Cally’s Teas is Grandma Male’s favourite place to purchase tea in the city, but since moving to their expanded digs on Whyte Avenue, they have been able to sell much more than just tea. With a kitchen, Cally’s is now equipped to sell baked goods, and even better, offer a full lunch service, including the option of high tea! Mack, Thom and I took Grandma Male to Cally’s just before Christmas to give their expanded menu a try.
Ready for high tea!
The shop itself is charming, shelves brimming with lovely handmade gifts (we spotted Veekee Workshop’s tea towels, for instance), and of course, their show stopping wall of teas. The dining area takes its place at the rear of the shop, anchored by a counter that resembled a wet bar for tea. Because there isn’t a distinct break between the shop and the dining space, we weren’t sure if it would be a bit awkward holding a conversation while those around us browsed for last-minute Christmas gifts, but it turned out we needn’t have worried. With seating comprised of mismatched vintage furniture, it felt a bit like we were having lunch in a friend’s warm and funky kitchen.
I will say that it was a bit odd that we weren’t actually given a menu to peruse after we were seated, but instead were asked as we were removing our winter gear which of the two afternoon tea options we wanted to choose. Given this was our first time, we would have appreciated some time to acquaint ourselves with the menu, but perhaps the staff were just cognizant of time and wanted to ensure the kitchen was prepared to expedite our order. Based on the recommendation of the server, we opted for the $25/person high tea option, which added a savoury quiche or bread pudding to round out the small bites and scones offered through the $20/person afternoon tea. Though we did enjoy our experience, it is worth noting that we did think it was a bit on the pricey side, given our bill registered over $100.
We started off the meal by each choosing a tea from the aforementioned tea wall. A server was available to provide guidance, helpful given the overwhelming number of choices. Grandma Male decided on Formosa oolong, while I stuck with a traditional earl grey, and Mack and Thom shared a pot of seasonal egg nog tea.
Perusing the “Great Wall of Tea”
As expected, the china at Cally’s is absolutely beautiful, radiant pieces almost too pretty to use. The tiered servers were dainty but functional, a sturdy handle at the top more than capable of supporting the buttery heft at each level.
My gorgeous and festive tea cup
As we nibbled our way through the food, we were reminded of how social high tea is, because of the sharing (and passing) of communal trays of small bites.
The homemade crackers with goat cheese were a hit around the table, the mild spread melding nicely with its buttery base. Mack and I aren’t usual fans of cucumber sandwiches, but Cally’s version featured the inclusion of fragrant lemon zest, which added a zip of freshness to the tea staple. The quiche was meant to be a savoury item, but it could have almost passed for dessert – the onions had been caramelized into submission, while the tomato added another layer of sweetness. The pastry was also very well prepared, crispy and flaky.
Without a doubt, the scones were the standout. Oh so buttery and slightly sweet, they were consumed as a dessert, served with jam and whipped cream. We were all plum full by this time, but didn’t let the last few bites of scone go to waste. Mack and I agreed that we would be back for these. The dessert tray also featured some tea-studded shortbread cookies. We packed them up for later, and enjoyed them at home. The tea aroma was noticeable on the nose, but less so on the palate.
Service throughout our meal was quite attentive, though we probably interacted with four different staff/servers that afternoon. In that way it felt a little less formal than high tea services at other establishments in Edmonton, which suited us just fine.
If you’re looking for a different kind of lunch experience, or, just feel like nibbling your way through an afternoon, I’d highly recommend high tea at Cally’s!
10151 Whyte Avenue