Tea on a Ferris Wheel

Overall – 🍮🍮🍮🍮 Food – 🍮🍮🍮 Tea – 🍮🍮  Fun Factor – 🍮🍮🍮🍮🍮 Price – $55 each

H Tasting Lounge, Westin Bayshore Inn, 1601 Bayshore Dr., Vancouver, BC V6G 2V4

www.marriott.com, Phone: (604) 682-3377

By Cathalynn Labonté-Smith © March 2021

Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage.

– Catherine Douzel

The H Tasting Lounge at the Westin Bayshore Inn in Vancouver, BC offers an afternoon high tea on weekends from 12-3. I made a reservation for myself and my niece, Katrina, to celebrate her birthday. I got on the waitlist a month prior for one of the five coveted bubbles on their patio, dubbed The Secret Garden, but when I got there was only a bubble available at 4:00 pm. Too late for us—a pity as the sun was out and being on the waterfront would’ve been a treat. I peeked out the window at the geodesic domes with sultan interiors strewn with pillows and blankets and they looked so inviting; however, the restaurant interior was equally pleasant.  

Ever dream of trees made of cotton candy?

We waded through rafts of pastel balloons of other birthday celebrants on the way to our table. Pink-tinged cotton candy trees sprouted from pewter trunks on tables beside brass miniature Ferris wheels. It was a carnival of spinning and spun food and the air was filled with oohs and ahhs of the birthday ladies receiving gifts. Our table was immaculately set with white linen, gold cutlery and gold teacups. We were surrounded on each side by beautiful glass and wood COVID barriers, and felt as snug sliding into our seats as we would climbing into the cradle of a Ferris wheel car. 

The Westin Inn Bayshore is tucked at the end of a cozy cul-de-sac in Coal Harbour in bustling downtown Vancouver, BC. There’s free parking while you dine or stay as a guest, that’s right FREE parking in a parkade or on the street in downtown Vancouver. Even on a Saturday afternoon, it’s hard to tell that you are just a block away from the main thoroughfare of West Georgia Street that rolls into the downtown core, via bridges from all directions, 

The hotel hosted Howard Hughes, the eccentric billionaire and aviator, for six months whilst he was in the grip of agoraphobia and xenophobia. He had an entire floor of the hotel booked for himself. The restaurant capitalizes on Hughes’ fame from the wait staff’s gold airplane pins to the airplane-like decor. 

Tasty but too small vanilla pear scones.

I ordered my standard Earl Grey variation, in this case, Imperial Grey. Katrina was intrigued by the Keemun—a black tea with wine undertones. Our server brought some tea for her sniff before she ordered it. Our tea arrived promptly and scalding hot; however, we both found our teas lacking in flavour. Compared to other tea specialty shops, like Secret Garden Tea Company, Adonia Tea House, and Neverland Tea Salon they were under par.

The bonsai cotton candy tree arrived at the same time as the vanilla pear scones with fresh cream and jam. The scones were more-ish but woefully undersized. The jam was one tiny jar to share between us and ditto for the cream. I’d think during the pandemic they’d offer one jar/cream per diner, but we were just careful about our utensils.

The mini Ferris wheel was a showstopper. We were so delighted that it moves when you take something from a plate.They handled our order for one vegetarian (Katrina), and one vegetarian but seafood and fish okay, but no nuts or soy (me), extremely well. However, the server said that their baked goods were made out of house, so that the pastries may have been in contact with nuts or soy products. My sensitivities are mild so that didn’t bother me, but it was disappointing as places like Patisserie Fur Elise and Butter Baked Goods make everything in house. 

Katrina Archibald ready to spin the wheel.

We started with button-sized mushroom quiches. The pastry was pure butter and the filling savoury and pleasing. I could’ve eaten a dozen. The lobster eclair was divine—I was sad when it was gone. The smoked salmon finger sammy with crème fraiche, caperberries, salmon roe and rye bread, a staple of West Coasters, was rich and packed with ocean flavours. Kat had a tomato and avocado finger sammy that rolled her eyes back in her head, and a pudding of hummus topped with veggies that she pronounced delicious.

Truffle egg salad pinwheel.

Onto everyone’s favourite, the egg salad sammy. The H Tasting Lounge’s version of this classic is a pinwheel truffle egg salad with shallots and chives. One bite and a lethal combination of raw chives and shallots overpowered my palate. The wholewheat bread was stale from being made ahead. I didn’t taste any of the delicate truffle because of the fiery oniony bits.

Katrina had the matcha dacquoise with matcha crèmeux, yuzu mousse and almonds. A Lilliputian work of emerald art. She said it was not to her taste, although she does enjoy matcha. We thrilled each time we the Ferris wheel moved on to the next course. This time it spun to the butter tarts with pert strawberry basil mousse tops and lemon curd filling. A few bites were all I could manage, somehow I found it too tart, sour and sweet at the same time—reminiscent of a Sweet Tart candy.

Strawberry mousse and lemon butter tart
Chocolate cake with ganache and salted caramel and New York cheesecake with raspberry gelee.

The wheel rolled to ta da the New York cheesecake with raspberry gelee, smooth rich but I left most of the thick cakey crust on my plate. Sadly, the wheel was down to its last offering, but we were full to capacity but it was chocolate. The last morsel was a gluten-free chocolate cake square stacked with dark chocolate ganache and garnished with salted caramel. It was the star of the sweets, just like the lobster roll took best actor for the savouries for me with the mushroom quiche taking the best supporting actor.

When I booked online I checked the box that this was a birthday celebration. I noticed that the other birthday “girls” received a dish of fruit with a sparkler at the end of their tea, but we didn’t. Not that we’d have room for more food, but it was a bit of a let down.

Would I go there again for high tea? There are a few more places I’d like to try and some old favs to revisit before returning to the H Tasting Lounge. If you crave fresh baked goods and are a tea snob, then this isn’t where you want to go. Their strengths are service, decor, the fun factor and creativity. If you’re planning a special occasion for tweens, teens, and the young at heart this is the place. The domes are open until March 13th, but likely you won’t be able to reserve them due to their popularity. 

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