Spot #5 :: Lovejoy’s Tea Room

Our 5th Spot:

Lovejoy’s Tea Room

1351 Church Street  San Francisco, CA 94114

http://www.lovejoystearoom.com

front

For having a 4.5 stars Yelp rating, I expected a lot from this place.  Off the bat, I NEVER got a live person on the phone when I called in.  I didn’t like that.  From wanting to place my reservation, to wanting to change my headcount, to wanting to ask where the nearest Bart station was, to how parking was out there-  every time I called, no one ever picked up my call.  So, I was stuck having to wait for their call back or get tired of waiting + find the info myself somehow.  Are you that busy that you can’t pick up a phone and say “Thank you for calling Lovejoy’s Tea Room, may I please put you on hold?”, before you get a free minute to answer a simple question??  To me, this already speaks volumes about your customer service…

The ambiance was okay.  I thought it was more “old” than “vintage.”  It didn’t have all the cutesie things I wanted from a Tea Room or Tea House.  Their website says “in a most unique and unpretentious setting.  We believe our tea room reflects the diversity if San Francisco, blending together the traditions of tea service with an eclectic, quirky, and playful spirit.”  I wasn’t impressed.  See for yourself…

decor 1

decor 2

decor 3

decor 4

decor 5

decor 6

There was a lot to read when you order.  Front and back!?  (If you watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S, you know what I’m referring to there!)  There are 8 tea service selections to choose from.  I like that we got to choose the tea sandwiches that were included.  We weren’t just given the 4 kinds they made that day, like other tea rooms typically do.  Again, a lot though.  There are 17 options of tea sandwiches, including their Special of the day.  They also have a Pub Fare column of foods, like Shepherd’s Pie + Quiche, etc.  They have a good selection of teas, too.  I enjoyed that part.  Not too many, but a good enough amount that you have the excitement of choosing which one you will enjoy for the afternoon…and not feel like you have homework!

table          setting

sign          tier

The food was good!  Nothing spectacular (that’s the phrase I kept saying all afternoon), but good.  For my two tea sandwich selections, I chose the Special which was a turkey with cranberry chardonnay (I THINK?? It was some kind of wine, that made it sound too good to pass up!) mustard and the chicken + asparagus.  I reeeeally liked my asparagus sandwich!!  I’m a sucker for all things asparagus anyway, but I was not expecting how they prepared it!?  At first, it looked like avocado.  Then, I realized the asparagus was sort of smooshed (that’s the best word I could describe it with sorry!) in there!  I loved it.  I was not a fan, however, of how they served it to us.  So-  3 of us at our table ordered the Queen’s Tea.  We had 1 tier for all of our orders.  Top tier was fruit for 3, middle tier were our scones with fixings, then the bottom-  I mean, look at it!  Can YOU make sense of it??  The server was nice enough to explain who’s was who’s, but once he left we wondered again.  It seemed they put each of our two tea sandwich selections on top of each other, cut that in four, then lined em next to each other on the bottom tier!!?!  VERY confusing.  I thought 2 slices were one sandwich…it was hard.  Once we figured it out, we still had to guess again every time we went back for another slice.  We did get a complete 2 sandwiches, which was nice.  So at least nobody was left hungry.  The scones-  eh.  I couldn’t tell if they were blueberry or currant, but whatever they were there were a ton of em!!  I cut mine open, and barely saw any batter?!  It was speckled everywhere.  I took a few bites, but that was all I could handle.  Could not wait for my crumpet though!!  Since my first time having the perfect one at Crown & Crumpet, that’s what I look for on the menu.  Was happy to see em on this one’s.  They came later in our tea service, and were served fresh.  Even better right?!  Um, they got soggy!  I was so disappointed.  It was like eating an eggy piece of bread.  (Insert sad face here.)  At the end of your tea service, they come with a tray of petit fours, tell you what flavors each are, then you are allowed to choose ONE.  I think for the price we pay, we coulda got two more each!  Just sayin…  And there are no other sweets, just those.

My tea choice was F A N T A S T I C !!  I chose the Black Vanilla (vanilla oil and pieces of vanilla pod give this mellow tea its light, sweet taste).  I love me some black tea.  And the vanilla part of it sounded intriguing + comforting.  SO GLAD I chose what I did!  It smelled heavenly!!  I joked to my girls that I just wanted to set my nostrils on the rim of my teacup and stay like that forever!  But-  sometimes teas smell delicious, then taste horrible.  Nope!  Not this one!  I got a two-fer.  I think I was the only one at our table that asked to be topped off (meaning they add hot water to your loose leaf pot of tea) 3 times!  I didn’t even taste anyone else’s, for the simple fact that I felt I would be missing out of more of my precious Black Vanilla tea selection!  Let’s see, the other girls chose their: Passion Fruit (dried passion fruit gives this tea its tropical flavor), Mango (Ceylon tea and pieces of ripe mango merge to create this fruity treat), Strawberry (black tea, flavored with pieces of dried strawberry), Decaf Chocolate Truffle (this rich and creamy decaffeinated tea contains actual bits of chocolate truffle), and Earl Grey (its unique flavor comes from the natural oil of Bergamot).  All my girls were happy with their choices!  They came to top off anytime you wanted, and each pot of tea came with strainers.

*Note: tea descriptions are taken directly from Lovejoy’s menu.

Customer service was good.  Not bad, but not fantastic either.  I mean, they did their job.  But, I didn’t see any extra efforts made for my enjoyment or for a better experience.  Maybe I’ve had better treatment at other tea houses, I don’t know.  But for a 4.5 star place, I thought they could have been a bit warmer.  Our server did take several shots, from each of our cameras (I know, and there were 6 of us!).  But not without making a snarky remark “Maybe you all should exchange phone numbers…”  He. He. He.  #jokingnotjoking  So what, we each asked you to take our group picture?  “Photographer” may not be in your job description, but we asked nicely + thanked you nicely.  Coulda done with out that comment babe.

Overall = nice experience.  Would I come back?  Maybe not.  Would DEFINITELY visit their sister antique shop across the street again though!  And for sure pick up some of that loose leaf Black Vanilla tea!!

The English Rose – part 2

Every month or so, my SIL + I have a date.  After visiting The English Rose Tea Room last month, we couldn’t wait to go back.  Why not for our date!?  I’m SO GLAD we did!!  We got to try more of the teas we were curious about the last time, but didn’t get to have.  And I starved myself, so I had an appetite ready for ALL the tea sandwiches + savories this time!  :)

[Disclosure:  I wondered if I should bring my professional camera for this visit, even though it was an off-Tour stop.  My husband discouraged me from bringing it, since it was just going to be a casual date with my sister.  So-  SORRY in advance!!  These pics are all taken with just my iPhone 4!]

food

Our server was a sweetheart!  She had just started working there a month ago.  She was very swift with her service, and tended to us so lovingly throughout our visit.  I forgot to mention in my last post about this spot: an OCDers dream!!  They bring you hot towels!!?!  So nice huh?  During the month of November, the tea room was celebrating their 10 year anniversary.  She brought us a complimentary celebratory sparkling cider and offered us the tea of the day.  Today’s was Lisa’s Sweetheart Tea (I think??), it was a chocolate raspberry rose tea.  Smelled delicious, and tasted wonderful.  We ordered the Pumpkin (again OF COURSE, pumpkin-freaks we both are) + Birthday Blend first.  The Pumpkin obviously was just as perfect as it was when we had it first.  In heaven with that one.  We were so happy with our decision in ordering the Birthday Blend.  It was so nice!!  It was what you would expect a ‘birthday cake’ flavor tea to taste like.  It was so creamy + comforting.  I could have had that one exclusively for the rest of the afternoon, and would have been content.  But, we had more teas to try!  The other 2 pots we exchanged for were my sister’s choice, the Almond Joy (I absolutely adore the creamer, so I thought this one would be similar), and my pick the Lavender Lace (I’m fond of lavender, and then “lace” makes it just sound so pretty!?).  The Almond Joy was a fail!  It smelled like playdough!!?!  I mean, it wasn’t BAD.  We just didn’t like it.  I even told my sister to pour the rest of hers back into the teapot, since we knew we wouldn’t be having any more of it.  :/  The Lavender Lace was just delightful!  It smelled like the spa And you were about to get a massage!?  Hehe.  But it tasted incredible.  Perfect for our finishing tea.

Okay, the food…  I was stuffed!!

roll

This was the stuffing roll.  Yes, I said STUFFING!!  It was remarkable!  I’m a stuffing FAN, so when she described this one I knew I was going to have it first.  It was interesting + delicious.  Wrapped with a spinach tortilla (I’m guessing), and -BONUS- the stuffing had cranberry in it!

sweet potato

When our server said “sweet potato tart,” my eyes became big like that one emoji with the huge circle eyes!?  I looove sweet potato.  This was as yummy as it sounds.  A nice mix of sweet potato in there, with a nice flakey tart.

croissant

This was their salad sandwich.  A perfect mix.  Very filling + a wonderful addition to the tier of tea sandwiches.

There was also an egg + black olive on wheat.  Awesome combo right?!  Tried it, but only had a bite.  I thought it was bland.  And the cucumber option had green onion in it.  I don’t do green onion, so I stayed faaar away from that one.  My sister liked both of hers though!

I of course had my scone.  Plain scone with clotted cream, lemon curd + strawberry preserves.  The crispy edges of their scone makes it addicting!  The sweets tier had so many GOOD THINGS!  I liked everything I had.  Ate em so fast, no picture!!  I started with the French macaron that was staring at me the whole time.  I believe it was lavender flavored.  I joked with my sister that it smelled/tasted like shampoo!?  It did!!  But, even so, I ate the whole thing!!  The texture + filling was perfect for a French macaron.  Then, the petit four was calling me!  I have these things once a month, at every tea party.  They’re pretty much all the same, in my book.  But this one, this one was terrific!!  I inhaaaaled it.  Ugh-  so they had this pecan bar.  So chewy + crunchy + gooey!!  I made out with that thing!!?!  I was sad that my sister didn’t have hers, but so happy that I had another opportunity to relive that pecan goodness!  :)

my cupcake          her cupcake

They sent us home with these lovely lemon curd cupcakes!  (We coulda had em there, but we didn’t have anymore room!?)  Another complimentary celebratory treat!  Oh these were good!  Not too sweet + not too lemony.  The sprinkles on top were nice too!  ;)

All-in-all, a SPECTAULAR AFTERNOON!  They got all A+’s from me.  Still maaaaany more teas to try (I mean, they have over a hundred of em), so I’m sure we’ll be back again.  Just 2 more weeks and I get to have Tea again!!  Check back for our thoughts on Spot #5…

Spot #4 :: The English Rose Tea Room & Gifts

Our 4th Spot:

The English Rose Tea Room & Gifts

163 West Neal Street  Pleasanton, CA 94566

http://www.theenglishrose-pleasanton.com

front back

We walked in just as a baby shower party was being seated.  I think the hostess thought we were with them, so we were kind of ignored + left to be standing around.  I was beginning to be perturbed, when our server caught eyes with me.  I told her we weren’t with the big party, and she took care of us right away.  There was 6 of us.  We were sat in the corner to the left of the place.  By the way, UL-TRA CUUUTE!!  It’s a tiny place, very intimate.  All the decorations were gorgeous and ‘to the T’ with respects to tea houses.  (Or ‘to the Tea!’  Hehe.)  However, I was slightly uncomfortable as we were so squished!?  I felt like both my knees were touching each of my girlfriends’ to the left + right of me.  And my boobs-  preeetty much resting on the table.  LOL.  I wasn’t sure where to put my purse.  They also have really cute pillows on each chair (that were comfortable, but more in the way in my opinion).

chandelier          table inside          shop

As you sit down, your server comes and gives you some sort of sugar biscuit then offers you their feature blend of the day.  Today’s was: Victoria’s Harvest Blend.  A mix of apricot + almond.  Right off the bat, you can smell the almond.  Oh my it was delicious!!  She then explained we get UNLIMITED TEA!!?!  We were allowed 2 pots of tea per table (we had 2), and we can exchange the pot for another flavor at any time.  And boy, did they have a LOT of flavors!  I thought that was good + bad, as there are plenty to try but it does make it hard to select.  They offered close to a HUNDRED TEAS!!

teas

At our visit, we tried:

Chocolate Mint – Smelled incredible!  A table favorite, but I thought the smell was stronger than the flavor.  Not bad though!

Pumpkin – My all time fave of the day!!  I’m a sucker for pumpkin-flavored stuff, and this tea was delectable!!  It was ultra “clovey” (word of the day: had a strong clove flavor), and made for a very interesting tea!

Strawberry Kiwi – I didn’t taste this one as I’m not much into fruity teas, but my girlfriend said it was good.  Not great, as it was rather bland.  But, not horrible either.

Passion Fruit – Didn’t try, but gf said it was lovely!

Crème Brulee – Gulped my last cup of the almond one down to make sure I tried this one!  It was nice smelling, and a perfect finishing tea.

Mango – Again, didn’t try but the table said it was good!

teapot          teacup

The food came out in the usual 3 tier set up.  Sandwiches on the bottom, a few savories in the middle, and scones + petit fours on top.  I went for the scone first.  Fluffy middle + crispy edges, still warm.  Plain scone, which I’m starting to really enjoy (I can appreciate the fixings more!).  The clotted cream was thick + firm.  I’m used to a looser consistency, but I liked this one.  The lemon curd was homemade!  Nice touch.  Then, they offered strawberry jam.  I can’t give a fair review on the food, because I wasn’t really feeling having too much of it.  I tried to at least take a bite out of everything, so that I can comment.  There were new flavors than the saaame ole sandwiches, but nothing that really excited me.  They offered one with sundried tomato, an egg with green onion (love me some egg salad, but I despise green onion), a chicken salad with cranberry, and of course the infamous cucumber.  The savories, I liked.  They had one with mushroom and a quiche-like one with butternut squash (…I hope I’m getting these right, because I totally forgot everything that our server explained as soon as she walked away!?).  The sweets were alright.  The highlight of that tier was this mini pumpkin cheesecake thing.  Again, I really only had BITES of stuff.  Take it for what it is.

food          bites

Their service was impeccable.  Our server was just lovely.  Explained everything as it came, was prompt in our requests, and just a total sweetheart.  The owner came to our table, and we had a nice little chat about the tour.  The service really impressed me.  At first I was annoyed that we weren’t seated right away, but as our visit continued the service just kept getting better + better.  It was really hard to say anything negative in my testimonial, as they were just so wonderful to us.  But-  I will always be HONEST with you (my readers!  ;)  ), as that’s what you deserve.  I would come back again for the teas, definitely.  Actually, I can’t wait to come back, as there were lots more on their tea menu that I really wanted to try!  I hope you all do, and please share which ones you enjoyed!?

Throwback Thursday

First Time

I was curious as to how long it’s been since I hosted my first Tea Party.  November 19, 2011.  Almost three years since I fell in love with all this cuteness!!

What originally sparked my interest…!?  An old high school friend of mine was just surprised with the most adorable baby shower at Crown & Crumpet in San Francisco.  While I was immobile (and suffering through the worst pregnancy ever: bedridden for 8 months + hospitalized 20 times), I would longingly gaze at all her beautiful facebook pictures of her gorgeous shower.  (So sad, wasn’t I?!)  Everything was just so cute!!  The food looked delicious + the place was just so lovely.  I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself one day.  I had just had my daughter, and was in need of some girl time.  I got this brilliant idea to host tea, and searched for the closest tea house to me.  Tyme For Tea & Co. in Niles Fremont, CA (I frequent there now, but it’s scheduled on the Tour for next year!) popped up, and I made reservations right away!  I took my 2 SIL’s with me, a few close friends + a few girlfriends I wanted to get to know better.  I could NOT get over all the cuteness!!?!  From the teacup sets to the mismatched silverware, even the doilies!?  I loved all of it.  I couldn’t wait to do it again, so I planned another party a few months out.  Little did I know, this would be the beginning of what is it today:  16 tea house spots waiting for us!!  Thank you for following!  ;)

Spot #3 :: The Palace Hotel Garden Court

Our 3rd Spot:

The Palace Hotel Garden Court

2 New Montgomery Street  San Francisco, CA 94105

http://www.sfpalace.com/afternoon-tea

 

You have to live it up once in a great while.  We all work hard, we all have stresses, and we all like to enjoy ourselves.  When I researched the tea houses to include in this tour + came across this one, I KNEW I had to experience it…and soon!  The snippet on their website made it sound so lavish!  Sure, this isn’t something you could do every weekend (well, maybe the wealthy can)-  but why can’t we be fancy this once!?

If you’ve never been to The Palace Hotel, it is simply breathtaking.  It was just so…GRAND!!  I felt so privileged to be walking down the beautiful carpeted hallways, knowing I had business walking down them!  We arrived at The Garden Court, and this is what we were welcomed with…

Garden Court

Garden Court 2

I wouldn’t be doing the place any honors if I attempted to explain just how exquisite our surroundings were.  Stunning, absolutely stunning.

The menu was very simple.  Nice selection of teas + three levels of tea service.  Of course, I chose the one that included the champagne!  Our server was very swift.  He immediately asked which pots of tea we would like, and shortly after here came the pots!  At our table, we enjoyed the Earl Grey (aromatic autumn Darjeeling with bergamont citrus), The Palace Blend (babaco fruit with pineapple, kiwi + plum), Morgentau (sencha, flower petals, mango + lemon), Mint & Fresh (mint + lemongrass), Pai Mu Tau Silver Typ (delicate white tea), and Red Fruit (elderberries, black + red currants with hibiscus).  The mint tea was amazing + the perfect choice for me!  What we thought was fascinating was this interesting tool that was part of our place setting.  It was later explained to us that this was used to sift the loose leaf tea that was steeping in our pots.  We all had fun trying em out!

Tool          Tool 2

Tool 3

We were served our tea sandwiches first.  Different from having the scones in the beginning.  But, we weren’t complaining!  Not only were the tea sandwiches gorgeous, they were full of flavor!  Flavors you may not be used to having together, but they just worked so well!  And I can’t say enough how much I appreciated the portion.  They were the perfect size to enjoy, without being stuffed.

Tea Sandwiches

Smoked Salmon

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any fancier, they serve caviar!!?!  This is their Smoked Salmon tea sandwich (cream cheese mousse + caviar).  Our table’s best pick.

Cucumber

What is a tea house without a cucumber finger sandwich?!  This is their Cucumber tea sandwich (avocado mousse + tomato).  The avocado flavors definitely makes this stand out from the rest.

Turkey

Made simply, but surprise ending!  This is their Turkey tea sandwich (cream cheese + raspberry).  That tiny berry makes a huge punch in your last bite of this one!

Zucchini

This one was my favorite!  This is their Zucchini tea sandwich (roasted bell pepper mousse).  So refreshing!!

Ham & Pineapple

Good choice for the last sandwich.  This is their Ham & Pineapple tea sandwich (cream cheese mousse + sun dried tomato).  If you’re thinking this will resemble a pizza, you’re mistaken!

We were beyond thrilled when they brought out the tiers of sweets!  If they were as yummy as the sandwiches, we were in for a treat!  Hands down-  best part of the meal.  Everything was sooo GOOOOD!!  The scones were superb.  The table favorite was definitely the double decker mini cream puffs!  My favorite was the chocolate layer cake topped with GOLD!!  My friend from Samoa said her overall thoughts were: “oka oka se manaia!”

Tier

Top Tier          Gold

Bottom Tier          Scone

Fixings          Fixings 2

The service was delightful.  Will we come back?  Uh…YEAH!!  We’d totally skip the rest of the tour and just dine here every month!  Okay, maybe not.  ;)  Check back for our next stop!

Spot #2 :: The Quail & Thistle Tea Room

Our 2nd Spot:

The Quail & Thistle Tea Room

911 Capitola Avenue  Capitola, CA 95010

http://quailandthistle.com

We drove about an hour to reach this spot.  I’m a fan of small towns and have visited Capitola before, so I figured this place was going to be cute.  The website doesn’t give you much of a feel for what to expect.  Very little photos.  I guess that’s nice, so you have an element of wonder + surprise!?

It was hard to get through on the phone at first.  I wanted to talk to a live person to ensure my reservation.  I made the reservations online and hoped for the best.  However, I had a party of 10 and the online form only allowed you to input 8.  The next day, I finally got through and spoke to someone.  The party number change was easy to make, and they did have record of my initial reservation so you can trust the internet!

AB-SO-LUTE-LY adorable.  The outside is this cute little tiny cottage with a pink door!!?!  Can it BE any cuter?!  (in my best Chandler voice)

sign          outside

awning

It just got CUTER as we walked in.  The décor is very old school tea party.  Not too many pieces, fairly simple, but #cutenessoverload for sure!

fireplace          tables

tables 2          tables 3

I feel like the menu was kind of confusing.  For tea sandwiches, there was a ‘meat’ side + a ‘veggie’ side.  Maybe it was just me, but it took me a second to figure out how they wanted you to order this.  I think at our table of 7, there were a few head-scratches about this as well.  Our server helped us make sense of it all, then we were happy.  ;)

tablescape

place setting          menu

The food-  okay, here we go.  I ordered the California Country Tea.  They offer soup (which was new for me).  It was a Tomato Bisque today.  Good flavor + texture, pretty chunky.  I couldn’t have too much of it.  The rest of it (4 tea sandwiches, 2 savories, scone with fixings + their sweets of the day)…came all on ONE PLATE!!?!  And you were just left to figure out what was what.  If we didn’t question our server, we would’ve just never known!?  I thought it was very overwhelming.  No tiers.  :(  Let’s start with the Scone.  It was a plain scone (which I now appreciate, thanks Leticia!).  It came with some sort of cream (which our server described as “sour cream with sugar”) + strawberry jam.  Not what I’m used to, but it worked.  My SIL described the cream as “frosting.”  It was rather thick + chewy for a cream…  Scone was good.  No complaints there.  I went in for the Roast Beef tea sandwich.  Very plain!  Bread with mayo + roast beef, nothing special there.  But, the roast beef was such a thick cut the whole thing fell out when you took a bite of it!?  Awkward!  You’re sitting there trying to bite this piece off, and it just continues to fall out of the finger sandwich.  The Chicken Salad was okay.  The Cucumber with Mint Butter (sounds divine right?) was bland!  And open-faced??  We didn’t even realize that was our 3rd sandwich!?  The Olive Cream Cheese (which our server raved about) was sooo salty!!  The kalamata was so overpowering!  I couldn’t have more than one bite.  I also just had one bite of the Sundried Tomato Crostini (1 of the 2 savories).  The other was a Pesto Quiche-esque thing.  That was good!  But so tiny.  For the desserts today, they offered a Mini Cheesecake Bite, Chocolate Covered Strawberry, Earl Grey Cookie, Peanut Butter Cookie, Raspberry Loaf + fruit.  Here’s what I thought of those:

cheesecake-  melted + fell apart as soon as you forked it, more like a cheesecake SHAKE

strawberry-  good, but the chocolate was so thick it wasn’t a perfect ratio

earl cookie-  nice texture, but nothing really “earl grey” about it

peanut cookie-  tasted like it came from a supermarket box

loaf-  ehh

fruit-  I didn’t even taste it

soup          food

The Teas were fun!  We ordered the Chocolate Rose (black tea with cocoa nibs and rose petals), Raspberry Earl Grey, Houjicha (toasted for a nutty flavor), South African Rooibos (a mellow fellow with a vanilla signature), Peach Oolong + Earl Grey.  They were all very yummy.  My favorite was the Chocolate Rose for sure!  Nothing stood out or was very memorable for me.  But all-in-all, we were happy with our tea choices.  What’s nice is they give you to-go cups if you didn’t finish your pot!  :)

teapot          sugar

I have to say-  what I liked best about this spot was the service.  Our server Stephen was very personable.  He gave us everything we needed and was a nice guy throughout our visit.  At one point it got really warm (doesn’t it always, after you’re having cup after cup of hot tea!?), and he opened the window for us.  He took a few shots from [like] 4 different cameras + camera phones for us!  When he had to leave, he ensured us the owner + cook in the back would take care of us and they sure did come out a few times to check if we needed anything.  When it came time to pay, they broke down our bill for us + made it easy to divide.  Very sweet people.

If you’re looking for a “CUTE” place to hang out with your family or girlfriends, this is your spot.  But if you’re more of a foodie or want a quality meal, I wouldn’t recommend this place.  I’m still very happy we came.  Always a good time with your gf’s of course, but the experience + ambiance made up for the quality + flavor of the food.  Not a total waste of time.  We still loved coming!