August Tea

So…we missed our last tea Spot.  :/  It was a really great Spot, that we were ultra excited for…but-   lots of things goin on, ya know!?  I promise the next Spot, you will NOT WANT TO MISS (and we won’t either!  Hehe.).

I was blessed to be able to attend a week long seminar, the 2nd week of August.  The following week we were supposed to travel for Tea, but I didn’t realize how much the class would take out of me…  The next day, I found out my Gramma (and Homegirl!) had suffered a heart attack + was in the hospital.  Then, a few days later, my friend who is 99-years-old!! was admitted also.  (Sigh…)  Needless to say, lots of hospital visits-  didn’t make me feel in a very “tea party” type mood.  :(  Thank you sweethearts for understanding.  (insert 3 heart emojis here!)

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On a lighter note!  Our new company is moving rather swiftly!!  To our surprise + honor.  Please keep in touch with us at www.parTEAwithme.com to be the FIRST to hear our news!  And, at @parTEAwithme on all social media accounts!

Spot 20 :: Afternoon Tea at The Fairmont

Our 20th Spot:

Afternoon Tea at The Fairmont

950 Mason Street  San Francisco, CA 94108

http://www.fairmont.com/san-francisco/dining/afternoon-tea-at-the-fairmont

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[FYI-  most of my photos for this post, will be smartphone photos from me or my girlfriend.  The lighting in there wasn’t favorable for my DSLR setting, and I wasn’t in the mood to fiddle with it.  I wanted to eat!]

 

Making reservations here was painless, and ordering was easy-breezy!  They have a set menu for one level of tea service, so all you really have to think about is your tea selection.  We love it when tea houses make it stress-free for us!

 

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There were 4 of us at today’s tea party (the same 4 that attended the Spot in Hayward).  We were excited at the chance of a re-do, since the last place we were all together at was NOT a good experience.  We decided to order different teas for each of us, so we can sample 4 from their offerings.  And yay, I tried all of em!

Jasmine Butterfly #1 (green tea with floral) – My choice.  I had this amazing jasmine green from a hole-in-the-wall dumpling house, and have been trying to find it’s twin.  So of course, this tea appealed to me.  At first pour, it’s as if the aroma filled the entire restaurant!?  It was verrrry fragrant…to say the least.  Although it smelled wonderful, I admit I got terrified as I (and my allergies) am ultra sensitive to scents.  I thought I was gonna hate it, but it was sooo good!  The floral bouquet wasn’t heavily translated in the tea itself.  However, the longer it steeped, the stronger it became.

Kyoto Cherry Rose (green tea, cherry, rose) – This was my 2nd choice, so I was very happy that my girlfriend decided to try this one.  My favorite at the table!  It smelled like a gift shop candle.  A light tea, but so flavorful!  It carried an equal amount of rose + cherry, and the aftertaste was remarkable.  Not only that, but it was a GORGEOUS looking tea!!  Here’s a shot of it with some cream…

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Willow Stream Spa Blend – My SIL was deciding between this one + another, and I encouraged her to choose this as she is a CMT!  Hehe.  Good thing she did, because it was lovely.  At first sniff + sip, I’d say it was a red.  Since the menu doesn’t quite specify what kind of flavors to expect but says that it’s “unique” and “decaffeinated”-  I believe it is, as rooibos is the only really caffeine free tea.  It smelled citrusy and creamy.  Wasn’t sure how else to describe this one (which is maybe why the menu doesn’t say much about it!?), but it was a good tea.

Egyptian Chamomile (apple-like + soothing aroma) – When I think of chamomile, I think of flat tea and rest.  So, it’s not necessarily something I look for on tea house menus.  However, my girlfriend said she was on a chamomile-kick, and I’m so glad she was because this one is a must-try!  NOT your everyday chamomile.  It had so much depth to it, and was very comforting.  I was pleased to have tried it.

 

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The tiers pack so much food on such petite presentation!  However, it didn’t look cluttered.  Each piece was small, but had diverse ingredients.  I took my photos quickly, so I could dive in!

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English Cucumber, Local Chevre, Lychee, Raspberries, Taro bread – Quite a mouthful of goat cheese!  The lychee is weird but fun.  The taro bread was delicious!!  You know I love me a crunchy cucumber.  The raspberry I thought, was unnecessary.

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Deviled Egg Salad, Watermelon Radish, Pickled Cucumber, White Bread – I thought there was nothing fantastic about the egg sandwich.  But I think THAT’S what was profound about it.  It wasn’t an egg sandwich with bells + whistles…it was just an egg sandwich.  BUT-  a really good, done well, egg sandwich.  And that white bread was ridiculously perfect.

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Smoked Salmon Pinwheel, Caper Boursin Cheese, Shaved Coconut, Pumpernickel – Salmon and coconut, really??  These flavors complimented each other so well, though!  Nice saltiness.  Coulda had more.

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Dungeness Crab & Mango Salad, Chives, San Francisco Sourdough – That craaaaab was sooooo good.  It was so juicy and lemony and chewy, and there was so much of it!!  They did this one so right.  I’d come back for that crab alone.

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Chicken & Black Bean Salad, Spiced Plum Coulis, Micro Greens, Green Tea & Red Bean Bread – That chicken was so smooth!  The complexity of those flavors together definitely resembled something from an Asian Deli, which is not a bad thing.  The mixture tasted like it had a bit of curry I it, always a winner.  Oh that bread!  Green tea & red bean anything = yes!

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We were offered 2 types of scones today: Aged Cheddar & Chive and Cinnamon & Raisin.  If you’re a long time reader of this blog, you’ll already know I can’t have certain dairy.  Uuuusually when I hear “cheddar”, I steer clear away.  BUT-  I love me some chive.  Sooo, I had to taste that one.  And of course, hearing my girls rave about them just made me want to have some even more.  No one wants FOMO!  (fear of missing out)  These scones were so fluffy inside!!  Very unique texture than what I’m used to, and I liked it!  My girlfriend said, “They said ‘cheddar and chive’, but all I taste was delicious!”  The cinnamon & raisin din’t have strong flavors at all.  And, I enjoyed them that way.  They used golden rasisins, which just made them look prettier.  What do they say-  half of how you eat is with your eyes!?  (thumbs up)  I almost forgot to mention, they offer a Spiced Pear Compote as opposed to strawberry preserves.  Waaay different, but okay.  I’m always down to try new things!  All I got to say is “TRY IT.”

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The desserts for today were Peach Panna Cotta, Apple Date Fruitcake, Vanilla & Chocolate French Macarons, Caramel Coconut Banana Tart, and a Passion Fruit Merengue Tart.  To tell you the truth, I barely had a bite of each I was so stuffed!!  I went for the panna cotta first, becaaaause that’s my all-time favorite dessert!  I know my panna cottas, and…that was was just okay for me.  I thought it was much to melty or runny.  The other desserts weren’t bad at all.  Maybe I’ll leave that as an element of surprise for yall!? 😉

 

All-in-all, it was a wonderful visit.  The hotel alone is a classic building to step foot into.  I didn’t include photos from inside, as I’d want you to see for yourselves.  I wouldn’t do it justice in trying to explain the luxuriousness of it, and plus, my camera didn’t like me that day (remember?).  The staff was pleasant.  They got their job done, and with smiles on their faces.  But, it wasn’t anything to write home about.  Which, I didn’t necessarily expect from this place.  In your family-owned tea houses, we get so much love!  In these big-o hotels, to them-  it’s business.  HOWEVER, that wont stop me from coming back!!  I want to do it again already tomorrow!

Thank you my followers, for continuing to read about our journey.  I see your daily hits by the hundreds, and can’t express enough how much it means to me/us that you appreciate what we’re doing.  To think-  it started with a story almost 2 years ago…and now we’re a full-fledged business with a TEA LINE!!?!  Whaaaa??  I know you’ve taken a look at our teas right?!  What, not yet?!  www.parTEAwithme.com  You’re welcome!!  It started with you all, and we’ll continue to share what we can. 🙂

COMING SOON!!

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Spot 19 :: The White Hart Tea Room

Our 19th Spot:

The White Hart Tea Room

649 Lighthouse Avenue  Pacific Grove, CA 93950

http://www.thewhitehartpg.com

 

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I was toooootally looking forward to this Spot!!  Who wouldn’t wanna come here!?  It’s a gorgeous home AND you get to have tea inside it!  (clapping hands)  It is almost 2-hours away from my home…but look it!!

 

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We got to try 5 of the fifteen teas they offer.  And, can you see how cute!?  Tall, white teapots, tied with dainty ribbon to tell which is which!  Our table choices were: Earl Grey, Apple Cinnamon Tisane, Ann’s Favorite Blend, Ginger Orange Peach, and #1 Ladies’ Red Bush Tea.

Earl Grey – Surprise surprise, this was ordered!  Hehe.  Actually, it took some time for my Earl Grey Gal to order this one because it had cornflower in it, which isn’t usual.  She says it was “shockingly good” however!

Apple Cinnamon Tisane – I thought this one smelled a lot like body butter!  SIL says it reminded her of apple cinnamon oatmeal.

Ginger Orange Peach – Ugh, this one wreaked (in a good way!) of Burke Williams!  A very light tea that resembled the spa!

#1 Ladies’ Red Bush Tea – Since I’ve been addicted to my red tea at home, this one was my first choice.  I’m happy my girlfriend ordered it!  Even though it smelled cough syrupy, it was still a good choice!  It was caramelly + creamy, and the gf says vanilla-esque.

Ann’s Favorite Blend – If I remember correctly, Ann is the homeowner’s mother-in-law.  Her favorite color was gold, which is why that was the ribbon choice for my teapot marker.  (Tear, I know!)  This one was sooo Michaels Craft Store at Christmastime!  It’s a black tea with orange rind + spices.  It smelled and tasted like cinnamon, and was just such a cozy tea!  It was my second choice to order, but ended up being my favorite at the table!  Yay!

 

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The gorgeous tier of goodies came in no time!  The husband of the homeowner duo is their executive chef!!  You can tell each piece that was served was made with attention to detail and-  LOVE!  There is only 1 tea service offered, and it came with everything!  And, for a good price too.

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What a great idea creating their English Cucumber Tea Sandwich around the shape of a cucumber slice!?  It was the cutest little thing, even the tiny chive knot on top.  Only the CRUNCHIEST cucumbers were chosen for these!  There was only slice of radish thrown in the mix, which made for a nice pop of color.  It had a shallot + chive spread, which I usually love both but somehow tasted like green onion (which I loathe).  Brilliant sandwich, though.

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I grabbed the White Cheddar with Roasted Pepper & Jalapeno Crostini next.  Since I’m lactose intolerant, I could only have 1 bite.  But, the bite I had was magnificent!  Very crispy crostini (not soggy at all), and the flavors were on point.  Nice sharp taste!

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Their Smoked Wild Salmon with Pickled Ginger & Wasabi Aioli was just WONDERFUL!!  Isn’t it pretty??  (Photographed my gf’s next to me, ’cause hers was darling!)  There was a nice amount of salmon in there.  And, the flavors just meshed so well together.  The ginger reminded us of sushi, and I just love wasabi on everything.  You couldn’t eat this one cutily though…messy. 😉

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Oh that curry!  They had a Coronation Chicken Tea Sandwich with Mango Chutney, Curry & Almond.  A really good combination of flavors, but that bread-  oh that bread!!  And, the parsley created this nice texture + crunch!  (I had 2 of those!)

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Nice Scone.  They had blueberry and currant today.  It was very doughy.  I would have liked mine to stay in the oven a bit longer, but that’s just MY preference.  It was good enough that I had more than one!  (big cheesy face emoji here)  What MADE these scones were their signature fixings.  They make their own Clotted Cream!!?!  Their Lemon Curd and Strawberry Preserves are also made in house!  This is the ONLY tea house from the Tour that has served real clotted cream, and it was D-I-V-I-N-E.

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Each of the Sweets were heavenly.  The Hand-Dipped Chocolate Strawberry (that adorably looked like it was wearing a corset!!) was perfect.  As simple as that thing was, it was done RIGHT.  The Lemon Tart with Meringue just melted in your mouth!  The Apple & Spice Miniature Bundt Cake was the CUTEST everrr!!  And, it tasted lovely.  A nice light cake, a bit chewy too.  But, that Coffee Opera Petit Fours.  Every layer was more exquisite than the next!  It’s rare that I make it with enough room to eat my sweets during tea, but theirs were just so amazing I couldn’t stop stuffing my mouth!!

 

I didn’t take too many photos of this Spot.  I was just enjoying myself and my girls too much!  (I had one doll drive 2-and-a-half hours to be with us!!)  I did take a few shots of the inside, but my photos just don’t do the place justice.  You’d definitely have to come see for yourself.  The staff…oh the staff.  They were just darling + lovely.  They really made you feel welcome, and were so attentive + warm.  They don’t just do this to do it, but really go out of their way to make you at home-  in THEIR home!  I can’t wait to go back.

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Another 6 Spots on the list!  Here’s what I think from “yuck” to “Can I stay here forever!?”

 

18. Tal-Y-Tara Tea & Polo Shoppe – Outright rude and has no business being a tea house.

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17. Secret Garden Tea House, San Francisco – Filthy place with yummy scones.

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16. Tea Time, Palo Alto – Awkward dirty café that left me thirsty.

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15. The Golden Tea Garden, Hayward – Bad-mannered + arrogant owner with dollar store décor + tea.

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14. Linde Lane Tea Room, Dixon – Snooty but pretty with fun sorbet intro.

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13. Lovejoy’s Tea Room, San Francisco – Pretentious area with spectacular Black Vanilla tea.

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12. Quail & Thistle Tea Room, Capitola – Adorable building with overwhelming all-in-one plate.

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11. The Rotunda at Nieman Marcus, San Francisco – Matter-of-fact service and expensive teeny tasteless food.

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10. Satori Tea Company, San Jose – Interesting + eclectic, rum butter crumpets, and purple tea.

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9. Afternoon Tea at The Ritz, San Francisco – A definite must-experience with exceptional service.

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8. The Palace Garden Court, San Francisco – Breathtaking surroundings and flawless food.

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7. Lovey’s Tea Shoppe, Pacifica – Black Vanilla with Lavender tea, asparagus sandwich, and sweet staff.

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6. Camellia Tea Room, Benicia – Impeccable service and an all-around wonderful time.

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5. Lisa’s Tea Treasures, Los Altos – Like going to your sister’s house and having delicious food + tea.

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4. Crown & Crumpet Tea Stop Café, San Francisco – Unforgettable crumpets and scrumptious tea sandwiches.

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3. Pardee Home, Oakland – A tour in a tour that will feed you until satisfaction and the definition of ‘cuteness overload’.

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2. Dartealing Lounge, San Francisco – Best sandwiches and cutest ambiance.

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1. The English Rose Tea Room, Pleasanton – A hundred delectable teas and textbook shabby chic décor.

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That’s a lot of tea houses we’ve been to!?  And, we’re going to finish off strong!!  Don’t forget to share your experiences with us!  Thank you ALL for continuing to read the blog + follow the Tour!!  Until the next Spot…

Spot #18 :: Lovey’s Tea Shoppe

Our 18th Spot:

Lovey’s Tea Shoppe

4430 Coast Highway  Pacifica, CA 94044

http://www.loveysteashoppe.com

 

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I was looking forward to coming to this Spot.  Who wouldn’t want to stop by the coast!?  We pass this place all the time, so naturally it would be part of the Tour.  I like to create anticipation for myself (always), so I scheduled it closer to the end…which was perfect, cuz after that last Spot, we needed something good.  I will have to say tho-  I wasn’t excited that this tea house was connected to Lovejoy’s (insert rolling eyes emoji here).  I cringe whenever “Lovejoy’s” (said in sarcastic tone) is brought up in the same conversations as ‘good tea houses’.  [Visit our November 2014 Archive for our experience on Lovejoy’s.]  I didn’t form any expectations (because I’m fair!!), and I was really hopeful.

 

I enjoyed the intimacy + brightness of this tea house.  You could probably fit 25 people in there.  Lots and LOTS of lace, which I looove!  There are tea sets + things to shop for (always nice).  Reservations were easy to make.  I spoke with the owner both times I called in, and she was just such a pleasure.  Even their voicemail was nice!

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***Here is my Disclaimer, before I move on with my review: Anything less than positive I have to say about this Spot is only because I always promise our followers + readers my honest truth.  However, it makes it very hard to say aaaanything negative about a Spot when the service is so WONDERFUL!  Any critique is nothing compared to how great we were treated.  Please refer back to this note, if/when I have to say something not-so-nice.  (awkward sorry face).***

 

We were seated right away, and offered a glass of water or to get any pots of tea started.  This was just a preface to the remainder of our visit.  They offer 8 levels of tea service, plenty tea sandwich choices, and at least 40 different teas to choose from.  Lots to read, but not overwhelming.  Our server graciously showed us around the menu, and was just fantastic from beginning to end.

These are the pots of teas that were ordered at our table of 6, and here’s what my girls had to say about them…

Black Vanilla with Lavender – I ordered this one.  I believe it’s a specialty from this Spot.  The Black Vanilla from their sister shoppe is my all-time favorite from the Tour.  I wanted to stick to something close to that, and remembered reading something about this one.  I’m not even going to trrryyyyy to explain what this tasted like, because I would be doing it a disservice!  I’ll tell you this, it’s a MUST TRY in your life and I didn’t taste any other teas (even tho I wanted to + should have)…this tea is that good.  There’s nothing like it!  And, I’m kicking myself for not buying any!!  :*(

Decaf Lady Grey – My girlfriend described this one as “sweet and floral”, she said she had 2 pots and didn’t share!

Chocolate Truffle – I really wanted to try this one!  My girl says it was “very chocolatey” and that it was great with milk.

Decaf Earl Grey – This Spot has 3 different grey’s, so it was cute to see my Earl Grey Gal actually look at the tea menu!  Hehe.  She called this one a “happy earl grey!”  She says the Ceylon was a bit heavy, but didn’t over power the bergamot the way others normally do.

Genmai Cha – Girlfriend didn’t like this one.  She said it “tasted like the kind you get at a sushi restaurant, and felt cheated out of the tea house ambiance drinking it.”  She didn’t think that flavor belonged on the menu.  Says they DID however describe it on the menu perfectly, stating it was a Japanese tradition, so it’s not like she was lied to.  She was attempting to break from the norm, so she guessed she was lying to herself!  She loved the rest of our teas tho, so she was grateful we all like to share!

Forest Berries and Rose Hips – My gf said this one was just like it says: flowers and berries.  She said it wasn’t that bad, but that it did taste like Robitussin…

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We all ordered the Queen’s Tea (highest level of tea service offered).  It comes with two tea sandwich flavors of your choice, coleslaw AND salad, warm scone with fixings, fresh crumpet, fruit, a petit four, and shortbread.  Lots, huh!?  I always order the most anyway, so I can review as much as I can for you guys!  ;)  Even tho I’m a salad lover, I wasn’t thrilled with all the greens, but it wasn’t a big deal.  There were 6 of us, and each pair got tea service for 2…so it was nice to try our partner’s sandwich choices too!

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Thankfully, the gf I was sharing with ordered the Cucumber & Cream Cheese, cuz I like to always try that one…but didn’t wanna give up one of my sandwich choices!  Haha.  Their cucumber was pretty good.  Better than average.  Something about that cream cheese tho-  like, it was so creamy!?  There was a lot of it.

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Of course, OF COURSE, I chose the Chicken & Asparagus.  As much as I raved about the one I had at their sister shoppe…  I don’t know what they do with that asparagus, but they do it RIGHT.  Loved that one so much, even tho I was full at the end of my meal-  I still had oooone laaaast asparagus sandwich for good measure!

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Their Chicken-Apple-Walnut Salad was okay.  I liked the consistency…nice chunks of apple in there…but it was just okay for me.

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Anytime I see horseradish on a tea menu, I’ve gotta have it!  Roast Beef & Horseradish it is.  This was my 2nd sandwich choice.  Ugh, really yummy!  There was a good amount of horseradish in there, so if you like it this sandwich is for you.  The only thing I didn’t like, was the whole piece of beef being pulled out with your first bite.  I don’t know that there’s a way to fix that…maybe I need stronger teeth, I don’t know…but, I would have liked to savor my piece instead of forcing the whole thing in my mouth!  Hehe.

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I’m so grateful for my girls that ordered Lovey’s “Daily” Special (LOVE you guys) which was a Chicken Curry with Carrots & Raisins.  Doesn’t that just sound divine!?  My ears perked up when I heard that, but just couldn’t opt out of my 2!  And, I love them even more for sharing with me!!  Best sandwich I had at this Spot (yes, even more than the asparagus).  I coulda had these the whole time + woulda been fine.  With.  That!

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I love when tea houses bring you their scones and/or crumpets warm + fresh!  I can’t remember off the top of my head if any other tea spots did this…but, I DO really like that this place brought our scones + crumpets to table when they were ready.  Nice nice thing.

All my girls ADORED their scones.  I heard: “buttery and delectable”…”Best.  Scone.  Ever.”…”fabulous”…and, “divine.”  I thought they were okay.  Too soft + crumby for me.  I like them more crispy + stiff, but that’s just me!!  Still good flavor tho.  I think these were currant.  (And, how cute is that plate??)

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Love love loooooooooove when tea houses offer crumpets!  I will ALWAYS order the crumpet if you have it on your menu.  These were good.  They got soggy + chewy after being buttered tho.  I like me a crispier crumpet.

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At the end of your meal, they come around with a dessert stand of petit fours, French macarons, and truffles.  How pretty!  And lavish, huh!?  (Wish I got a picture…)  What’s sad is:  you only get one!!  Waahhh!  So hard to choose, cuz they all look spectacular and sound wonderful!  I chose the Pink Champagne Truffle…  I’m not much for sweets these days, so I only took a bite.  I couldn’t really taste the champagne flavor, but my other girlfriend that chose it said hers tasted plenty like champagne.

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We had the privilege of being served by the owner’s daughter.  She was perfect.  VERY attentive to our table, and she had others in the tea house.  She knew exactly how to handle making sure we had a good time.  At one point, my girlfriend even invited her to pull up a chair next to us!  She even offered to take photos of us, and even volunteered to take the same photo from different mobile phones.  I don’t want to compare (even tho I was in my head the whole time!) and have been very careful with this review to not bring up their sister shoppe Lovejoy’s so much, but-  I have to say…Lovey’s is 100% the opposite of that other place!!  And, thank goodness for that!  Go ahead, read what we had to say about them…  Thank you Lovey’s for showing us a good time.  The owner even came out and was very gracious, just as she was when I spoke with her on the phone.  Just an all around WONDERFUL TEA TIME!!  Thank you!