At Montreal’s Gryphon d’Or, high tea comes with tiaras

Screen grab from Gryphon d’Or’s website,

by Barbara Moser

Burnt orange walls and wooden tables and chairs give this cozy tearoom a warm and welcoming feeling. Paintings by Montreal artist Shirley Katz lined the walls when we visited Gryphon d’Or for lunch.

We were invited to find a table and choose our lunch from the blackboard menu near the open kitchen from three “always” selections of quiche, soup meal and sconitches (sandwiches on scones), and such daily specials as ginger chicken.

All meals are $13.10, tax included, and come with a fresh baked scone, salad with house dressing, serve-yourself tea or coffee with unlimited refills, and a homemade dessert.

We have tasted the roasted veggie quiche and the sconitch, meatloaf and veggie nut burgers.

Everything is personal at Gryphon, starting with owner Donna Malin, who acts as hostess, server, and well … how to put it … like you’ve just stepped into her home.

She bought the place from her former employer, Peggy Regan, who now runs the bakery of the same name next door and sells home-baked scones and shortbread, beautiful and tasty little squares and made-to-order cakes. Donna imports her scones and desserts from Peggy.

Our veggie burger was light and tantalizing with its array of ingredients and spices. Donna let us in on some secrets: carrots, celery, onions, quinoa flakes, Kamut flour, oats, flour made with walnuts and sunflower seeds, eggs and spices. It’s baked like a meatloaf and served in a fresh scone with a layer of cheese.

The quiche was equally good and we all raved about the light, flakey crust (again from Peggy) and the delicate flavours of roasted peppers, sweet potatoes and mushrooms, not to mention the cheese. Everything is baked, not fried.

The tour de force came at the end—sumptuous dessert consisting of a small, light crêpe filled with berries and cream and topped with fresh strawberries.

Donna wanted us to try the lemon curd she serves as part of the afternoon high tea, so she brought us more scones and the fabulously sinful curd made only of egg yolks, sugar, lemon and butter.

The high tea ($25) includes an assortment of teas, little sandwiches, shortbread, and scones with all manner of toppings, some with whiskey, some without, and berry jam and lemon curd. You must order in advance, but you can stop by daily after 3 pm for tea or coffee and scones with toppings ($6).

One regular patron offered her comments on Gryphon, as did other diners at the front of the restaurant.

“You feel so warm and at home. You’re always welcomed,” said Debbi Jardine, passing over a tiara for me to try on. Donna has dress-up for the little ones and the not-so-little. Molly and I wore tiaras for dessert and felt like princesses.

I returned a week later with Irwin in tow and we had the scone burgers, his meatloaf and mine veggie with carrot ginger soup on the side and the perfectly dressed salad. Dessert was apple crisp and chocolate cake, both of them sumptuous. How is it that we missed this little Monkland gem in all the years they’ve been around? Could it be that regulars are keeping Gryphon to themselves?

It was packed for lunch, but Donna tells me evenings are rather empty.

People haven’t learned that dinner is served Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings with different specials and the same regular specials of quiche or sconwiches. The first Tuesday of every month is open mike with invited guitarists.

We promised to bring the moms for Sunday brunch and Donna promised to make them happy, which I know she will.

This tearoom is not typical of Montreal. It feels as though it belongs in Vermont or Upstate New York. We’re just lucky to have discovered Gryphon right here in our own neighbourhood.

Try it! You’ll love it. And send in your own reviews and we’ll publish them on our website.

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