Our 8th Spot:
Tal-Y-Tara Tea & Polo Shoppe
6439 California Street San Francisco, CA 94121
“Oh. You have more people in your party??” That’s how we were greeted. Apparently, a couple had walked in right behind us… But let’s not forget the awkward 90-second stare down we received from the ENTIRE establishment (YES, including all the wait staff) as soon as we walked in, where you can hear the crickets just like in the movies!? No welcome, no warmth. That right there, was the discouraging foreshadow of what our future meal was about to entail.
The menus were suuuuper confusing. It seems they have 3 levels of tea service, but are all ‘for two.’ If you want a single serving of anything, it must be à la carte. No one offered us any explanations either, so we were left to figure this for ourselves. We did ask, and our assumptions were then confirmed.
How are you a tea house when you discourage your customers from ordering any tea?? Since we couldn’t figure out how or what to order, our server wanted to know if she could get any pots started for us. She says for our party of SEVEN, that she recommends maybe only 2 pots of tea (get this) “because any more wouldn’t fit on our table”!? What in the world is that!!?! Since we had such a limitation, we told her we’d have to discuss these important choices. She did say we could switch em out during the course of our meal…but still- really? Plus, we still needed to figure out HOW to order and WHAT to order. We were so sorry we asked, since she kept insisting we order this tea sandwich “platter” (wait for it) that they ALREADY MADE FOR US!!?! They’re supposedly known for this motorloaf bread (we know, we were thinking about ‘motorboating‘ the whole time too!), that she talked up saying it was a hearty bread filled with walnuts, etc. Welp, they must’ve been unable to be seen with the naked eye as my girlfriend pointed out there wasn’t anything in there!? The “platter” (there goes that word again) suppooooosedly served two people “maybe even 3” she says. We so badly wanted to order single servings of tea sandwiches as opposed to this ALREADY PREPARED infamous platter just to be rebellious, ’cause- who does that?? Whyyy would we want something that was sitting out for who knows how long and nooo one wants anything that’s being pushed on them. Even still, the “platter” was the better choice since we didn’t want to pay for any more of what they had to offer in support of a tea house we were ready to walk out of as soon as we were seated. So it was decided: we were ordering the 2 stale “platters” they thoughtfully (insert sarcasm here) prepared for us.
That took care of the tea sandwich selections, now for the scones. At 6 bucks for ONE scone, we wanted to make sure not to over-order. (No we’re not cheap, but trust me- you wouldn’t feel like you’d wanna give this place any of your money either.) They had 5 kinds to choose from today: Lemon, Blueberry, Black Currant, Orange Ghirardelli Chocolate, and a savory Bacon Cheddar. We ordered 1-2 of each flavor except the blueberry. Okay, that choice = made.
Now the teas… My earl grey gf who’s on the hunt for the perfect one, wanted an earl grey selection. But, there were 2 listed on the menu. I guess they had 2 types from different vendors. When she asked what the difference was between the 2, our server said she’d have to get her manager to explain that to us. Ohhh…kaaay… Of course, the manager never came. Our server finally comes back with a container in her hands, and says that they’re out of one so my gf can smell the loose leaf tea of the one that they do have. This particular one had lavender in it, so my girlfriend said she’d try it. My girl had really good things to say about it. And, although I didn’t get a chance to taste it, I could smell it and it reminded me of the spa! It smelled really good. We also ordered the Wild Strawberries black tea and Vanilla Bean Creme black tea. Lots of good comments from my dolls about the strawberry, and I liked (not loved) the vanilla. How- ever- when they refilled the vanilla, they made it SO strong it poured out BLACK girrrl!? I joked that they were mad at us, and my other gf said that they wanted us to be up all night thinking about their bad service! Lol.
This is what the “platters” looked like:
WHAT ARE THESE?? And did they really think these 2 lousy things were gonna fit 7 whole people!? I was livid. How were we even supposed to eat it? It’s like they concentrated so hard on trying to make their presentation stylish + cute with all this wax paper, when it really makes you think “where are my sandwiches?!” We had. To. CUT. These little things. In FOUR!!?! 20 bucks for each of these plates and we only get a BITE!? What is that?? How are you a restaurant?? You don’t even FEED your customers!! You demand they eat something you already made for them and there’s nothing to eat!? Ooh, I was hot.
At one point, I asked my girlfriend how she liked a certain sandwich and she says to me “Oh, I haven’t tried any yet. They’re still being distributed.” What kind of mess is that?!
Here’s the egg and cucumber:
The egg was bland + dry, and tasted like it had been sitting out ‘CAUSE IT WAS! The cucumber bite I had (I feel like my reviews aren’t even complete, ’cause I didn’t even have a whole sandwich to base em off of!?) was a dollop of cream cheese (no dill or anything) and a soggy piece of cucumber.
This is the ham and smoked salmon:
I liked the mustard that was made with the ham, but that’s about it. And the salmon (again) tasted like it had been out for awhile. Again, with a chunk of cream cheese, but the capers made it better.
When she brought out the scones, she told us which flavors were which the says “SOME of which were made today.” EW!!!
This is all the piece of scone I got to have:
The orange chocolate was pretty good. I have to say, I did really like the cream + preserves that were served. And, the scones had good crunchy edges + nice soft centers. I ate as much scone as I could to fill my sad tummy.
Here’s what the place looked like, in case you’re interested…
We basically left that tea house STARVING. We were scared to ask to use the bathrooms, because the place looked creepy + we were just treated so COLDLY. So, we all had full bladders upon our exit. The customer service was really just terrible. We had very little food, then felt like we were being rushed out. They quickly bussed our table, and we got stares + hands on hips as we tried to enjoy the last of our limited pots of teas while girl-chatting. Not only will we not be returning, but I will be going a notch further to tell my readers NOT to visit this tea house. They do not deserve service from any sweethearts as yourselves looking to enjoy some afternoon tea.