H Tasting Lounge: Cherry Blossom Festival Afternoon Tea
H Tasting Lounge is located in the lobby of the Westin Bayshore in the scenic Coal Harbour area of Vancouver. This small but spiffy dining area is a nod to one of their well-known guests… Howard Hughes who occupied the penthouse (of the then known Bayshore Inn) for 6 months back in the early 70’s. The sleek geometric lines, gold-hued accents, art deco decor and glitzy chandelier is most likely meant to evoke a sense of nostalgia for his earlier glamorous years before he became the recluse he was when he visited Vancouver.
We visited in late April for their Cherry Blossom Festival Afternoon Tea Experience ($55 per person) which includes a selection of sweet and savory items as well as your choice of tea selection. I have to admit that things started off nicely enough with a box of teas to select from… it’s nice that you’re able to see and smell the various choices offered instead of just relying on a written description from a menu. After we made our selections, they brought out a somewhat over-the-top candy floss decorated plate with house-made confiture (jam), vanilla butter, signature Bayshore honey, and a small freshly baked scone for each diner (I suppose it is in keeping with the eccentric nature Howard Hughes was known for).
There seems to be a couple of different presentations of their afternoon tea experience… one which includes a showy Ferris wheel with items precariously perched in each seat and the experience which we received where the items are presented in glitzy jewelry boxes.
The items included with the afternoon tea experience is supposed to include a Prosciutto Croissant with arugula and lemon cottage cheese, a Deviled Egg, a quarter of a Japanese Red Bean Pancake, a Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwich with avocado purée and cucumber, and a Wild Mushroom and Bacon Pastry Cup. In addition, the sweets include a Matcha Mochi, Lemon Curd Tart, Passionfruit Mousse, and Tiramisu. As you can see below… they forgot to give us the Wild Mushroom and Bacon Pastry Cup (you kind of have to wonder if they would have forgotten this if they used the Ferris wheel instead).
We wound up having to ask about the Wild Mushroom and Bacon Pastry Cup and they brought them out on a separate plate. Overall, I’d say that it’s definitely a pretty environment (complete with views of Coal Harbour and the Shogetsu or Shirofugen cherry blossoms in bloom outside the hotel). However, the food and service quality really doesn’t meet with the price of the experience.
The one tiny scone was nice but our tea was given to us in a French Tea Press (while the other tables had individual tea pots). You could barely get 1 cup of tea out of these French Presses and they were not attentive enough to refill our tea often enough (I think we had one refill… so 2 cups of tea total). Service was a bit lackluster when compared with our expectations for such a grand environment. So, I’d say they pretty much nailed the flashy yet flawed Howard Hughes theme.
1601 Bayshore Dr