Afternoon tea is one of my stomach's favourite (and my wallet's least favourite) type of food and it's easy to see why - exotic tea, decadent scones, mini sandwiches, and beautiful pastries. For a long time, many of Vancouver's high tea destinations have been located downtown or in Kerrisdale. Thankfully for Richmonders, these past few years have brought our part of town a few tea cafes of our own, L'Opera being one of them. Located under the Marriott Hotel, L'Opera is almost invisible from the street but one look inside and you can tell that this little shop oozes with European influence.
My most recent visit to L'Opera features the Spring Summer 2015 High Tea Menu which comes in at $43/person + tax (what did I say about my wallet hating this place). Yes, this is one of the pricier high tea areas and hopefully after this review, you'll be able to decide for yourself if all that moolah is worth the three-tiers of decadence.
*sidenote: it's best to put in a reservation at least 2 days in advance*
escargot in garlic butter
3.5/5 - This is more of a "oh yea I guess it's pretty cool to eat snail" than a "wow those textures and flavours go really well together". It's good, but there was nothing really special about the snail.
summer vegetable quiche
3.5/5 - This quiche makes for a very hearty bite. Nice crispy shell and thick/creamy mixture of cheese and veggies.
lox and onion bun
3/5 - I've had quite a lot of mini sandwiches in my time and this one is really not much different than the rest. It really is just "smoked salmon", veggies, and a small bun.
pesto yolk vol au vent
4/5 - I've never had anything so eggy before but it's pretty good. Think of a crispy puff pastry with a runny egg yolk in the middle (yes, it gets kinda messy if you don't anticipate the runny yolk). A lot of flavour and texture going on here.
3/5 - I'm not a fan of avocado but this combination of avocado, tomato, and lightly grilled bread works. I do however, find it quite simple.
crab salad on baguette
3/5 - Your typical creamy crab salad on bread but a bit more seasoned.
seaweed abalone salad
2.5/5 - This is definitely not your typical high tea dish but hey, L'Opera really likes bringing some uncommon ingredients to the table. The combination of seaweed and abalone sound like they work but really..the flavour is borderline bland and salty (or something else I can't really put my finger on). I prefer ordering abalone in a different style to say the least.
chocolate mousse brownie + strawberry tart + choice of macaron
brownie: 4.5/5 - This is a VERY decadent bite of chocolate mousse and extremely rich. It's smooth, creamy, and soft. I'm not a fan of anything this chocolate-y but it was good nonetheless.
tart: 4.5/5 - I liked the simplicity of this strawberry tart and how it wasn't too sweet. The shortbread cookie disc gives a nice crunch as well.
macaron: 5/5 - L'Opera is known for their macarons - and for good reason! The filling isn't too sweet, but it's thick, creamy, and goes well with the chewy yet crunchy macaron shell.
fresh fruit pavlova
3.5/5 - The freshness of this pavlova contrasts nicely with the rest of the heavy and savoury items on the menu here. This is a light dessert topped with a bit of glazed fruits. I do, however find this a bit lacking in flavour.
3/5 - I personally like my eclairs with a hard shell to contrast with the filling inside and glaze outside. This one just tasted like a creamy mush.
matcha black sesame mini religieuse
4.5/5 - I really liked this spin off of a religieuse - it's cute and it brings some interesting flavours. The crispy shortbread disc works well with the creamy filling of the creme choux which is highlighted with a subtle taste of matcha.
guava raspberry yoghurt parfait
2.5/5 - Apologies for not having a picture for this one but this parfait is basically a small shot glass filled with layers of fruit gels and yoghurt. Personally I found this combination to be too tart and the consistency of the liquids together to be a bit unappealing.
complementary in house ice cream
N/A - Our server actually forgot to serve us our ice cream but gave us a few biscottis (which were pretty good) to make up for it.
Phew, that was a long list. Well now that you've got too see for yourself what this $43 high tea set looks like, I think you can come to a few conclusions on your own. It's quite obvious that L'Opera's tea set is not traditional and is definitely not your regular afternoon tea experience. They use ingredients like abalone, escargot, and have a few unusual menu options. I understand that the variety of ingredients used here is more expensive than most but I just didn't find it all that appealing. Maybe I'm too biased towards the traditional tea set with scones, jam, cucumber sandwiches, and little cakes to appreciate the unconventional tea menu here at L'Opera. Nevertheless, it was a good experience that I would recommend going to once or twice. I think I'll just stick to ordering macarons and other pastries.
R E V I E W.
+ food quality: 8/10
+ service: 8/10
+ price/affordability: 6.5/10
+ atmosphere: 10/10
+ overall: 8/10