High tea sets luxury tone at Chateau Laurier

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Although a cup of take-away designer coffee can cost as much as $4 these days at your neighborhood Starbucks, no mug of fancy java on the go can match the luxury of being served a fresh pot of Egyptian chamomile or Earl Grey tea in the elegant, relaxed setting of a fine white-linen restaurant.

So it is that Zoe's Lounge at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel is the place to be in Ottawa for enjoying a spot of tea, a scone with a dollop of Devonshire cream or perhaps an open-faced sandwich bedecked with Ontario goat cheese and figs.

Zoe's offers three tea menus: traditional Afternoon Tea, at a cost of $24; Canadian High Tea, $32; and Champagne Tea, $49.

Guests can choose from 14 loose teas and then watch the brewing process as professionally trained servers explain the who's, what's and why's of teas during the process.

The Afternoon Tea, or low tea, starts with a seasonal fresh fruit cup, followed by fruit tartelettes, tea cake, scones with Devonshire cream and strawberry jam, three finger sandwiches and, of course, a pot of tea.

The Canadian High Tea includes fresh peaches marinated in port wine, scones, three open-face sandwiches, a Canadian cheese board comprising Sir Laurier d'Arthabasca, 5-year-old Balderson white cheddar and Quebec "Borgonzola" cheese.

The Champagne Tea is impressive, what with Moet & Chandon Blue Label Nectar Imperial, fresh strawberries with chocolate fondue and hors d'oeuvres such as blini with Quebec sturgeon caviar, foie gras and truffle mousse.

Tea at Zoe's is just one of the virtues of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. The property has defined class and luxury for visitors to this city since it opened in the spring of 1912. The hotel's dining venues also include Wilfred's, the main dining room, and La Terrasse, a seasonal outdoor venue.

"Of course, the term 'luxury' means different things to different people," said Deneen Perrin, the property's general manger. "But there is no doubt that the special touches that come along with staying in Ottawa's grand chateau ... are key to any luxury stay, as is unparalleled service."

Perrin also pointed to a Fairmont Hotels and Resorts program called Fairmont Gold, which she called a "hotel within a hotel."

Guests who book Fairmont Gold enjoy deluxe continental breakfast in a private lounge, free high-speed Internet access, a private concierge, 55 specially designated guest rooms, light secretarial services and more.

For more information, log on to www.fairmont.com/laurier.

To contact reporter Joe Rosen, send e-mail to [email protected].

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