1414 Dundas Street West - Toronto, ON
Much to my dismay, I have not had the opportunity to sit down in an “afternoon/high tea” setting since my birthday last July, and it has been one of my goals for 2019 to visit at least a handful of (new-to-me) tea rooms. The Kitten and the Bear is a local (Toronto) business in the Parkdale area that specializes in handmade ‘French confiture style’ fruit preserves, as well as freshly baked buttermilk scones. The shop has recently gone under major renovations, including a brand new address - 1414 Dundas Street West, and added seating to accommodate up to 10 guests! Their storefront not only functions as a tasting room, but as a production facility and retail boutique!
A couple weekends ago, I “dragged” my fiance all the way to the west end of the city to sit down for tea, in a much fancier setting than we’re typically used to. I made this reservation for two nearly a month in advance, and although I am in no way a morning person, I still ended up standing outside of The Kitten and The Bear at a quarter to 10, anxiously waiting for their door to open. Walking through the door for the first time, I was met with the most amazingly irresistible smell! Just warm, buttery goodness…
Not too long after being seated, we were very warmly welcomed by the owners, and given the tea menu to peruse. My fiance opted for Bellocq’s Milk Oolong throughout, while I started with Barry’s Gold before switching over to Sloane Tea’s Heavenly Cream. It was awesome to see 30+ tea options so readily available, despite personally choosing to go the more “traditional” route. For me, there’s just something about a robust, malty black tea (with a generous splash of milk!) that goes perfectly with scones and jam. And speaking of scones, they were HUGE. We got one each (and purchased an additional one to share), accompanied by double Devon cream, and four different seasonal preserves to taste test, as you can see in the picture below. Some jams were sweeter than others, but all were delicious and special in their own way. The strawberry one made for a classic strawberry shortcake moment, but in my opinion, the Damson Plum & Earl Grey especially stood out as my number one. A genius combination, although I would have loved to try their Banana, Bourbon & Vanilla Bean flavour as well.
Apart from the artisan preserves and yummy buttermilk scones, owners Sophie and Bobby have done an excellent job of creating a cozy, homey environment for everyone that walks into their business, whether they’re sitting down or grabbing something to go. The decor throughout has gotten a true upgrade, compared to the original location. From the brick walls and chandeliers to the vintage teacups and bright florals. It is elegant looking, rustic, whimsical, inviting, intimate, engaging, all of the above. I really loved that after finishing my meal, I was able to wander over to the other side of the shop, into the area where they have all their jams available for purchase! I most definitely will have to go back to pick up a number of items, including: a package of their signature scone mix, “freshly baked scone” scented candle, and seafoam green teapot!
I understand that KATB’s pricing has gone up since moving locations, and even though it is a bit steep, I didn’t mind paying for the experience that I got. (A lot of places serving afternoon or high tea in Toronto are priced around $50.) I enjoyed myself thoroughly at the end of the day, and left more than a little bit satisfied. It was my first time visiting, but it certainly will not be my last!
What’s your favourite aspect about attending afternoon tea? Sound off in the comments below!
Stay tuned for a “classic” tea combination in my upcoming post!
Until we steep again…