Our 7th Spot:
Camellia Tea Room
828 First Street Benicia, CA 94510
I’m sorta nervous to review this spot…because I don’t want to forget anything!? This place was terrif- no, fantast- no, not that either. No words come to mind to describe how OUTSTANDING this spot was! Thank goodness, as the last spot was a complete disaster (to say the least). We really needed a pick-me-up from the last time, and this tea room was the place to be!!
Our reservations were easy to make. Most tea houses have a couple prerequisites when making your reservation, because there are a lot of delicate arrangements that are being made for your individual table setting. Your final headcount is usually required to be submitted no later than 2 weeks before your event, and there will most likely be a charge if someone in your held party in a no-show. With that being said, even under these typical guidelines, this spot was veeery accommodating with that aspect. I had two in my party who would have loved to join, but couldn’t make the commitment until closer to our event date. Wanting to honor the if-you-don’t-show-you-will-pay-a-fee rule, they opted to just be left out of the reservation (even if later proved they would be able to come). I explained this when I called in for my final headcount, and they were fully cooperative with my guests special needs. Instantly, this place already got an A+ in my book.
Benicia is such a cute little town! My SIL made plans to show up early from our reservation, so we can take some time to walk around + explore our new surroundings. Amazing Antique Mall (yes, I said “mall!!”) on the same side of the street! When you first walk in, it’s very modern. Don’t expect the frill + floral when you visit this spot. It’s kept very minimal, but still warm + friendly. They do have a back counter with gorgeous tea sets + bone china pieces! Their walls are lined with beautiful art showcased by local talent, that I understand changes every month. There’s an awesome story about their ceiling also, but I will leave that off the table so you can have a chance to ask them yourselves when you visit! ;) Right away, we were welcomed with kind greetings + loving faces. It’s a family owned business, and you can totally tell. It seems THEY should be the one’s to claim Olive Garden’s “When you’re here, you’re family!” tag line!!
I won’t give you all the details, because some things are meant to be secrets. But, I WILL say that they pulled out all the stops for us. There were a lot of us this time, 11 to be exact. So there were a lot of tea pots on the table! Of the ones I can mention, my girlfriend that always gets something with rose in it chose the Lavender-Rose. I have one that always always loves her Earl Grey. One of our newcomers on the tour chose their Crème Brulee (black tea with caramel). Someone chose Blue Lady (coconut creme with strawberry + kiwi and blue flowers), which is their best seller. And we had Ginger Peach, which is one of their decaffeinated options. Great selection of teas, lots to try + they were all wonderful! The water temp wasn’t right when we had our first pours, but they came around with hot water a few times to remedy that.
They have five levels of tea service. All of us chose the Traditional Tea. We got 4 finger sandwiches, TWO scones (loved that part) with fixings of course, and an assortment of sweets. All beautifully presented. When I say they ‘pulled out all the stops’, I really meant they bent over backwards for us. When our server mentioned the tea sandwich selections they were offering for the day, my girlfriends each wanted different ones. She totally took care of us and got each sandwich order just perfect! I kept thanking her + I just completely commend her for such extraordinary service.
We all started with a soup (which I’m getting used to). I feel terrible that I didn’t get a shot of their Tomato Bisque, as their kinda known for it. All my girls loved it. My SIL even got another order to-go! I chose the Sweet Potato Soup with Wasabi Creme, becaaaause I’m kind of a wasabi fiend + I do love me some sweet potatoes. It was SO GOOD. I didn’t want to fill up on the soup to save room for the tier, and our server so sweetly boxed the rest up for me.
All of our sandwiches were open-faced, with the exception of the cucumber. This is their Chicken-Artichoke Salad Sandwich, which is just as marvelous as it sounds. The ratio of ingredients is perfect, and it’s not too creamy. The salad moistens the bread nicely, so you get that gooey chewy bite! (Don’t mind me, I’m a bread lover.)
Their Cheddar Chutney Sandwich. To die for. The toast they put it on was addicting!! And the mixture was just heaven. I’m so sad I couldn’t have more of this one, since I can’t have cheddar…but I was so happy I tried it!
Here’s their Curry Chicken Salad Sandwich. Again, ratios: spot on. It’s super important (to me anyway!) to not have so much cream going on so you can taste what’s actually in the mixture. Their curry option was again just right.
Traditional Cucumber. Wonderful ending. It was refreshing + scrumptious. (My SIL kept laughing at me for trying to get the perfect shot of this sandwich!!)
Their sweets were wonderful! The scones (I believe we had Cinnamon Raisin and a Walnut) came with strawberry jam + devon cream. Very good, with a nice crunch. They also had this Lemon Curd Tart with a raspberry on top. That was tart, only had a bite. The Coconut Cake though…I could’ve licked the plate! It was the most moist cake and the frosting was so creamy + gooey. (Okay, my mouth just filled up with water.) Excellent desserts.
I saved the best for last… The service = IMPECCABLE. Not a skipped beat. Our server (and really the whole family! We even got to meet Momma!!) was just THEE BEST. Personable, warm, generous + swift. We really couldn’t have been treated better. And there were so many of us!? She thoroughly explained everything, brought us whatever we needed. Her best friend, who also worked there, came to our table a few times with interesting combos of loose leaf teas to smell. They really just showed us a spectacular time. At the end of our meal, our check was broken down precisely to the penny and they took care of each of us (wait for it) individually!!?! That was just the topping on that miracle cake!! I can really go on about how wonderful they were to us, but I think you’re getting the picture right?!
Of all the spots I’ve shared with you, please go visit this one. You will have an amazing time, enjoy some yummy food, sip delicious tea, and just have a great afternoon. Make sure you stop my that antique mall too! Okay, until next time lovelies… ;)