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Pull up to the London Bus Stop for afternoon tea

May, 2009

When you’re invited for afternoon tea at the London Bus Stop on Ste. Catherine across from Westmount Square, you might expect it to look classic and old-fashioned, but this café/teahouse is anything but conventional.

Owner Jeremy Searle, former city counsellor for Côte des Neiges NDG, describes it as “so un-cool that it’s retro cool.” Right in the middle of the room is a London telephone box. A food counter stretches across one side and fresh flowers adorn nearly every surface in well-arranged bouquets.

The transportation theme is evident. Searle drove a London bus 30 years ago and says that he is passionate about transportation. You can buy the tiny replicas of London buses and taxis that are on display behind the food counter.

There is no invasive music playing in this relaxing space. Instead there is a flat screen TV displaying beautiful, calming scenes.

Since we were invited to enjoy their afternoon tea ($10 per person), we were immediately greeted by Searle’s partner, Jeannie Oh, who took our coats and hung them up in the back saying that coats were not allowed by the tables. We were led to a round table covered in white linen, adorned with porcelain teacups.

This was the first time Barbara, my dining companion, had ever experienced afternoon tea and she was like a kid in a candy shop – or shall I say tea shop. I was also excited, because I hadn’t had afternoon tea since I was a child. We were eager to begin our adventure, especially when Searle referred to Jeannie as the “kitchen genius.”

We were offered a choice of Earl Grey or English Breakfast served in a glass teapot. Then came the lovely little crustless cucumber sandwiches with thin slices of cucumber and just the right amount of mayo and seasoning. Next came two warm scones and little plates of strawberry and lemon cake, oatmeal cookies, small pieces of brownies and four fresh strawberries. Delightful, delectable, delicious and divine all describe the desserts.

While we savoured, Searle quoted Shakespeare, told us about his children’s successes – and it turns out that I know his son. Jeremy and Jeannie also told us about the variety of people who come for afternoon tea, including birthday celebrants, grandchildren with grandparents in tow, and a pair of starstruck Dawson lovers who came day after day.

With reservations, scones are served warm with jam and cream. Or you could order them diabetic-friendly. If you are looking for something more hearty, London Bus Stop offers a full selection of somewhat British fare ranging from a very affordable $5.50 to $8.50. I arrived lunchless and before starting my cucumber sandwiches, I sampled a cabbage roll and a piece of quiche. I was offered a taste of the beef stew, but had to decline.

The generous portion of spinach and tomato quiche was a lot of quiche, rather than a lot of crust. The crust was cakey as opposed to flaky. The cabbage roll was excellent. The cabbage was crispy and created a perfect crust for the filling of ground meat topped with a delectable tomato sauce. Two cabbage rolls with veggies are $8.50. Quiche served with soup or salad is $5.50. Every addition to your meal, including coffee, soup or salad, costs a dollar.

Breakfast begins at 6 a.m. and features two slices of Première Moisson bread, two extra-large eggs, two slices of real cheddar, two slices of capicolla ham and tea or coffee for $6.20.

There is a large terrace outside which should soon start filling up as it is the only one on the block and it’s on the right side of the street, meaning it gets little exposure to the hot sun.

London Bus Stop, located at 4126 Ste. Catherine W., is an affordable and delectable addition to the downtown core. As part of the Dawson College community, we will surely frequent this fine eatery again. Reservations for afternoon tea are encouraged. Catering services are available, including afternoon tea catering. Call 514-931-5571 or visit



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