Our 6th Spot:
Secret Garden Tea Room
721 Lincoln Way San Francisco, CA 94122
Ugh. I’m so not excited to review this place… This is basically how I felt about it:
Period. But…you know I will ALWAYS give you my honest opinion, and I think it’s only fair that owners know what their business is putting out there. And hopefully, in some way, my blog posts (and Yelp reviews) help them to better their service. As a business owner myself, I would welcome the same treatment.
Let’s start with their website. It wasn’t inviting or appealing to me, so already my anticipation for this spot was lowered. They communicated very well, when making arrangements for reservations. The owner (I believe she was), called me within a reasonable amount of time to acknowledge my voicemail message. She even left her personal cell phone number, and assured me she was available to confirm my reservation whenever I was ready. We exchanged emails regarding my head count number, and our preordered tea service selections. I liked that email was an option for corresponding, as being a busy mom a quick email is sometimes preferred than a telephone conversation.
Okay- this is why they are getting a negative review from me. Their tea room was F-I-L-T-H-Y. We are all well aware of those local restaurants that are too dirty to be in business. This tea house reminded me of one of them. Décor was cute. Reminiscent of all the shabby chic elements with that vintage floral print. The china was right, and the chandeliers were gorgeous. BUT- the curtains were disgusting!! Not just dingy, but outright soiled + offensive. I WISH I got a good picture of them, but I do not want to remember those. It was bad enough, they were my view for the afternoon that contributed to my ruined appetite. They brought our tea kettles with USED labels on them!!?! Whooo knoooows how many people have put their gubby hands on those!? It was sickening. Forreal.
The teas were okay, not the best. At our table, we had Jasmine Blossom (green tea layered with jasmine blossoms), Cherries in the Snow (cherry flavored), Mango Moon (black tea from India with mango pieces + marigold flowers), Chocolate Raspberry Truffle (chocolate raspberry flavor), Mid-Summer Night Dream (creamy overtones with vanilla + orange flavor), and Victorian Vanilla (black tea + natural vanilla). Since I’m on this black vanilla kick, I had to order that option. I was hoping it would be similar to the one I had at the last spot, but not even close. First of all, it had a ‘curry’ smell to it. (Yes, I said “curry.”) It didn’t carry over into the flavor, but it was nothing to rave about either. I thought it was rather bland. The others I tried were the chocolate raspberry [very disappointing], and mango [I hurried to finish that one, so I could move on].
The food… You saw my first photo, right?? I couldn’t handle more than a bite of ANYTHING!? Yuck, yuck, and more yuck. I tasted em based purely on having to tell you guys about it. Took photos, but those wouldn’t be helping anybody. I had the Smoke Turkey with Baby Dill and Lemon Capers Cream first. It tasted like turkey with margarita mix!!?! I would not do that again to myself! Next, I had the Egg + Chives. Egg = yum. Chives = yum. Theirs = eh. Even though it was eh, that was the only sandwich I finished to have some savory breaks in my mouth from all the sweetness. They must love sugar. They had a Sweet Orange Cranberry Cream sandwich. (Yeah, who told you to make a diabetic tea sandwich option?!) My girlfriend really liked it, but I thought it was really sweet. Cucumber + Hummus, was my next choice. I like both of those, they shouldn’t be bad together right? Right?? “What the mother of crap is up with this stuff?!” -Phoebe. Uhh, the hummus was oh so wrong. Please, please add garlic or something to your hummus recipe. I went for the Sweet (uh-huh, sweet again) Curry Chicken with Raisins. Not bad, this is the second one I had to finish to ease all the sugar. Apple Cinnamon and Vanilla Cheese (also had slices of green apple), wasn’t a half bad sandwich. But, it was just PACKED with the cream cheese…picture a dog eating peanut butter. Mm-hm. The Tuna Salad (I was very unhappy I saved that for last, let alone put it in my mouth) tasted like it’s been left out ALL DAY. It was so fishy, forreal. Probably should not have been served. After all this disapproval, my SIL persuaded me to try (their answer to a savory) this spicy curry mixture on a crostini. It was good, but still something was off about it. I wanted to have more of the crostini BY ITSELF, then have to eat any more of what was served to me this afternoon.
The service was remarkable. Each of the ladies that came to our table were very sweet. The price point wasn’t bad. We left a good tip, since they were kind. However, I will NOT be coming back to this spot.
Ohh, the scone!! The scone was delightful!! It was Apple Cinnamon, our server said “she thinks.” At first, they felt so hard!? I had to saw it open with my butter knife, crumbs everywhere. The clotted cream was fine, but whatever the preserves were- it reminded me of slices of tuna sashimi!!?! It was so gelatinous, you couldn’t even spread it?! Funny thing though…it was good! Best part of the tea service was that darn crispy scone that we “think” was apple cinnamon. Thanks for the scone guys!