches were topped with smoked salmon, while the other was wrapped in prosciutto. They were tasty although a little dry with the absence of butter or mayonnaise. The tomato-olive oil bruschetta was good but nothing to write home about.
Ruelo also serves warm desserts such as soufflé, molten chocolate cake, and french apple tart. We ordered the souffle right when we entered since they require a 35 minute preparation time. But what do we know? We ended up having to wait over an hour for it because they were busy with Father’s Day cake orders. Anyway, our Grand Marnier Soufflé ($9.99) finally arrived and it was pretty darn good, I must say. It wasn’t too sweet and had a hint of orange liqueur, with a good amount of rise. Very custard-y yet airy at the same time; it was heavenly. It was definitely delicious and soufflés are difficult to find in Toronto restaurants, so Ruelo isn’t a bad option if you want to indulge in a warm soufflé on a cold, winter day.
Overall, I found Ruelo to exceed my expectations and I would most certainly come back to try their other macaron flavours and cakelets since I didn’t get a chance to do so. I don’t know what took me so long since I live fairly close to Times Square, but I’m glad I finally did because they’re one of the few places in the area that do macarons ;D
Times Square, 550 Highway 7 E., Unit C73
Richmond Hill, Ontario, L4B 3Z4
Phone: (905) 762-1500