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Nestled way out in the wild west of NDG, is a little Celtic-themed bakery café which also does a killer afternoon tea. No, the café is not Harry Potter-themed (see the explanation behind the name here).

I had made our reservation three weeks in advance, and was late due to unexpected road construction and detour (it’s usually quicker for me to drive to NDG from Old Montreal, but thanks to the construction it would probably be quicker if we took the metro and bus next time). We went on a rainy Saturday, and were seated by the window on benches, where butter and charming place settings had already been laid out. The walls were decorated with vintage aprons, ranging from Irish linen to social commentary (my husband had to explain the “he thinks/she thinks” one), and the tiny but neat kitchen area in the back was completely open to view.

First, we were given a tray of sample teas to smell and select our teas. This was one of my favourite parts, since I love tasting things and comparing flavours and aromas. The house teas had “Celtic” in front of their names. We were assured that the most popular tea was the Celtic blend, and that it would be no problem to change our tea selection if we didn’t like the one we selected. I went for the Celtic blend since I like black teas that can hold up to a lot of milk and sugar, but others were tempting as well. We each got our own pots of tea, and our own baskets of warm little scones. There were two types of butter, zesty lemon curd, homemade whiskey marmalade, and homemade raspberry jam.

Next came the quintessential tiered tray of buttery egg salad sandwiches (made with homemade mayonnaise), wonderfully seasoned cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon blinis, lemon squares, date squares, homemade shortbread (which my husband swore was Walker’s, but I knew differently), a pumpkin cake, and others I’m sure I’m forgetting. By the time we got to the sweets tier, we were totally full and sated. Perhaps the strategy next time should be to finish the sandwiches, and then pack up the uneaten sweets to go.

Afternoon tea for two people was $50 in cash. While pricey for lunch, I think it was worth it, since afternoon tea is a special occasion sort of meal. Gryphon D’Or was cosy and it felt comfortable being there. Service was friendly and attentive but not hovering. My husband immediately declared the tea to be inauthentic because it lacked clotted Devonshire cream, but I reasoned that perhaps this was Irish-style afternoon tea, which might be different than the English version. Everything tasted wonderful and the presentation was exactly what one expects for a traditional afternoon tea. We arrive around 1:15pm, and didn’t leave for two hours. Two happy and delicious hours well spent.

Metro: Villa Maria

5968 Monkland Avenue and Royal Avenue

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