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3.5
  • Food3.5
  • Service3
  • Value3
  • Ambiance3.5
  • Reviews17

Secret Garden Tea Room, The

5559 West Boulevard
Vancouver, BC V6M3W6
Tel: (604) 261-3070
  • Cuisine: Tea house
  • Price: $$$ ($30 - $45)
  • Service: Catering
  • Located in Kerrisdale, Secret Garden Tea Room offers afternoon tea, breakfast, lunch and beautiful homemade miniature sweets or scones.

Reviews

Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 Reviews FoundSort: Useful | Helpful | Reviews | Date
Decent, but very, very pricey $$$$$
By lindarose of Vancouver (172 Reviews)
Submitted Wednesday, January 30, 2008 - 7:38pm [Dine in]

I went to this tea room with my 2.5 year old son. I am always amazed at how a Tea Room can transform such a rambuctious, high spirited boy into a little genteman.

Anyways, I brought my son to this Tea room at approximately 4:30 in the afternoon. The Tea Room was not busy (I choose these times when I bring toddlers so that they are not overstimulated and, if necessary, I can quickly pay and make a quick exit if they are not on their best behavior).

I explained to the waitress that I wanted to try the pricier high tea which was $25 per person. I explained that I was NOT going to pay $25 each for myself AND a two year old, but that I wanted only the amount for one person and that I would share with my child as he was so very young. The waitress was excellent with the little guy and advised that this would be fine. I also asked for a small, non-expensive cup, as my boy would want a cup of tea - even if he doesn't always drink it - he would want one because I had one. The waitress explained that they had smaller, child sized cups.

The Lavander Earl Grey Tea was deiicious. I was underwhelmed at the platter though. There was 2 portions of tiny croissants with ham and cheese, two very small cream cheese, bacon savory bits, and three very small egg salad rolls, there was a two small scones, which were each split and a tiny amount of Devonshire Cream and jam. Finally there were three small sweets. This would have been fine if the price was $15. I would even go so far as saying okay at $20. But this was a $25 item!! They didn't even give a little salmon lox sandwhich.

When I received the bill, I was even more floored. They charged me an extra $2.50 for a "Child's Pot of Tea" Huh??? I used the same tea pot for him as for me. I didn't even take extra water. MY CHILD IS TWO YEARS OLD!! They charged a two year old to drink out of his mum's pot of tea!! My bill for a a few tiny sandwhiches and miniscule cakes came to over $32.00

Way too pricey!

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You buy an experience
By lovingfood of Kerrisdale (90 Reviews)
Submitted Saturday, January 26, 2008 - 10:46pm [Dine in]

I had a relaxing afternoon :)

I like lemon tarts and scones. Food is good but is it worthy $24 per person? Hmmm...I think it's more like buying an experience than buying food and tea. If you value experience more than food, then yes you should go.

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Cute place. Very busy on a Sunday.
By hungryjo of Vancouver (174 Reviews)
Submitted Thursday, March 20, 2008 - 11:04pm [Dine in]

I found this place by luck. I was reading another review for an afternoon tea cafe and someone mentioned this place so I googled it. Their website was sooo tempting that I had to go! They actually have a pastry (or dessert) chef to make their goodies! Yumm. I guess this shows how little knowledge I have about afternoon teas. I think it's because the other places I've been to use pre-made or frozen food. bleh
I'm not much of a tea fan but I love sandwiches, pastry and desserts. I had the mini combo which inc/ a pot of tea, 2 sandwiches, 2-3 pastries and 1 dessert of my choice. They were all good and fresh and not too rich or too sugary. I will definitely visit again. They also have regular menu items such as soup, salad, sandwiches, (pasta?), etc.
Yum yum

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Low key and charming.
By silmycat of BC (25 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, October 13, 2009 - 11:38pm [Dine in]

Went for afternoon tea. The food was pretty decent for afternoon tea. The selection of finger sandwiches tasted fresh and had a nice mix of flavours. There were turkey croissants, shrimp on focaccia, and egg salad pin wheels. The egg salad was very rich and creamy. I was surprised that the scones were not warm here, as they have been at all other afternoon tea services I've experienced, both here and in the UK. The clotted cream was very airy and not as dense as a good devonshire should be. Of the sweets offered, I enjoyed the blood orange chocolate swiss roll type dessert very much. The spice apple cake number was a tad too sweet for me, and the lemon tart was a bit 'meh'.

I was disappointed that the tea was not served loose. I had the assam and my partner had the darjeeling, both were bagged. When I am paying between $25 to $30 for tea I have higher expectations in the quality of tea. They sell their tea loose, so really they should be serving it loose. Why resort to bags?

Service was ok. It wasn't really solid, but I rounded up as it was better than decent. After our server brought over the tea and tier, she came by to top up our pots within 5 minutes of us receiving our tea. At that time our teapots were pretty much full to the brim. After this top up we never saw her again. It doesn't really help to have your teapot topped up before you've had a chance to pour your tea out. We noted that another server would go around with the hot water and top up every table except ours. We ended up having to flag down another server for top up. The servers were friendly, and we didn't feel rushed. Maybe it was just disorganization that caused the hot water snafu.

The tea house was very quaint. The tables were nicely space, and it didn't feel crowded. When you make reservations I would request a table in the front room. We had a lovely window seat which made the ambiance that much nicer. I just wouldn't want the table in the the rear of the house where you get a view of the toilet every time someone opens up the door.

Value in regards to the food is just decent. There wasn't any gourmet ingredients or special flavour combinations in any of the food items, and the tea is bagged.

I would still give this place another try if the opportunity presents itself in the future. It's definitely a charming place to take someone or meet someone for a lunch.

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Umm, may I have some Tea with my Tea?
By AlexandraBishop of Point Grey (24 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, December 14, 2008 - 10:14am [Dine in]

This gorgeous little spot in Kerrisdale has great decor and awesome looking food - it's just that I ordered the wrong thing. I ordered the "petit tea" and it was absolutely pathetic. 2 miniscule sandwiches that were stone freezing cold (obviously had been made in the morning and kept in the fridge) A freezing, soggy croissant the size of a thimble is not exactly great value at 13 bucks. It came with a choice of 2 sweets and a pot of tea - that I had to ask for twice. Meanwhile, the people who shelled out an outrageous 24 bucks were getting tiered platters of the most incredible looking food. Moral of the story, order the soup and fresh made sandwiches. Looks like the best value.

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breakfast time
By anton of Greater Van (23 Reviews)
Submitted Friday, October 24, 2008 - 11:31pm [Dine in]

This place is famous for high tea, so I thought I'd change it up and review their breakfast menu.

The service and atmoshpere need no introduction as they are consistently good. They really pay attention to the details.

The breakfast menu is not huge, about 6-8 items, ranging from French toast, omlette, to oatmeal. My friend and I both love their apple pancake, which is light and fluffy. And their tea selection is extensive and my selection of Secret Garden's secret was delicious.

Yes, price is a little high, but it's a pampering (my bill comes to $11 plus tips for just the tea and pancake). One should take the time to absorb the atmosphere, leisurely consume your meal and enjoy the company of your friends. I may not come back the next couple of days, but definitely will be back.

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Loved It!
By kattyc of Vancouver/Victoria (15 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, October 6, 2008 - 1:13am [Dine in]

I'd only been to high tea one other time, at a hotel downtown, and the Secret Garden definitely outshone the other! The pastries were delicious; just the thought of them is making me salivate! The sandwiches were enjoyable as well, typical high tea fare, from what I've heard. The decor was to die for, though. From the squishy tea cozies to the Pride & Prejudice-esque (BBC version, of course) music, I was completely charmed. I would love to return! The only downside was the price, for a mid afternoon snack, but it's fairly reasonable, comparatively.

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High tea in Kerrisdale
By Florentine of Yaletown, Vancouver (17 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, February 19, 2007 - 11:33am [Dine in]

Located in Kerrisdale, the Secret Garden Tea Room is a small, casual tea room which also acts as a take-out cafe and a gift shop. You can arrive off the street and order anything off the menu, but we reserved ahead of time and got a nice table for their high tea.

Since we were all tea fans, we loved the choice of the teas. Everyone could choose their own tea out of a menu that featured pages of pages of different blends - black teas, roiboos, green teas, herbals, etc. I'd recommend the Children's Hospital Vanilla - it's a black tea with bergamot, vanilla, and rose-petals. Proceeds go towards supporting the Children's Hospital.

The food comes on a three-layer serving platter. The bottom layer featured bite-sized (very mild) Thai chicken salad in a won ton shell cup, egg-salad sandwich rolls (in flattened sandwich bread without the crusts), and mini butter croissants with tasty ham and cheese. My only complaint was that the croissants had obviously been refrigerated, so they didn't have the same texture as freshly baked croissants. Other than that, everyone had at least 2 pieces each of the chicken and croissants, and 3 pieces of egg salad sandwich.

The second layer featured tiny blueberry muffin halves (2 each), and a whole mini cranberry scone (sliced) served with generous portions of raspberry jam and devonshire cream (1 each).

Finally, the top layer featured mini desserts - bite-sized chocolate cakes (with a chocolate fudge centre), bite-sized lemon tarts, and a peach cheesecake slice (all 1 piece per person).

Service was friendly and efficient. Our waitress would explain the food on the trays and would give us opinions on all their different teas.

All together our high tea took 2 hours. It's a great place to relax and enjoy company. Don't expect anything too high end - this is not the Empress... but it's closer to what a casual high tea (late luncheon) in an English tea room in England is like.

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Perfect high tea delight
By DoubleD of Richmond (6 Reviews)
Submitted Friday, December 4, 2009 - 11:02am [Dine in]

I've been coming to the Secret Garden a few times a year for the last 5 years and it is a ritual for myself and friends. When I got married, I had the Secret Garden cater my shower as well. It is such a wonderfully girlie spot, with delicious tea and food. I've had both the high tea and come in just for lunch. For the High Tea, they do seatings at 12, 2 and 4, and I've always made a reservation. When they bring you the high tea they take the time to explain what each yummy morsel is made of, to complete the experience. Coming here is a lovely time to get away and just relax with some yummy tea, delicious food and great service. It can get noisy if the place is full, but I've never found it to take away from my relaxing experience.

With sandwich fillings like: Goat Cheese Onion Marmalade, Roasted Veggies with Goat Cheese Pesto and Lemon Basil Chicken Salad (and many more), on mini croissants or mini muffins flavored with Orange Rosemary or Red Pepper Cornmeal (many other types), I'm not sure how anyone could not be impressed with how delicious the food is. I also love the Egg Salad pinwheels; the egg salad is so creamy! The high tea comes with 3 tiers: sandwiches, mini scones and dessert breads with Devon cream and jam, and then a selection of miniature tarts and cakes. I love that everything is miniature here- they don't just take a whole cake and cut off a slice, they actually take the time to make everything tiny and delicious. If I come in for just lunch, I usually get the "taste of the garden" which is a 1/2 sandwich (full size sandwich), soup and green salad. I've had high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, and it can't even hold a candle to the high tea here. As for not serving "loose tea" as one reviewer complained, they used to serve it loose with a strainer, but now they pack loose tea into a very large tea bag for the pot, so people wouldn't have to spill on themselves trying to strain the tea. If you notice, the large tea bag is a “fold over" type, which the loose tea has been packed in to. They also sell these types of loose tea bags in case people want to buy the loose tea, and pack it into a bag instead of using a strainer. If you don't want your tea packed in a bag, simply ask they serve it to you loose.

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Classic
By otb of Vancouver (8 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, October 6, 2009 - 10:30pm [Dine in]

There really aren't much places like this. It's such a great place for a few friends to get together and chat over tea and sweets. I ususally get the 'Demi' and it's filling. I find their mini sandwiches are better than their regular ones.
It's almost always busy, so making a reservation is a good idea.

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delicious breakfast!
By cupcakelover of Montreal / Vancouver (4 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - 6:20pm [Dine in]

I know that this place is known for High Tea...but I've actually never been there for High Tea! I have, however, frequently been there for breakfast....and it is AMAZING! The Secret Garden Breakfast Scone (A heart-shaped cheese scone lightly toasted and filled with scrambled eggs and bacon with a side of hasbrowns) is to die for, as is the French Toast Croissant stuffed with cream cheese, apples, and maple. I am always here with a friend, and we usually order one of each and share...these two dishes are so wonderful, I recommend them to EVERYONE!

Every time we've been here the service has been great. Maybe I happen to be there on good days, because according to a lot of other reviews the service isn't great...but I'll take my chances when an astounding selection of wonderful teas and the above mentioned treats are dangled in front of me! This place is really quaint and while a little pricey, it is a nice little treat every so often!

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Good tea, bad service, great competitive opportunity
By Celena of Vancouver (2 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, July 6, 2008 - 6:33pm [Dine in]

I've just come home from my 3rd or 4th tea at the Secret Garden. The teas there are lovely and the food is good (ok, it doesn't compare to the high teas available in England, but it's a pretty good effort for a Canadian shop).

But the service! It is so bad, that it occurred to me today that their poor service creates a great opportunity for someone to open a competitive tea shop near by and put these people out of business. I'd forgotten how bad the service was, but was soon reminded today, when I noticed that the same two scowling waitresses were working there as the last time I visited. These two women have this pained expression on their faces, like doing their job is a big favour to patrons. For example, I joined my party today after they had already ordered. I sat with them, waiting for a menu and for someone to take my order. I didn't mind waiting, as we were all chatting away, but finally a waitress came up to me and another late-comer, and asked in an exasperated tone if we were going to order or not. I said yes, we'd be happy to order, but we were just waiting to be offered menus, and for someone to ask for my order (the waitress was apologetic about her error, to her credit; but she shouldn't express exasperation to patrons in the first place). There were a couple of other examples of bad attitude, but it was more just their general moroseness (that may not be a real word, but I hope you get what I mean) that I found besmirched an otherwise a lovely afternoon tea experience.

I thought maybe I was being too hard on them, but I mentioned it to a friend who has gone there a lot because she lives in the area, and she wholeheartedly agreed, and started telling me her own stories of terrible service she's had there.

Anyway, if they just re-train or replace their two waitresses, or if no one opens a competitive tea shop, the Secret Garden should continue to do just fine.

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Tea....no longer fit for a queen
By elleuvagirl of Kerrisdale (1 Review)
Submitted Monday, December 10, 2007 - 2:18pm [Dine in]

Over the last several years, I have had occasion to visit The Secret Garden for their high tea, and while in the past it was quite delightful, the two most recent visits have been really disappointing. I mentioned this to a friend who had also been there in the last year and she felt the same way and now goes to either the Wedgwood or Sutton hotels for tea. I rather doubt I would go the Secret Garden again. With the exception of the lemon tart and the miniature scones & cream, the assortment of food now presented for their high tea is not even close to being worth $25.00 per person. The china is not attractive, worn and even cracked. Everything from the dust on the antique hutch to the deep scratches on the glass table top, left me feeling like it was no longer a place I would want to take someone for an extra special (expensive) treat.

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Best Tea in the Lower Mainland
By rkt of Richmond (1 Review)
Submitted Wednesday, May 30, 2007 - 8:46pm [Dine in]

Every once in awhile, we venture out to other restaurants for high tea but nothing comes close to Secret Garden. For the high tea - the sandwiches are always good and they will vary them, scones are wonderful and come with devon cream & raspberry jam, the lemon tarts are a particular favourite, but their chocolate desserts are usually just okay. Service is usually prompt and often if something goes wrong they'll give you a free dessert which is always nice. We've only had bad service once in all the years we've been going there. They have the best scones but if all you're getting is a scone they will sell out by early afternoon. They have really good hash browns with green onions. They also have a nice selection of teas and if you go during holidays they often have a harpist and special holiday teas (make a reservation though because it will be busy).

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For a very nice afternoon...
By westernwilson of Tsawwassen, BC (13 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - 1:31pm [Dine in]

As an antidote to the post-Christmas blues, the ladies of the family descended on Secret Garden for a nice afternoon tea. If you have never been for AT, you are served a delightful triple tiered tray with fussy little sandwiches on the bottom, then scones, jam and devon cream on the middle level, finishing with an assortment of tiny desserts on the top level of the tray. All with a pot of your favourite tea. It is a wonderful, leisurely meal great for socializing and relaxing.

The Secret Garden sandwiches and goodies were delectable! And the server was very warm, personable and attentive. We try to search out afternoon tea wherever we travel, and Secret Garden compares favourably to what is served at the Empress in Victoria.

Major Quibble:
The amount of Devon cream served was not only miniscule, it had to be shared between persons. Since most of us like the scone/jam/Devon cream section of the tea best, this put a huge and miserly crimp in the experience.

Minor Quibbles:
The ambience could be more warm and overstuffed.
The brand of tea is not the best we've ever had.
Teapots could be larger.
Staff had to be reminded to refill milk and cream jugs.

Note that in the run up to Christmas, special Christmas themed goodies are presented! So it is well worth going both before and after the holiday!

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tasty food
By tingting of Vancouver (6 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, March 2, 2009 - 7:20pm [Dine in]

I came in today to grab some sweets to take away. They were very tasty, but still overpriced in my opinion. I wouldn't have minded sitting down, but there were loud children everywhere and it seemed very hectic. Maybe it's quieter during school hours. Anyway, probably won't ever got there to sit down for an expensive tea, but if I have a few bucks to spend I may return for the little cakes and stuff.

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perfect girly tea time
By marina_emily of Vancouver (1 Review)
Submitted Saturday, February 21, 2009 - 1:36pm [Dine in]

My mom took me here for my birthday and we had high tea and it was amazing, all the pastries and little sandwiches were great and the tea itself was lovely. cute location and great ambiance. definitely a place i am going to return to and recommend to everyone whos looking for great tea without the stuffiness of some place like the wedgewood.

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