Tea and brie at The Tea Party

The Tea Party Cafe

Hillary Lutes is an inherently cheap vegetarian journalist-in-training at Carleton. She consumes copious amounts of coffee and chocolate to fuel her writing endeavours and public-transit trips across the city.

Ethiopian food was supposed to be next on the vegetarian bucket list, but Sunday afternoon tea with a visiting friend and roommate was in order.

I was ravenous, so the Tea Party’s large banner across the front of its converted house-to-café digs advertising their vegetarian lunch menu was a welcome sight.

My sandwich choice was easy: I saw the words ‘brie’ and ‘guacamole’, and the contest was up. This toasted guacamole tomato sandwich was stuffed with tomatoes, peppers (one half was green, the other half was red), creamy avocado spread and melted brie.

Melted brie and pesto soup

Quite simply, this creation was delicious and filling. I might be biased, since I consider cheese melted with avocado to be the best culinary combination ever, but it was perfectly grilled with a generous amount of ingredients.

This sandwich inspired me to make the (possibly unwise) purchase of a wheel of brie at the grocery store later that day. Brie is always a dangerous purchase, because obviously one is required to gobble the full wheel in as short a time frame as possible. I proceeded to eat replicas of this sandwich at home for two days, until the brie was devoured.

Visiting friend Nikki tried a tandoori tofu sandwich. “They know what they’re doing with spices,” she said, but thought the tofu could have been cooked a little longer.

All sandwiches come with a choice of soup or salad. There were two soups of the day: a vegan spicy sweet potato, and a pesto soup with tomatoes and macaroni. We ordered both, and were sadly very disappointed with the dishes.

$7 soup and sandwich combination

Both soups tasted water-based, instead of broth. We all agreed the spicy sweet potato would have been much better if it was a puree of the rooty vegetable, as the thin consistency was unsatisfying, even with the spicy kick.

I was expecting the pesto soup to be a bowl of mozzarella-basil goodness, but sadly it was also watery. I recommend going for the salad option to accompany your meal – roommate Hilary had it and said it was very fresh. 

While we were there, the café was bustling. There was a baby shower in full swing, with balloons and ribbons, and an amazingly elegant pregnant guest of honour. I suspect the spot is usually quiet and cosy – the dining area is small but stacked with an assortment of small tables and couches lending an image of peaceful tea-drinking and relaxed conversation.

As the name suggests, the Tea Party is all about the tea, with an entire wall of loose-leaf blends in large glass capsules. There is also a considerably smaller wall of coffee options located behind the display case of baked goods.

Wall of loose-leaf teas

I didn’t even know where to start, so Nikki and I started grabbing the jars to get a whiff of the leaves. I was searching for something that smelled like fruity candy, which lead me to a lemon mango blend that poured a vibrant, fragrant pink.

Steeped lemon mango goodness

Nikki and Hilary both had roobios blends: Georgia peach for Nikki and Bourbon Street vanilla for Hilary.

Tea comes by the pot for $3 and was a delicious accompaniment to our vegetarian sandwiches.

Next time you’re in the mood for a classy cup of tea, a fresh baked good, or a delicious sandwich, York Street has a cute lunch destination waiting for you!

Thanks Hillary! We can’t wait to see what’s up next! Do you have a vegetarian suggestion for Hillary? Leave a note below!