LA TEA DA (2305 Queen East, at Maclean, 416-686-5787). Two-course meals for $20 per person, including all taxes, tip and tea. Open Tuesday to Sunday 11:30 am to 6 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier free. Rating: NNNN
La Tea Da is quaintness exemplified: eclectic china, teapots perched on tealight candle-warmers, robin's-egg-blue walls and countryside furnishings. You can even wear a tiara from the collection if you really want to get into the spirit of things.
Louisiana gumbo, the soup of the day ($4), is a bizarre but nourishing addition to the otherwise British menu. High tea ($20) includes a pot of tea, a selection of tea sandwiches, scones with butter, clotted cream and strawberry and raspberry jams, and a variety of cakes and pastries.
Afternoon tea ($15) is the same but without dessert, and cream tea ($10) is only a pot of tea and scones. The sandwiches are classic tea fare: crustless, bite-sized yummy pinwheels and squares arranged around the bottom tier of a three-tiered china "tree." There's avocado with tomato, summery cucumber with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and a refreshing albeit dry egg salad with mint.
You could come to La Tea Da for the homemade scones alone. They're a perfect balance of moist and crumbly, buttery richness. And since this is no stuffy teahouse, we feel perfectly at ease smothering them in obscene amounts of all the fixings.
We're disappointed more by the idea that dessert is by Dufflet than we are by the pastries themselves. They're all delish, but we like the image of a matronly Englishwoman in the back rolling out perfect pastry by hand, rather than desserts á la delivery truck.
For my pot of tea I choose Irish Breakfast, described as bright and lively and best enjoyed with milk, which it is and I do. We expect the chocolate tea to be a sad sit-in for hot chocolate, but it's surprisingly full-bodied and complex.
Full of tea and treats, we make our way to bask in the beach's sun. I bet they rarely do that after high tea in England!