Spot #17 :: Tea Time

Our 17th Spot:

Tea Time

542 Ramona Street  Palo Alto, CA 94301

http://www.tea-time.com

 

outside

I was already kind of in an attitude before I walked in.  I had phone calls between the staff from this spot, back + forth, over a month prior.  First off, they originally booked my party on the month before when I requested.  Then called me frantically, looking for us on that day.  I called back, notifying them it was THIS month we reserved.  After that confusion, I had calls + emails from the Manager there, that I felt were excessive.  Confirming the number of our party…having to preorder…  It was just a lot of communication that I think was unnecessary.  Get what you need from me, and MOVE.  ON.

When we walked in on time, our table wasn’t even ready.  We had to awkwardly stand around for at least 5-minutes while they hurriedly prepared for our meal.  NOT something someone with OCD wants to see.  ‘Uh, did you even wipe our table down good?’

It’s a small place.  More of a café, than a Tea House.  This spot was recommended to me, which is how it ended up on our Tour.  25 people tops, would fit in there.  And, that would be quite a squeeze.  It had a few tea cups + saucers in curios and along the walls, some for sale.  But, don’t expect ANY type of shabby chic or antique feel in this place.  A fireplace + a few books…some art on the wall, and that’s about all the décor they had.  My girls were pretty disappointed that our cups were all blue…  No mismatched cutesy vintage floral.

place

place 2

place 3

place 4

place 5

place 6

 

After we were seated, it took them FIFTEEN MINUTES before anyone paid attention to us.  Yes, I was counting.  Our server finally brought out some little plates of loose leaf tea, to tell us about the ONLY 3 types of tea our party of 6 was allowed to order.  That was nice.

loose leaf

 

Of the “130+ fine teas” their website says they have, we were only allowed to try 3.  Three.  If we wanted to try more, we were charged.  CHARGED!!?!  We chose their Wild Berry Tisane, Earl Grey Finest, and Vanilla Black Tea.  All smelled amazing!  Taste, different story…  The Vanilla Black was wonderfully fragrant; but when you drank it, was sooo blaaaand!!  We thought maybe it wasn’t steeped long enough, but no.  My Mom called that one “Lipton.”  Earl Grey smelled like a spa and tasted like a spa!  That one was my favorite.  And I had to confess to my Earl Grey GF, that of all the Spots we’ve been to, this was the first that I tried the earl grey.  (Well!  There were only 3 to try from!?  And mine blew!)  Again, since there weren’t many tea flavors to try, I did make an effort to try em all.  I had the Berry one last.  I’m not a fruity tea drinker, but this one wasn’t half bad.

tea

(Notice the giant hole in the doily they used on our table?  Smh.)

 

salad

On their menu, they call this their Garden Salad.  You pay an extra 3 dollars for this.  What it really is, is a box of spring mix with a few slices of apple on top and what they think is salad dressing but what I’m calling is: snot.  This was horrible.  My 8yo son could’ve made a better “salad” (sure) than this.  My SIL told one of our other girlfriends, “The trick is to see if you can keep all your lettuce on the plate.”  Omg, who does this??

After they set the 3-Tier down, they walked away.  No plates or anything.  I had to get up + ask for them!?  Like we could fit anything on these rinky-dink salad plates anyway.  I didn’t get a good shot of the tier…not that I necessarily wanted to.  (See, I told you.  Bad attitude.)  I just think after going through all those phone calls + questions, and for having to pay as much as we did-  that we would have better than we did.  That’s where the ugly attitude is coming from.  So, I’m sorry to my readers for this lousy blog post.  I just felt bad taking my girls to this place.  Especially for having my Mom join us, and she’s here from out of town.

Between the 6 of us, we were given only 3 each of 2 different Savories.  That means = if you want to try them both, you have to cut them in half.  WHICH they are already small to begin with.  And don’t get me started on WHY they served a stinkin EGGROLL with high tea.  So, here are the 2 Savories: a Mushroom Tart and (yes) an Eggroll.  And these are the portions I was able to consume.

mushroom

eggroll

From the BITES I was able to have…  The Mushroom was rather mushy, and the Eggroll was good.  (Only because I’m strange in the way that I actually like your typical generic Chinese buffet eggroll.  Which is what this was.)

Again, because we were asked to preorder our meal weeks before we were going to have it and had to settle on the same of 3 sandwiches to share between 6 different people with different taste buds and different food limitations (really rolling my eyes here now)…  We were stuck with Turkey Cranberry, Chicken Apple Pecan, and Shrimp with Dill and Avocado tea sandwiches.  They were open face, small, and not worth the money you’re paying for them.

turkey

Turkey = bland.

chicken

Chicken = mayonnaise-y, and smothered with chunks of stuff; very little chicken.  My girls liked this one tho.

shrimp

Shrimp = this one was yummy.  Still coulda used some salt.  And, it wasn’t 2 bite-friendly.  You had to stick the whole thing in your mouth, or it would fall all over the place.  Not cute for high tea.  The shrimp was cooked perfectly tho.  Okay, I’ll give them that.

 

fixings

Their scone fixings made me MAD.  We’ve had some pretty messed up situations with the scone fixings from previous Spots, but NOTHING like this.  Put them in tiny containers…don’t give them to us…give us bad tasting ones…OKAY.  But this poor excuse of a (I can’t even think of a word) is disrespectful, if I may say so myself.  My Earl Grey GF was just so disgusted, as she’s of the kind that doesn’t like food that touch (Yes, there are ones out there like that and they deserve to be respected for their preference.).  Granted, it tasted good together.  However, I would have liked the opportunity to taste them individually.  And, AND-  we had to share just 2 of these between siiiiiiiiiix people!!  Come on!

scone

Scones were really good.  Pecan, we think.  The server didn’t even know what they were!?  I asked what kind, and she looked at them for a good 45-seconds before uncertainly blurting out “Pecan…?”  But, they were nice + crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  P.S. I would’ve loved to try their crumpets…if I was allowed to.  #FixedPreorderedMenu

sweets

Their Desserts were nothing to rave about.  Standard Petit Fours and Mini Eclairs (most likely from Costco).

 

To be fair, this place wasn’t quite a Tea House.  But, they did serve high tea and offered many teas so it fit in the criteria of our Tea Tour.  It was just way too expensive for what they serve you.  I’m down to pay for high tea, always.  But at least let us try more of your teas; Add salt to your tea sandwiches; Give us more savories; and please oh PLEASE different containers for your scone fixings!!  They didn’t offer us water, and they didn’t come around + ask if we needed our teapots refilled.  First time ever–  I was super thirsty at a tea party.

drop

Off-Tour Tea

I just couldn’t keep away!

In September, I announced that our Tea House Tour would have to take place every other month as opposed to every.  With our busy family of 4, our Saturdays were slowly becoming a commodity around here!  It was only appropriate that we spread out our Tour Dates…

Meanwhile, I’ve still been living up the Tea Life!!  Hehe.  In early October, I introduced my girl cousins to the tea party experience at my alma mater of tea houses.  It was so cute to see their first experiences!  We chat about etiquette and as usual, had LOTS of laughter!  Late October, for Sunday brunch, we decided to have our first family tea party!  I steeped a pot of loose leaf tea for us, and baked fresh scones!  I even found the fixings at our local grocery store!  Then just last week, for our regular sister-date, my SIL + I thought it was long overdue to visit our favorite tea spot.  We shared stories of our day-to-day, had a really good vent sesh, and moaned over how great our teas tasted there!!  Ughhh, I love tea.

Enjoy the few shots that were taken (the first one was borrowed from my cousin)…I was having too good a time to take pictures!

 

tft&c

home

ertr

Spot #16 :: Pardee Home

Our 16th Spot:

Pardee Home

672 Eleventh Street  Oakland, CA 94607

http://www.pardeehome.org

 

outside

outside 2

I was gonna type “GO!”, and leave it at that.

While researching the tea spots that I wanted to include in our Tour, when I came across this one-  I couldn’t get there fast enough!!  The fact that it was an old home + had a story about it…I’m all about learning how things came to be and of course seeing precious antiques!  I was anticipating this spot for a long time, and couldn’t wait to take my Tea Dolls to it.  Espeeeecially siiiiince, we were on a waiting list for 2 months!!?!  Anytime you have to wait for something exciting, it just makes the place so much more worth it (in my opinion anyway).  I was hoping to have this spot be our opener tea house for the 2nd Leg of the Tour (which woulda been in July).  When I called to make the reservations in June, it was only POSSIBLY available in September.  When September came around, the only available time open was early October.  The woman I corresponded with was wonderful to work with, and answered all my emails promptly.  Because I had a big group with me (there were 12 of us, which is the max), we all had to pay in full way in advance.  Different, but we did it.  And after our experience, would do it again!

I’m purposely not going to include anything about the home itself, because it’s definitely an experience you have to enjoy for yourself and I seriously wouldn’t be doing it any justice!

 

table

table 2

I mean, look at how gorgeous this tablescape + our surroundings are!?  You know I had to give you both views!  This was the first time we had a private room for our tea party.  It was so nice + intimate, and we felt really special + V.I.P.!  My favorite part was that our table was OVAL (not circle, as my SIL corrected me!).  It was nice that everyone was a part of the conversation, and we were sharing a meal all together.  :)

setting

The setting was simple, but beautiful!  Mismatched China with delicate embroidered napkins.  It just felt really personal and (excuse me, ’cause I can’t think of the word that means they really took the time to make you feel special!?  Hehe.).

 

food

food 2

food 3

This is what we were greeted with when we walked into the room.  Wonderfully plated, intricately crafted goodies!  I think we really didn’t know what to do with ourselves, huh girls?!  Lol.  It was all just so PRETTY!!  Everything was homemade.

 

pour

teacup

teacup 2

Shortly after, our sweet server came around and gave us our first pours.  It was only one kind of tea: English Breakfast.  My cargroup was talking about this afterward, on the way home.  I would have liked a choice for tea, but only because I think that’s what we’ve been used to at every tea spot.  It was actually really nice not to have to think this time around!!  Haha.  The tea was still really good.  My girls put different things in it to flavor it as they liked.  My favorite part-  our server came around often enough that you NEVER had an empty cup or cool tea in your teacup.  Awesome awesome service.

 

cucumber

You guys all already know, I have my Cucumber first.  This little thing took me so by surprise!!  That crunch, boy!  Lots of really CRUNCHY cucumbers packed into this open-faced tea sandwich.  I enjoyed that one very much.

cheese

Since I’m lactose intolerant (blah blah blah, for you regular readers you already know this), I only took a bite of the Cheese Wafer.  It was fun!  My first-timer girlfriend said it reminded her of a Cheez-It!

egg

The Egg Salad tea sandwich was surprising as well.  That parsley encrusted side made for a scrumptious bite!  This egg salad tasted like it had curry it!  Very flavorful, for a supposed-to-be bland sandwich.

salmon

I went for the Smoked Salmon next.  Totally unexpected the CREAMIEST butter underneath that lox!?  And that sprig of dill that you thought was just a nice decoration, turned out to be a sweet citrusy bite at the end!

chicken salad

This Chicken Salad Puff was good.  Again, took you off guard with a lemony Asian-esque favor!  By this time, the scones came out!!  They were all hot + ready, so of course I had to move on to those next!

scone

We were served Orange Cranberry Scones.  I could have had a hundred of these!!  Nice flakey outside, and warm chewy inside.  The Clotted Cream was perfect!  And, the preserves just right.

artichoke

Took only a bite of the Cheddar Artichoke Tart.  The filo dough was super crunchy, and the filling was tangy.

mushroom

I am sooo happy I saved this Mushroom Rollup for last, being the mushroom-freak that I am!  As small as it was, don’t let it fool you.  This little thing was packed with so much flavor.  It had crispy edges, and a nice chewy bite to the bread.  The mushroom flavor was bold throughout.  Again, if this was all I was served I would have been completely content.

 

desserts

Just when you thought you were filled to the rim with all that food, here came the desserts!  It was like a spectacular production as each of the servers came out with a new plate of treats!

fruit

The fruit was almost too cute to eat.  Perfect ripeness.

brownie

Of course, I grabbed the corner piece of Brownie.  That mandarin orange, was a nice compliment to that nostalgic bite of chocolate.

peach

We all thought this was apricot, but it tasted more like a Peach Tart.  Nice dough, the filling wasn’t too tart, and that powdered sugar added a nice sweetness to that fruit flavor.

lemon

How cute is this Lemon Curd Tart?!  Ugh, that was lovely.  It kind of crumbled on me and fell into my plate, but I didn’t even care.  It was so good.

cupcake

Who would pay attention to this plain Mini Cupcake, when you had all those other fantastic sweets staring at you!?  Well, this.  Was.  Magnificent!!  The FLUFFIEST white cake + a rich chocolate frosting.  I could have eaten the whole batch.

sugar

chocolate chip

I didn’t have room for the Sugar or Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I took em home to my kids and they inhaled them (as they usually do if I bring Tea leftovers!).

All the food was chart-topping.  It came out at perfect increments of our meal.  I had luscious HOT tea with every bite.  To think that it was all homemade + prepared by loving volunteers, made everything taste better.  EACH piece that was served to us was prepared with TLC, and that made for the most comfortable meal setting.  We were very well taken care of by all the staff.  The Tour of the home was such a nice added treat to our Tea Party today!  The steps built up our appetites, and we were fed so well.  This Tea Spot moved up to the top of the list at first pour, no question.

It will be a few months until our next visit.  Hope you can be patient with us, as we await our next Spot!  Thank you again to the thousands of you who make these blog posts worthwhile!!  We love hearing about your visits from the Spots we’ve already been to.  Keep em coming!  Tea Parties are so much fun!!  ;)

Spot #15 :: The Golden Tea Garden

Our 15th Spot:

The Golden Tea Garden

22630 Main Street  Hayward, CA 94541

http://www.goldenteagarden.com

 

outside

Located in historical Downtown Hayward, this spot came recommended from one of my dear friends who frequents here with her mom.  Although I have to say, when I heard the word “garden” I thought more Chinese tea than Victorian tea (and let’s not reminisce about that bad experience from Spot #6).  As I had my husband drop me across the street so I could get my infamous outside shot, I can hear loud conversation.  Crossing the street to the tea house, I prayed + prayed it wasn’t coming from there.  Who wants to enjoy tea around a yelling match!?  It was coming from there.  Even worse, I stood at the front doors of the tea house and no hostess welcomed me for FIVE MINUTES!!?!  Verrry baaaad first impression.  I was so turned off!  I was in a texting convo with my gf, and told her I didn’t wanna go in!!  At first, she told me to leave.  Then, she encouraged that maybe they would make it up to us…

As my party showed up + we walked in, we were fiiiiinally greeted.  It was such a hot day, they had fan towers going.  The table we were sat at, had one right behind my chair.  I felt greedy having it all to myself + blowing just on MY back, so I graciously moved it to share with the other patrons.  When the hostess came around, I mentioned I had moved it and she replied with a snippy “whatever works.”  I was suddenly reminded of the person I made reservations with who happened to also be the owner.  She was not warm + very matter-of-fact about my call, which is maybe why I wanted to walk out when I first got there.  That was her!  She adjusted the fan to her liking and moved on.  O…kay…

The place isn’t bad looking.  Some really cute elements, and some rather tacky ones (I thought).  Definitely a garden scene.  I did like all the white rod iron furniture + chandeliers, even the green ‘grass’ carpet.  But, I could have done without the half pots on the wall and surrounding fake greenery.  Take a look for yourselves…

chandelier          chandelier 2

left          right          balcony

fountain

table

tea sets

 

The Tea was okay.  LOTS to choose from, with fun + different flavors (and they have small descriptions next to them yay!).  At our table of 4, we chose: Tahitian Vanilla Rose (oolong tea with vanilla & rose petals), Buttered Rum (black tea), Chocolate Strawberry (black tea), and Brandy (oolong tea).  Here are my thoughts:

Tahitian Vanilla Rose – smelled great, in my words tasted like “Dollar Store,” had to have more of it before I really understood the lightness of the tea, it was okay

Buttered Rum – when I finally had some it got strong, in my words tasted like “Chinese restaurant tea”

Chocolate Strawberry – very true to flavor!

Brandy – in my words tasted like “Old School House”, interesting but unexplainable flavor

tea

 

Here’s where it got better for me-  the food.  I ordered the High Tea Service.  I liked that all the orders came on their own tier.  There is no confusion as to what’s what or who’s who.  And, when I’m taking photos of each piece, sometimes I have to find spots for the food items I’m not that fond of so I can move on to the photo shoot of the next.  That was really convenient for me!

IMG_1204

cucumber

Here’s the tiny bite of English Cucumber tea sandwich I got.  It’s cute + small, but I’m paying 30 bucks for this meal.  I’d rather have substance, than ‘cute + small.’  It’s was fine.

egg

This is their Egg Salad tea sandwich.  In an oval shape.  Okay.  I didn’t really have much to go off of, so…

chicken

This Chicken Salad tea sandwich was surprising!?  Lots of flavor packed into this little heart.  Full of rosemary, and I don’t even like rosemary!?  I could have eaten these things all day.

crab

Here is their Shrimp & Crab tart.  Tasted very fishy + artificial, but I liked the texture of the filo.  This wasn’t on my menu, so it was thrown in.

turkey

This was their Turkey tea sandwich.  There was avocado in there, which I like.  But, this was below average for me.  It gave me a really nasty aftertaste, so I only tolerated a few bites.  (I bring home my leftovers to my husband + kids…even they didn’t eat this one.)

pineapple

Pineapple & Cream Cheese tea sandwich.  This was fun to see on the menu.  Nothing spectacular, but a nice sandwich to have.

scone

Blueberry Scone with Devon Cream, Lemon Curd + Preserves.  I liked my scone a lot!  It was thin, so that was neat to see.  Very chewy and good flavor.  I think if I had those chicken salad sandwiches + some scones only, I would’ve been happy.  The fixings were pretty sweet though.

Overall, I thought the food was very good.  Lot’s of intricate detail.  My friend’s fruit salad (which she loved) had tiny tiny bits of strawberry cut up in it!  Although pleasing to the eye, I can’t help but think of how much food they waste!!??  Even if I wanted to come back, thinking about that makes me want to skip this place next time.  For every person that doesn’t eat there, is extra tea sandwich from all the leaf + heart shapes SAVED!!

 

Would I come back?  Hmm.  I’ll leave it at a: maybe.  After we paid our bill and the owner saw our business card for the Tour, she got really nice + conversational.  I felt like she won me over.  However, when I really think it through…  She could have been nice from the get.  And, I really could have done without the table of 8 that was there that decided to have a full on CONFERENCE + Team Meeting at a tea house!!?!  I think they ruined my experience from the beginning.  There’s such a thing as using your inside voice and being CONSIDERATE of other guests at a restaurant.  If I come back, it will have to be a long loooong time from now and I will have to be invited.  I don’t see myself hosting anything there.

OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

Effective October 2015, due to schedule congestion, parTEA with me’s California Tea House Tour will be held bimonthly.

After October’s Tea Party, the next scheduled Tour Spot will be in December, continuing this pattern until our remaining spots have been visited. Thank you for continuing to follow our Tour!

Spot #14 :: Satori Tea Company

Our 14th Spot:

Satori Tea Company

37 N. San Pedro Street  San Jose, CA 95110

http://www.satoriteausa.com

 

outside

If you’re not familiar with Downtown San Jose, this place was kinda hard to find.  It’s tucked away behind this blue wall (that I forgot to photograph!).  Very plain outside, but oh so unique inside!!  Lots of cute tea décor, but the most eclectic tea house by far on the Tour.  I wish I took more photos of my surroundings, but I looove to leave some element of surprise for my readers!  Definitely a must-see tea place.

tea wall

table

ceiling

 

Lots of fun choices on the menu.  Seven levels of tea service, including Tea For Two + a 10 and Under option.  Eight tea sandwiches to choose from.  I always like when I can choose my sandwiches.  And best of all: they offer CRUMPETS!!!  Another thing I thought was VERY COOL-  the offer a Tea Flight!?  A choice of 3 teas you can try!  Isn’t that just ultra cool??  A wide variety of tea choices, with really intriguing names.  But, no descriptions on the menu.  You guys all know how much I looove that (insert sarcasm here).  Our wonderful server however, made herself available for any questions on any of the teas.  And she was really informative + helpful!

vanilla

This is the Vanilla Hazelnut oolong tea.  It was recommended by our server, after I told her that I’m a black vanilla tea kinda girl.  Great choice!!  I usually don’t order an oolong, so I was happy to try something different.  Had that really deep vanilla aroma (which is my favorite), and tasted equally comforting.  The flavors weren’t as bold as a black tea, but still a yummy choice.

 

gummy

Guess what this one is?!  GUMMY BEAR!  We were all so surprised when we saw this flavor tea there!?  So thankful to my girlfriend who likes to try the unique ones!  She said this one was sweet, but very drinkable.  I didn’t have a taste of anyone’s pot today (I know, tsk tsk.  But, I enjoy mine!), but I did get really good sniffs!  ;)  This was smelled like something you would find near Willy Wonka’s chocolate fountain!

 

capitola

My girlfriend (who loves the beach) ordered their Capitola Coola botanical tea.  I believe it had hibiscus in it.  She said it was very fruity and she enjoyed it very much!  What was really cool about hers-  check out what it turned into after adding cream…

lavendar

STINKIN GORGEOUS right!!?!

 

earl

No photos of the Earl Grey Crème…’cause my girlfriend finished her whole pot!!  If you’re new to her story, she’s been looking for the perfect earl grey.  This spot had 2!!  Once again, our server was very helpful with my gf’s tea selection.  The Earl Grey Girl says: “Earl crème was bold, with mellow after taste due to vanilla notes.  One of the best earl grey’s I’ve had!!”

 

No shots of the Coconut Chai, either.  But, I did get a good whiff though!  ;)  Smelled wonderful.  Her sentiments about it: “I liked my coconut chai tea very much.  The coconut flavor was definitely a stand out, though still having the traditional chai notes of cinnamon and clover in the background.  Perfected with a splash of cream and harmoniously paired with the carrot cupcake …..or crumpet, for that matter!”  She’s so poetic, isn’t she!?

 

tier

sandwiches

crumpets

I was starving!!  The food was nice.  Some very regular items, but also some super tasty.  I don’t think I would come back based just on the food, but there are some things I wouldn’t mind having again.

My 3 tea sandwich selections were their English Cucumber & Cream Cheese (because you just have to), the Apple Cranberry Chicken Salad (’cause I needed savory today), and Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese & Capers.  Well…  They like a lot of cream cheese.  :/  You needed your handy dandy magnifying glass to see the cucumbers.  There was some crunch in my bites, but very tiny ones.  Not bad tasting, but cream cheese overload indeed.  Same for the salmon.  There was smoked salmon “flavor,” but not very evident that it was in the sandwich.  The chicken salad wasn’t too bad…but, I didn’t think the ratio of ingredients were equal.  Not up to par for my OCD mouth.  The first one I tried, had major almonds or something in it.  The second one: too much apple.  What was nice was we had at LEAST 2 pieces of each of our sandwich flavors.  So, you couldn’t not be full (I know that’s a double negative, but I wanted to say it that way).  It also came with what the menu calls ‘a bed of delicate green salad.’  Even though it was JUST spring mix with a can of mandarin oranges on top, it was a good compliment to the sandwiches.  Despite the below-average food items, they were all still very edible + filling.

 

crumpet

I was very eager to have my crumpet!  it had crunchy edges + gooey middles!  The best thing I ate today, hands down.  What made it, was the sweet RUM BUTTER they slathered on top of em so that they were SUBMERGED by the time you reached for them!!  Ugh, my mouth is watering again just thinking about it.

 

Scones were cute.  Heart shaped.  (sigh)  But I’ve had waaay better.  They were too hard.  Oh yeah, and we searched + searched for the scone filings, then were reminded they were on the top tier!?  Here’s what they looked like:

fixings

(We brought them down on the madeleine plate.)  It’s a gooood thiiiiing no one put those in their mouth!?  You get an ‘E’ for effort on presentation, but-  these just weren’t practical.  There wasn’t enough for 5 scones, and they can be mistaken for a tart.  Someone could’ve easily put a mouthful of lemon curd in their mouth.  Would you want that for your customers?

 

sweets

The desserts were better.  I really liked my Mini Carrot Cupcake.  Sweet with a bit too much frosting, but I coulda easily had one (or 2, okay 2) more.  The Lemon Bar was almost melting.  It didn’t stand up well.  And, much too tart.  Maybe I’m being partial, because, I make a mean lemon bar!!  Hehe.  Okay, and that chocolate thing was GOOD.  It was like a tart of some sort on the bottom + a truffle on top.  Gf said it was much too sweet.  I agree it was rich, but I adored it.

 

Wonderful service!  Our server did her job well.  Can’t complain about anything there.  Average tea house though, overall.  I would say-  go to see the place, ’cause it’s fun.  Try the tea flight.  Let us know your thoughts!?  See yall in a month!

Spot #13 :: The Rotunda [1st Spot on 2nd Leg!]

Our 13th Spot:

The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus

150 Stockton Street  San Francisco, CA 94108

http://www.neimanmarcus.com/stores

 

The 2nd Leg of the Tea House Tour has begun!!?!  We are so excited to see 12 brand new Spots + share our thoughts with you!  Thank you to the THOUSANDS of readers that has made this adventure worth sharing!!  And to my GIRLFRIENDS (Mary, Roni, Tina, Gardenia, Nerresa, Vero, Sarah, Patricia, Melissa, Michelle, Raquel, Rebekah, Alex, Claudia, Amy V, Pi’ilani, Francesca, Vanessa, + Amy L): I am so honored that you wanted to parTEA with me!!

 

This Spot was not meant to be first on this Leg of the Tour…  The actual first spot I wanted to take my girls to-  we are on the waiting list for September!?  Hehe.  So, I moved up what was next in line.  When I found out they served afternoon tea in Neiman Marcus, that just sounded like such a cool experience!  A lot of us were really looking forward to this one.  Boy, did we waste our excitement…

I try to comment on the ease or ridiculousness of making reservations for each Spot, to give you the full scope of our experience.  Sometimes it’s necessary to say, other times not so much.  Making reservations for this spot wasn’t terrible, but the response I got on the phone I could’ve done without.  I usually make the call at least a month prior to our requested visit date.  When I spoke to the “gentleman” for our reservation, he responded with a heavy sigh about “fitting us in.”  Would that make yall comfortable?!  I even asked: “Are you sure??”  And he replied with a reluctant “yeah.”  Ohh…kay…

Here are some unedited views:

restaurant

restaurant 2

view

The table setting is really plain.  (That’s all I could really say about that.)  Upon being seated, they bring you a few things.  1) a Chicken Consomme with a nothing piece of crouton (that looks like someone took a bite out of it, I might add).  2) a fresh Popover with Strawberry Butter.  The soup reminded me of something you would pick up at the cafeteria of a hospital while waiting in the emergency room lobby.  The crouton (which I strategically placed in my photo, because it really looked like a bite was gone!!) lacked flavor + texture.  I do like popovers, and the idea of anything ‘freshly baked’ perks anyone up-  am I right?  But again, these just lacked so much flavor!?  The strawberry butter was nice, but you really had to pack it on that popover for it to be something you’d wanna feed yourself.  Oh and P.S. The dishes were FILTHY!  One that was placed in front of my girlfriend should definitely have not passed the approval to be sent out into the dining room.  The others weren’t as bad, but still annoying.  I just turned my cup, so as not to see the nastiness on the bottom of it (brave, for the OCD in me).

setting

consomme

popover

I feel like everything sorta came out in a hurry, which made sense since the whole meal felt rushed.  (If you guys are Seinfeld watchers, think of the end of the chocolate babka episode.  Totally like that.)  Before I could take a 2nd bite of that popover, here came our 5 teapots.  And there was no space for aaaanything!!  Our server kept asking us to move things out of the way or he did it himself (which is a big no-no), like he was playing Tetris with our place settings!?  And please oh please  n e v e r  touch the mouth parts of my water glass!!?!

Tea was alright.  Of the slim pickens on the menu, we had 4 flavors on our table.  I can’t even really give you anything about them, because my girls didn’t really have much to say.  We ordered the Gout Russe (Chinese tea and citrus fruits essential oils) which my friend said was “a very regular house tea, like Lipton“; the Nuit A Versailles (green sencha basis, bergamot essential oil, kiwi, yellow peach, orange + violet blossom) which my sister says “a little sweet with a taste of citrus“; the Jardin Bleu (blend of teas from India + China, flavored with rhubarb, wild strawberry + cornflower petals) which my friend says “average with hints of coconut + floral“; and of course I chose the Vanilla (Sri Lanka tea with vanilla aroma).  “Aroma” is spot on, ’cause that’s all my tea really had going for it.  It smelled like it was going to be wonderful, but all you got was a very unimpressive cup of tea.

tea

The food portion was just so uneventful.  I’m so glad I have my girls around when I go to these places, because they always make it fun for me!  If they weren’t around to laugh with + see soon-to-be brides looking at wedding dresses across the street with (our window seat faced Vera Wang!), I do not know how I would get through this meal!?  Here are the best photos I could get of these boring tea sandwiches on these boring white plates…

tier          tier 2

egg

Egg Salad + Bacon – Okay, this sandwich was genius.  Who doesn’t love bacon + eggs!!?!  We agreed, we could have had just these.  ‘Cause the others were nothing…

roastbeef

Roast Beef + Horseradish – These were okay.  Flavors were there, but look at all that roast beef!?  It wasn’t necessary.  I think they just did that because they thought it made it look gourmet…

salmon

Salmon Mousse – This thing was so tiny!  The mousse was way too heavy + creamy.  And although pretty, I almost choked on the long chive!  The pastry was dry + crackly.

chicken

Chicken Salad – I get what they were trying to do here (be cute), but it just wasn’t good enough for the price I was paying for this meal.  In my best Chandler voice: “Could this bread BE anymore dry??!!”  I think it cut the inside of my mouth, I think it did.

prosciutto

Prosciutto Wrap – (My gf added the grapes on the plate, ’cause this just was the saddest looking thing.)  It had cheese, apples + nuts in there.  Cool concept, but not enough filling.  It made that thing just bites of salt.

cucumber

Cucumber – Nobody liked this one.  The cheese was not flavored, the cucumbers were soggy, and again with the dried bread!?

scone

Raisin Scone – Very crumbly.  It had nice flavor, but I had to slather a bunch of that preserves on there because it was so darn SALTY for some reason!?  I’m hoping this was just a salty batch maybe!?  And that no one has to go through that again.  I did eat most of it however, because the texture with the crunch edges were my kind of thing.

Ughhh, I’m so glad I’m done with this review!!  That was like pulling teeth for me.  You know I will ALWAYS give you the stone cold truth about each Spot…I don’t know how to be any other way!  It’s just hard when some of these places (excuse my language) suuuuck.  I will never beat around the bush, so it is what it is for this Spot.  It wasn’t an actual tea house, but they serve afternoon tea so we went.  Probably wouldn’t go back to try lunch, because the service wasn’t that great either.  It was just a snooty place, with people who were very matter-of-fact about your visit.  “Here, here’s your cake.  And your wine.  See ya.”