El Cajon, California
In the last ten years since I've seriously begun visiting tea rooms, I've discovered many wonderful ones. A few I've visited repeatedly. And many have closed in the meantime. I'm always looking for new ones, and any vacation gives me a chance to further broaden my horizons. These are tearooms I've visited and enjoyed. I try to keep it up to date but some close without me knowing, so I apologize if I miss one. As always, get a reality check, and call first to see if it's still open, and I always recommend making a reservation.
The Julian Tea & Cottage Arts Julian Ca
This is in a historic house in the mountain community of Julian, a former gold mining town. It's located in the Cuyamaca Mountains, a 50 mile drive east from San Diego. It's one block east of Julian's Main Street. The Julian Tea Room has been my favorite since the first time I visited it three and a half years ago. It's small and cosy, very restful, wonderful food, and a tea cup collectors dream of a gift shop. Their house special tea is Taylor & Harrogate's Yorkshire Gold. Sitting in the tea room, with classical music playing in the background, will sooth your ruffled feathers. The servers are very attentive and Edie, the owner, will make sure your visit is special. Let her know if it's a special occasion. Be sure to check out my painting of their tea room in the front porch.
One from my wish list
Dunbar Tea Room Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
I managed to check this one off my wish list this year. I had visited it's website numerous times and dreamed of someday visiting it. A trip to the east coast, and a drive through the Fall colors took me to Cape Cod and to the historic town of Sandwich. A walk through a gift shop loaded with goodies, which I filled my hands with, took us into a warm, inviting room in front of a fireplace. Wood planked floors and lacey curtains made it a comforting place. There was also an enclosed patio area for outside seating. The sandwiches were a stacked selection of three fillings and very good. The deserts were a little too sweet but delicious. And they served larger portions of food for those wonderful guys who bring us to tea rooms. My only disappointment was that my tea was served in a coffee cup, not a china tea cup. This is a beautiful place to have tea and feel a connection to the past. Take time to walk through the village and see all the old Sea Captain's homes, many of which are bed & breakfasts now. And there are some very nice antique malls. Lots of tea cup hunting here.
Someplace in Time Old Towne Orange, Ca.
5-1-05. This tearoom has closed. But please visit their new tearoom across the street, Paris in a Cup http://www.parisinacup.com/
The Empress Hotel, Victoria, B.C., Canada
Going to the Empress is a once in a lifetime experience. The price is steep and the lines are long. But you have to try it once. This was the first place I ever had afternoon tea. It was over 30 years ago and my memory is dim but I will never forget those crumpets dripping with honey. Or the simple elegance of the place. When I was able to return to Victoria a few years ago, I again went to the Empress. This time I forgot they had a dress code and was wearing jeans. But I found out a great secret. The Maitre 'd told me I could go to their downstairs garden restaurant and have a full tea. And it costs less! And it still was a nice experience.
A Truly British Experience
Ye Olde Copper Kettle Poulsbo, Wa.
This shop has closed. But I've been told there is another, Lala Land Chocolates, that serves a yummy tea. I have no info on it yet, until I have a chance to visit Washington again.
Barcliff & Bair
1112 State Street, Santa Barbara, Ca. 805-965-5742
Barcliff & Bair was recommended to me for afternoon tea by an employee at The Upland Hotel, a beautiful Victorian near downtown Santa Barbara. She told me it was an excellent restaurant and bakery, and their food was so good, their afternoon tea had to be great. And she was right. The sandwiches, made from very tasty breads, the scones (extremely excellent] and desserts were very good. Everything was made fresh and hot right there. Barcliff & Bair is a warm, sunny restaurant facing the main street. The glass front of the building allows you to watch the shoppers go by, as you relax inside and enjoy your tea. The waitresses paid a lot of attention to the details on the tables, setting everything just right. My tea was a little strong and bitter, probably too much loose tea in the pot, but all in all, I enjoyed it very much. I would recommend it to any tea room lover.
1055 2nd Ave, San Diego, Ca. 619-238-1818
2/02**My friend and I had a nice, refined tea at the Westgate. It was $14, much lower than we expected. And we were treated like we were queens. Very nice. The tea was served in the lobby of the historic hotel, and there was a live harp player next to us. It was off to the side of the entrance, so we weren't disturbed by guests. The sandwiches were interesting. Three pinwheel types, salmon, roast beef, and turkey. A walnut and some kind of sweet chutney on brown bread, and a watercress sandwich [which the bread was very dry]. The desserts were very good. A strawberry dipped in milk chocolate, instead of dark, which was good. A mini banana cream tart [I want to make those], a mini lemon cake with coconut and whipped cream, a cream puff, and an awful overdone, unripe raspberry tart. Afternoon tea is served every day starting at 2:30pm. So it's nice you're not limited to the days you can go. And it's a wonderful place to have a birthday celebration. Shoppers can also cross the street to The Horton Plaza shopping mall.
Two Tea rooms in Victoria, Canada
The Gatsby Mansion
3/02**The Gatsby Mansion is a beautiful white Country Victorian house with a surrounding deck just one street behind where the ferries land in Victoria. The windows inside still had their pink stained glass and gave a pinkish color to the room. Since this was the off season, and the weather was cold and rainy, there were only two other tables being used. So it was soothing and quiet, with soft classical music in the background. We were brought our tea and had a cup, then our sandwiches came. They were all pinwheels, using white and brown bread. One was an English cucumber with citrus butter [very tart and lemony], an egg salad with a piece of sweet pickle in the middle, and a salmon with butter. The scones were soft, with a crisp outside and cranberries. It was the first time Mom tried them with cranberries and she really liked it. The strawberry jam was really good and we used all of it and the clotted cream that we could. They also came with a wine glass filled with chopped fresh fruit. Dessert arrived: a smaller wine glass filled with chocolate mousse, raspberries in the bottom, and topped with white chocolate shavings. There were squares of blackberry crumb cake, chocolate and peanut butter bar, and something called a Naimaio bar. [Naimaio is a town in Canada]. It was good, whatever is was. But altogether was too much sweets for me. This tea costs $18.95. That's in Canadian so it probably costs $10 U.S. The exchange rate was fantastic. $1.00 Canadian was worth $1.60 U.S., so our dollar was almost double the value.
The James Bay Tea Room
3/02**This was a little white house on a corner, with black and white stripped awnings overhead. It was about two blocks up from the ferry landing in Victoria. It was a true English lunchroom. They serve an unpretentious afternoon tea. Two sandwiches, just cut in half, tuna salad, and egg salad, very tasty. The tea pot was a Brown Betty, wrapped in a knitted tea cozy. The scones were very fluffy lumps, and the clotted cream came in an overflowing compote dish. I couldn't even use it all. Dessert was a small lemon tart. Just enough food and not too sweet. Mom had steak and kidney pie, which she said was wonderful.
The Cobblestone Cottage
1945 Alpine Blvd, Alpine, Ca. 619-445-6064
6/01** This tea room is situated in the mountain town of Alpine, halfway to the Laguna Mountains. I've visited the tea room once, under another owner. Service at that time was outside in a lovely garden, with a craft store inside. The table table settings were absolutely gorgeous. The food was yummy and I think we had a wide choice of Earl Grey and herbal teas. It was recently sold, & seating now is inside also. A friend who went, said it was still just as nice. Guess I'll have to visit this one again too.
I visited Cobblestone again under it's new ownership. I can only say they improved an already nice tea room. They've expanded to seating indoors along with the outside garden tables. The table settings almost take your breath away with the colors, and the food was tasty and well done. Sitting in the garden having tea, with a waterwheel going behind you and birds chirping away is very relaxing.
Mrs. Burton's Tearoom
Heritage Park, Old Town, San Diego, CA 619-294-4600 THIS SHOP HAS CLOSED MAY 2010
6/02**The Burton House is in a group of old Victorian homes which were moved from areas around San Diego to Heritage Park in Old Town, which was the first established town in S.D. Many of the original buildings are still standing and refurbished. Including the haunted Whaley House. The Burton House is a lovely creamy yellow house with white trim. Others are turquoise and maroon, and one is very dark colors, brown and maroon but apparently original colors. As we walked in the front door of Mrs. Burton's, we first saw lace and hats all over. We were greeted by the owner, Judy, who commented how nice we were dressed but that we weren't fully dressed yet. She lead us into a room full of beautiful lacey hats and told us to pick one out to wear.Most are for sale, and very tempting. We were then finished off with a boa. We wandered the rooms, looking at the lovely table settings, as none were occupied yet. Tea cups and pots were all around us for sale, as where lacy Victorian wear. More ladies began to arrive, so Judy ushered us onto a porch and took photos of us. She reminded us that we were not to smile or touch each other [ie, put our arm around each other] for the photo, as the Victorians frowned on this. Of course then we got another photo with big smiles. Because there were two large parties booked, she gave us a nice quiet porch seating, looking out over the croquet lawn. A couple ladies walking by, saw us on the porch all dressed up, and stopped to take photos. We had birds flying around; a little hummer came visiting, and another bird had a nest in a hanging plant behind us, and popped in and out a few times. A little bee buzzed by a few times. He seemed entranced by my tea rose colonge. All in all, a restful Spring day. Tea arrived. We had a choice of Earl Grey or Vanilla Cream Spice. We chose Vanilla Cream of course, and were we ever happy. It was wonderful. It's made by Davidson's. [ww.davidsonstea.com] We bought two cans to take home. The three tiered plate stand held our scones, desserts and sandwiches. We first started with scones, a little cold and hard but good, and they came with cream and lemon curd, and some sliced sweet strawberries. We each got four sandwiches. One was made of carrot shreds, peanuts, and cream cheese. The carrots gave the cream cheese a yellowish color, which stumped us what was in it, until our waitress told us it was just from the carrots. We thought there was another secret ingredient but guess not. I'd recommend anyone trying to make one of those. The other sandwiches were a tuna salad, pineapple with cream cheese, and cucumber with cream cheese. Desserts were a lemon square, a lemon mousse over cream cheese I think, and a chocolate-peanut butter bar, very rich. We were satisfied but not stuffed. And it was not overly sweets-based. We then went to pay our bill, $18 person. I'd highly recommend it.
The Victorian Manor
204 N. Olive St. Old Towne Orange, CA. 714-771-4044
6/02**The Manor is a gorgeous light purple Victorian, among a bunch of other Victorian and Craftsman Bungalows in the area. A rose garden surrounded one side of it. Cute signs, like Time for Tea, were scattered in the yard. The interior was very rich with a dark wood staircase and railings. Hats covered the walls, along with watercolor pictures for sale. Lots of frou-frou and eye-candy. The china was mismatched, which I like to do also, but I do like my cup and saucer itself to match. It wasn't crowded, being a Thursday, but there was only one server, and she rushed back and forth the whole time, trying to serve everyone. We each had our own pot of tea, Black Currant for me, [yummy, I drank it all even tho we "were" going to share]. My friend had Spiced Peach, which she said was lightly fragrant, and my other friend had Earl Grey Lavender, which she gulped down quickly and had to order more so she could share. Obviously it was very good. Our scones were triangle, cake-like, with a glaze so it tasted like a glazed donut. Very different but good with the jelly and whipped cream. I think the jelly was plum. Our three tier tray arrived with the lower plate of sandwiches, center with veggies and fruit sticks, the top with three Lindt truffles. My friend also ordered some Chicken Tortilla soup, which the server forgot until later, but she said it was delicious. The sandwiches were egg salad, tuna salad, cream cheese with sundried tomatoes, and one just cream cheese. All of them had cream cheese. Too much for me. I was a little disappointed in them. And no cucumber! The dessert was yummy: cheese cake [of course] with a delicious raspberry sauce and whipped cream. Unfortunately there was a group of business ladies behind us, apparently in for lunch, who were loud, and one's cell phone went off about three times. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give it a 5. Nice atmosphere,but a little noisy. OK food. If you have a choice, go to one of the nice lunchrooms located up and down the street.
Shakespeare's Corner Shoppe
3719 India St., San Diego, CA 619-683-2748
This tearoom is served on an outside deck. It's closed sometimes during the winter.
7/02**My friends and I had a wonderful British tea at Shakespeare's. We were seated outside on a deck, enjoying the nice San Diego breeze from the bay. Inside the shop is an Anglofile's food dream. Everything is imported from England. All our food was cooked fresh and each sandwich had it's own distinctive taste. The tea was brewed with loose tea leaves, we had the Darjeeling and Earl Grey. The scones were delicious with thick Devon cream and English jam. Now the desserts were all really interesting. Selena, the manager, brings all kinds of sweets and goodies from England, and serves it as our dessert. The best part was we could go into the shop afterwards and buy it all to take home. You can also buy frozen pasties, bangers, shepherd's pie, and other British yummies. Selena was delightful. Just listening to her British accent was nice but she also stood and talked to us awhile, and shared her beginnings with the new shop. This is a no frou-frou shop but if you want a truly British afternoon tea, this is the place to go. We TRULY wish her well, and hope she stays around for a long time. The shop is located next to the Shakespeare's Pub & Grill, which serves British food. It's close to the San Diego Airport and just off Highway 5, so it's close for travelers to visit.
The McCharles House
335 South C Street, Tustin, CA 714-731-4063 UPDATE-THIS IS NO LONGER A TEAROOM MAY 2010
7/02**Just from the descriptions of the McCharles House, I really wanted to visit it. When a friend recommended it, that was all I needed to hear. We arrived during Christmas in July, a Victorian tradition where they decorate their homes early for Christmas. Lights and garlands were draped around the rooms, all beautifully decorated with antiques and tea cups. The loveliest part of McCharles tea was the presentation. A lot of work went into making everything beautiful and fresh looking. Edible flowers and herbs adorned our plates. We especially appreciated the young ladies serving us. They were dressed nicely, not in shorts and t-shirts, as some have before. I think this said a lot for this tea room. The owner came out a couple times herself, to see how everything was. She is very excited about her shop, and it shows in all the personal touches. I am truly envious of her. The tea room inside was all rich, dark wood, very atmospheric, very Victorian. To soften it, there were tea cups displayed everywhere. It was decorated for Xmas, with white lights and gold garlands all over, and a Xmas tree next to us. It had small American flags in it, which kind of threw off the theme, I thought. The rooms are cozy, and we're close enough to others to join in conversations and share. We of course had to ask others what they were having. I'd read elsewhere that some felt it was a little close. I enjoyed it. I ordered the McCharles House Blend tea but it wasn't anything special. Just a generic tasting one, possibly a breakfast tea. But it was served properly and it kept reappearing in my tea cup, without my even noticing. The sandwiches were tasty but unfortunately I have been ruined for cream cheese. I wish everyone would stop using cream cheese as a food, and use it like butter. Just a little spread on the bread. I could hardly taste the cucumber in my sandwich. But the turkey with cranberry jam was yummy! The watercress was crisp and flavorful. I had a raisin scone with a crisp crust. Homemade strawberry(?) jam and the McCharles cream [which we couldn't identify] came with it. I had strawberries, kiwis, and blueberries on my plate. Mine was the Victorian tea. It came with a small wine glass of cold apricot soup. To die for!! It tasted like a fresh cold apricot. And on a hot day like we were having, very appreciated. Serving it in the glass was a nice touch too. When our dessert arrived, Karen and I opted for the trifle. It was a rich mixture of chocolate. Very rich. I couldn't even finish mine. But we both tried Yvonne's coconut cake, and I wished I had room for more of that! I highly recommend the cake. The price of the afternoon tea was a little high, the most expensive was $34, mine was $28. I think $24 for my tea would have been fine, but it was a wonderful experience, and we all very much enjoyed it. It will be a nice memory for all of us to share.
11/02***We visited McCharles House again on this date. After Karen & I left the tea room and were wandering antique shops in Old Towne Orange, we kept noticing each other sighing with contentment. That should give you an idea of the most wonderful and pampering tea we've had. We attended the Saint Nicolas tea that Vivian holds during the holidays. It had special additions to the menu, which changes during the different seasons. Vivian is a wonderful cook, and some of the goodies we were treated to were a gourmet's delight. First off, a single room was newly opened upstairs, with a table for 4, and we were her first customers to be allowed to use it. It was a cozy attic-like room, with a slanted roof, windows level with the floor, and a dresser built into the wall. The room was decorated with two Xmas trees, adorned with white lights, colorful Xmas balls and garlands, and gingerbread men and angels. The table was covered with a pink pointsettia tablecloth and there was a tiny tree in the center. We were brought a pot of chocolate tea, a black tea with a hint of chocolate. The aroma was wonderful and the tea was flavorful. Not a heavy chocolate taste. We were then each brought a large plate, and I mean large, holding our sandwiches, an herb scone with an Edwardian cheese spread [a concoction Vivian baked with cream cheese, garlic, cayenne pepper..??..absolutely wonderful!!!] A Xmas tree shaped currant scone, with cream and homemade strawberry jam. We also had a slice of her delicious coconut cake, and a small wine glass of chocolate trifle, which the recipe is in the Great Tea Rooms of America book. BTW, Vivian signed my copy of the book under her photo! Karen bought her copy while we were there and had it signed also. Our plate was sprinkled with rose and nastursum petals, cranberries and red and green hard candies. Very Xmassy. As we had just started to eat, we were brought a small Xmas tea cup of egg nog. The change from hot tea to cold nog was very refreshing. A few minutes later we were brought servings of a cold wild rice dish, mixed with raisins, green onions, and walnuts in a sweet red cider vinegar sauce. Before we had a chance to finish that, we were each brought little Xmas plates with a chicken medalllion roasted with a fig, apricot, and olive in olive oil mixed with oregano and brown sugar. What a wonderful combination! Vivian is truly a gourmet cook. We also had a fig wrapped in bacon, which I would have never thought of combining. I was so distracted by all these wonderful additions to our table, that I didn't pay much attention to the sandwiches. There was of course, cucumber with watercress, turkey with cranberry cream cheese on pumpernickel, another on pumpernickel, and the last, raisin bread with a cranberry spread, with white chocolate chips. I don't know where she comes up with these combinations, but it was like eating dessert. Of course by now, we were so full, we barely made it thru the rich chocolate trifle with fresh cream poured over it, and only made a few bites of the coconut cake before we had to ask for a take-home box. Our meal cost $34 each, but we think it was truly worth it. The food was fabulous, the care and serving was meticulous. We were told Vivian has a rule for her servers that the water glass is never allowed to go down more than two inches, and tea cups are always full. Her servers are dressed in neat red jumpers and white blouses. This is a tea room owner who pays close attention to all details. And you really notice it. Vivian came up to visit with us four times, and we shared some stories and photos. Apparently our servers were told we were regulars and we were treated as special guests. Vivian also told us her business has increased lately due to an article about her shop in the Westways magazine, put out by the Auto Club of So. California. Karen and I dressed up in our Gibson Girl shirtwaists again, and were dreading the hot weather, especially in an old house. We were fortunate that it didn't get as hot as predicated and we were at least comfortable in our long skirts. Even as we made the long drive home, we were still sighing. Our senses are peaked for the season coming up, and we're ready to start decorating for the holidays. It was a truly wonderful day.
220 Avenida Del Mar, San Clemente 949-498-7813
7/02**If you've ever been to the old Ticky Boo tea room in Carlsbad, then you already have an idea of what Posh Peasant looks like. The outside of the building was very unpretenious. It doesn't let on how much like a secret garden the inside looks. It's delightful! Frou frou galore! It's very feminine and flowery, and eclectic. The walls were covered in ladies hats, groups of china saucers surrounded by a picture frame, and beautiful floral arrangements abound. The ceiling is covered with crystal chandeliers, at least 10 of them. There are three back rooms. One had a circle of comfortable cozy chairs with a small coffee table in the center. It looked so relaxing. Service was a little slow due to only one server for all the tables. Even during the middle of the week, it was busy at lunchtime. We ordered our first pot of tea, the Posh Peasant Blend. The flavor was passion fruit, pomegranete and vanilla. It was a wonderful soft fruit flavor, and then the vanilla came out. Yumm. Our second pot was The Queens Garden [or something like that]. It was Earl Grey with jasmine but way too strong for the afternoon. They have many choices of tea, including some estate teas. It would be worth going back just to try more. Our sandwiches were served in individual silver bon bon trays with the handle in the center. Very different. I must say these were the best sandwiches I've had in awhile. Our currant scones were served with real Devon cream, which was like a butter, and a strawberry jam. It came with a strawberry that was sliced with the stem on, so it stayed as one piece, but very pretty. We each had a small lemon tart with a rich raspberry stuck in the center. The pastry was the best I've had. We each ordered the Sampler Tea, which was $12.75. The Afternoon Tea, which includes cookies and breads, was $20.75. If you could tell by all our giggles and laughter, we had a great time at Posh.
Tea Room on Los Rios
31731 Los Rios, San Juan Capistrano, CA 949-443-3914
8/14/02**Picture yourself driving down a dusty road behind the railroad station. The train whistles in the background. You come up to a vine covered house with a veranda surrounding it. People are sitting at tables on the porch, chatting and drinking tea, probably iced this time of year. It was warm, but a cool breeze was making it's way up the road. Karen & I met Marietta, and her daughter, Heather, at the entrance. Together we all stepped thru a white rose-covered trellis, and walked up the steps of Los Rios house, and into another time. The walls are covered in rich colored wallpapers. The furniture, many heavy massive pieces, fill each room, and display beautiful tea cups. It's cool, with ceiling fans quietly blowing. We swished our long skirts inside, and were led by a young man to a corner room to our table. We each ordered our own tea, Black Currant, Mango, Queen Catherine, and Vanilla. Quite a variety of tastes. Our heart-shaped scones arrived with strawberry jam, and a cream very much on the sour cream side. Tea was poured and we continued learning about each other. This is what tea time is for. Talking and listening, and taking time for each other. Our sandwiches arrived, each of our's on an individual plate. Tasty chicken salad, egg salad, ham salad, and cucumber with a dill flavored cream cheese, were arranged on the plate with flowers. A small bowl of fruit was brought with tiny dishes of brown sugar and fresh cream. These were poured over the fruit. Heaven. The fruit bowl was a mix of blueberries, sliced strawberries, kiwi, grapes, cantalope, pineapple and honey dew. A recipe worthy of putting into my own recipe book. Desserts were then served in small wine glasses. A strawberry trifle, very simple, with a layer of pound cake on the bottom, flavored with sherry, a mixture of sliced strawberries and vanilla pudding, and topped with fresh whipped cream. A brillantly colored rose bud of orange and gold had been stuck into the top of the whipped cream. The bread pudding was topped with brandy sauce, and a bright orange flower. The Mamboche, a chocolate brownie topped with vanilla pudding, hot fudge, and cream, also topped with a flower. The lemon tart was a brilliant yellow. All were wonderful tasting.I usually write more about the tea and food served, but the Los Rios had a feeling about it, that the meal was only part of the afternoon. This tea room had a quiet, resonating atmosphere that seemed to slow down time. We were there almost three hours and hadn't even realized it.
Rose Tree Cottage
828 E. California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 626-793-3337
8/20/02**Some people may ask how do you tell an excellent afternoon tea from just a good one? I would say it's when something really impresses you or stands out from the ordinary. It couldn't be just one thing. It would be a number of things. It would include a warm welcome at the door, and a gracious invitation to join them for tea. It would be a room that you can tell is special as soon as you walk in. Those little touches by someone who cares very much what their guests think. It would be someone who waits until you are settled in at your table, and makes you feel special by all the attention given you. It would be someone who seves the tea, asking if you'd like cream or sugar. Basically, it would so impress you that you knew that this was THE best tea room you had ever been in. That describes the Rose Tree Cottage, owned and operated by Edmund & Mary Fry for 28 years. Edmund is extremely proud of his shop and rightly so. He shared all his photos of previous visitors, many very well known. Shortly after we were seated, Edmund, with teapot in his right hand and creamer in his left, poured our tea, Rose Tree's own English Village Tea [a black afternoon blend]. As Edmund pointed out to me in an article about him in a magazine, it's "milk first, then tea, so as not to stain the cup". I never found out what happens if you don't take cream. Our scones came first, fresh and hot, still steaming from the oven, served with the house jam, Summer Pudding, a mix of strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Spreading the jam with the Devon cream on my scones, it dripped down my fingers, and I had to lick off every drop. Mary then rolled out the tea cart, an enormous three level gold metal and glass shelved tray, covered & draped with white tulle. Each end of the tulle was weighted with little bunches of flowers. The shelves held all the three tiered servers loaded with sandwiches and fruit. Our first sandwich was a tiny round crusty bread with roast beef, chutney, and a little horseradish mixed in a bit of cream cheese. We had a cucumber, still tart from it's vinegar bath, spread with butter, and a tomato and cheese. There was two of each and we were quite full from them. Dessert was an English treat, Sticky Toffee Pudding, which Mary advised us to put the rest of our Devon cream on, Excellent suggestion. And some homemade shortbread, which I had no room left to eat. If you ever have even a chance of visiting this tea room, put it at the top of your list.
U.S. Grant Hotel
326 Broadway, San Diego, CA
**12/02***The US Grant is an old historic hotel in San Diego. The lobby was dominated by a huge Xmas tree, with dining areas on each side of the aisle. This is where afternoon tea is served, so you can people-watch as they pass thru to the main lobby to check in. A pianist sits among you and plays, rather too loudly I thought. I arrived about a half hour early to make sure everything would go smoothly. While I promenaded around in the lobby in my Victorian dress, men and women walking by me would comment on how lovely I looked. [How often do we get to hear that?] Some became more curious and started asking me questions about why I was dressed like this. Then we got down to: how comfortable is a corset? How did I drive with a bustle on? [quite easily] and general questions of dressing, and cleaning the clothes. We were all having a great time. I think I would have enjoyed just spending the afternoon cruising the hotel. Maybe I could be a ghost? But the other ladies soon arrived; Karen, my "tea roadie"; her daughter and her friend; a friend of Karen's from work; and Yvonne, who's shared past tea adventures with us. We got to meet Lois, from the Ladies Tea message board, for the first time. She brought her mother and her son, who was dressed in a vest and red bow tie. I really think he enjoyed the pretty young ladies who joined us, and Lois said he likes afternoon tea. Lois was dressed in her blue Civil War dress, complete with hoop skirt, and literally floated down the stairs and aisle. We even made her go upstairs once more to watch her come down. Karen was wearing her floral tea dress and black straw hat. Everyone else was dressed for Xmas. We passed around a couple hats to those not completely dressed. *grin* We settled down at our tables, with Lois and I going last, to wiggle our hoops and bustles in. We had a couch for three at the end and chairs around the rest of the three tables we were seated at together. Tea was off to a bad start. I think it was 20 minutes later when we finally asked when we were going to get our pots of tea. After another 10 minutes I was asked if I had ever picked out which package we were having. ?? No one even mentioned this before. I had just called in a reservation. So I was shown the menu- Afternoon Tea for $16.95, and a Champagne tea for more $. They normally give you three different teas during the meal but the tea wasn't anything special so I choose just Darjeeling, which was a good choice. Later while paying the bill, I found out the cost was more but hadn't been reflected in the menu. Finally, we were brought two pots of tea-for 9 of us! And they were slow on the refills, so we had to sit and wait a few times for another cup. The sugar bowl didn't have tongs because they said people kept stealing them. So we had to use our fingers. (Excuuuuuuse me, but sugar tongs wholesale are $1 or less, so if you loose one a day.....] Sandwiches were soon brought out, nothing fancy. I remember ham slices and of course salmon, which I took my one bite and put in down. Nothing to rave about but they weren't bad, so I won't discount them for that. The scone was small and hard but still tasty. It came with tiny jars of jam, which I think are so cute. The cream was good but not Devon. The desserts were fancy, too sweet, and seemed to be mass produced. A pumpkin bar dipped in chocolate was probably the best. A couple ladies got an eggnog cookie which was yummy but we had to share for all to try it. It was like a shortbread but eggnog flavored. Now I sit here and think how I've had much better teas at other places but both Karen and Lois said they'd been here before and the tea was very good. So it may have been a bad day, definitely not enough servers, and you'd think they'd plan better for a busy holiday season. This is supposed to be a special tea for them. But I'll tell you what made it special: it was the friends who gathered together this day, some meeting for the first time and connecting after only previously chatting on the internet. We had a good time. As I've mentioned before, you get the good with the bad. If it balances out, then I think the US Grant is worth a second chance. But during a less busy time of year.
The Yellow Rose Tearoom
48811 Oakhurst, CA
4/03*** The Yellow Rose is located in Oakhurst, CA, about 20 mins before you get to the south entrance of Yosemite National Park. It doesn't look like a tea room. In fact, I didn't even know I was walking up to one at the time. I was looking for antique shops and saw The Clutter Closet, a mustard yellow house on a corner, rather non-descript, with nik naks on the front porch. As I walked up I saw a black sillouete of a tea pot. I thought, oh good, they might have tea cups. Then I saw the lettering around it, The Yellow Rose Tea room. !!! The special of the day was Shepherd's Pie. I walked inside and saw thru the back door the most wonderful Victorian decorated room. Deep greens on the wall, floral border prints, and lace curtains. It was small, with two four person tables, three two person tables, and a round coffee table with a couch and three chairs around it. I ran outside and dragged hubby back in, promising him Shepherds Pie. Each person gets their own tea pot, which in my case was a white Victorian one. The choice of teas were Earl Grey, and a bunch of fruit herbals. I wanted "tea" so Earl it was. Our server was brand new that day, and I asked for cream for my tea. Now of course you all know what happened and hubby has been going on and on about "why don't I ask for milk, not cream then?" I poured the cream in my tea and that's exactly what it was. And it curdled. I signaled another server and asked for some milk. She came back and said they didn't have any but could go out for some. Now that's a new one on me. But I knew they were busy so I said I could handle it black. I poured my second cup and by this time, it was very bitter. My hubby is going on about why do I drink tea if I don't like it? I don't like leaves being left in the pot. He has decided I'm a tea snob, because I'm picky how my tea is made. OK, enough about the tea. The food was great! I had a fresh salad with raspberry vinegrette. My scone was a cranberry and walnut wedge, still warm and yummy with the lemon curd and cream. A three tiered server came with a scoop of salmon mousse topped with alfalfa sprouts to be spread on toast points. There were thick round slices of cucumber topped with a spot of creamed tuna?, and alfalfa sprouts. There were two mini quiches (store bought). My sandwich was four squares of egg salad with capers. I picked out the capers. Dessert was a choice of a tart, either strawberry, blueberry or lemon, put on top of vanilla pudding in the crust. Or, bread pudding topped with vanilla/brandy sauce, which I chose. I had to take the dessert and a scone home with me because I was so full. So I something for tea the next morning in our cabin. The Queen Tea was $16.95. Hubby liked his Shepherds Pie but it was too small for him.
Open Tue-Sat 11am-3pm by reservation/ Sunday & Monday for private parties. ******************************************************
The Tea House
(New Location) 49239 Golden Oak Loop, Oakhurst, CA 93644.
I also discovered a second tea room, The Tea House, the next day but didn't have time for tea, or room because we had just had lunch. Half of it is a gift shop with lots of tea items and cups (yes, I bought one). The other half is the tea room. It's larger and can accomodate a lot of people. Her menu is a combination lunch and tea, so she can get more than just the tea crowd. Her Forget Me Not tea/$9.95, includes a sandwich of your choice (egg salad, chicken tarragon, Black Forest Ham & swiss , or cucumber cream cheese with dill. Scone with cream/curd and Wild Maine Blueberry jam. Comes with dessert but no description of them. Daffodil Tea/$11.95, Cucumber cream cheese & dill sandwich, breaded mozzarella, jalapeno & cheddar potato puff, scone, curd, wild boysenberry jam. Dessert. Tulip Tea/$10.95, turkey & alpine lace cheese sandwich, two small crab cakes, crumpet with cream and sugar plum jam. Dessert. Wild Flower Tea/$13.95, Choice of sandwich, small quiche, mushroom turnover, spinach puff, scone with cream/curd, and raspberry peach champagne jam. Dessert. Open every day 11am-4pm, until 3pm on Sunday/Monday
****The British Rose Tearoom
31876 Del Obispo St, San Juan Capistrano, CA
The tearoom sadly closed Oct 2003, but it's still a English tea shop.**
The Vintage Tea Leaf
969 E. Broadway, Long Beach, CA 562-435-5589
Aug,'03, Karen and I met up with Lauren on Sunday, in Long Beach, for tea at her favorite tearoom, The Vintage Tea Leaf. It has s a dark, rich maroon decor, very cozy, and very inviting to both men and women. Lauren is a regular there, so Beverly, the owner, was very friendly to all of us. They have a wall of teas to choose from, each in these tall beautiful silver jars. Lauren choose Canadian breakfast as our first tea. We walked to a shelf-lined wall filled with tea cups to choose our own. I pounced on a Shelley, pale blue with yellow flowers, an older pattern. I was amazed that this was set out for customers to use. I saw a couple cups with cracks. A few times I even threatened to put it in my purse. :) They have a wall of hats to pick and wear also. Even the restroom was delightfully decorated, with Victorian decals on the standard metal paper towel dispensers to cover them up. Our server, Nicholas, sounded veddy proper, and served our tea, pouring our cream and sugar. He treated us like queens. Our fresh blueberry scones came with real Devon cream and a tart lemon curd. Perfect for the strong breakfast tea. Our sandwiches, which came on a fan-shaped glass plate, were very flavorful. The one we all liked had an orange flavor, with mango chutney in the cream cheese. A very tasty Waldorf salad chicken, a cucumber with herbed cream cheese, and an egg salad filled us up just perfectly. Then we were brought a pot of 5 Star Darjeeling, my choice. We had that with our desserts, a rich fudgy brownie, and a lemon cheesecake. Lauren had a different choice for her meal, so I don't have that description. Karen and I had the tea for two, which was $20 apiece. It was chef's choice on the sandwiches, and as they had so many to choose from, I gave up.
Later as we were searching for goodies throughout the shop, I once again mentioned my beautiful Shelley cup, and asked did she sell any of them. She said make me an offer. I offered a fair price, although not what it was really worth. To my surprise and delight, she accepted it. !!! My treasure of the day! This will be something I will always remember each time I bring out that tea cup.**Hours are Thurs-Mon, 11:30am-6pm*******
The Aubrey Rose Tearoom
8362 La Mesa Blvd, La Mesa, CA, 619-461-4823
***Jan, 2004*** This is a new tearoom that just opened this year. I peeked in the windows for two months, anticipating a wonderful experience. The shop was full of large antique-looking pieces of furniture, with cosy little sitting areas. I went my first time with Karen, and fell in love with the place. Lorna, the owner, has collected all her furniture for years, in hopes of using them in just such a place. Each seating area is set up for private little groups, like small rooms. Beautiful lace tablecloths and flowers dress each table. We were served the Aubrey Rose House Blend, and ordered the Lady Anne Tea, at $18.95. The sandwiches were delicious, and even more so, the desserts. Our teacups were kept full, and the servers were happy to talk tea with us. Lorna was busy in the kitchen, but came out a few times to chat. This place is worth coming back to, again and again.
***Feb, 2004***Our San Diego Tea Society came to this tearoom, as our first get-together at a tearoom. It was really nice that Lorna and the waitresses all remembered mine and Karen's names. We all spent about 20 minutes wandering the shop, picking hats to wear, and generally settling in. We were seated in the back, using three tables, but still within chat range. A lovely English mural is painted on the wall, with sheep wandering the dirt roads. We were brought pots of the Aubrey Rose House Blend, and another pot of chocolate-mint, which was quite tasty, to pass around. Our huge three-tiered serving tray was brought with sandwiches, fruits, and dessert, and the scones were brought later. Lorna's husband makes their lemon curd, a very tart, lemony-tasting one. A couple of the treats really caught my attention because of the taste, and ease of making it. A mini tart was served with a dab of Brie cheese melted in the bottom. That's it. But it was so tasty. Sandwiches were a finely ground chicken with dried cranberries and walnuts, in mini croissants, that everyone raved about, and finely ground egg salad with a spice in it, that I was raving about. We also had cucumber with a little less cream cheese this time. There was a tray of fruit, and for desserts, a square of Baklava, a tiny cinnamon, bread pudding popover YUM!, and petite fours. Scones were their house scone, dried cherries, with a pink ? glaze on top. Unfortunately the lemon curd overpowered the scone taste. And we got to try a piece of their homemade shortbread, which was very good. The ladies thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and promised all to come back. Each time I've arrived, by myself or with friends, Dave, Lorna's husband, greeted me warmly when I came in. This is something they try to do for each guest.
The shop is open Wed-Sun, 11am-5pm. Reservations are a must, as the Aubrey Rose has been "discovered" by all the tea lovers. The shop is located in the antique district of La Mesa Blvd, off Spring Street, and you can spend a couple hours going thru all of them. And just down the street is All Things Bright & British, a tea store, where all things UK can be purchased.
March 2005**At the end of Aubrey Rose's first year, they have become one of the most popular tearooms in San Diego. And the food continues to be good.
Tearooms in Williamsburg, VA
758 West 22nd St, Norfolk, VA 800-627-8699
****April '04***While on vacation, I had a chance to go to this well- publicized tearoom. I remember reading an article about it in Southern Lady magazine, and seeing her ads. Rowena's has a wonderful idea for this tearoom. She makes gourment jams, jellies, conserves, and delicious poundcakes to sell in her giftshop, and you get to try them in your afternoon tea. Then you get to buy them! The cranberry nut conserve served on a thin sliced turkey sandwich was so good, I had to buy three jars. The chicken salad with carrot jam blended in was also delicious.
The ladies serving me at Rowena's were very gracious, and I just loved listening to those Southern accents. I thoroughly enjoyed my tea there. ***http://www.rowenas.com***
>Taste Tea Salon
1915 Pocahontas Trail, Williamsburg,VA 757-221-9550
****April '04****Again I was able to visit a tearoom that was on my wish-list. I had read about this tearoom right after it opened, and hoped it would still be there when I finally returned to Williamsburg. Walking into this cool, calm tearoom, in the middle of a very hot day, brought my body temperature down right away. Soothing soft colors are everywhere. Each table is set with it's own china or stoneware pattern, and everything follows it color theme. The sisters who own it, Diana and Cherri, once they had a minute, kept coming by my table to talk to me. My tea started with a delicious potatoe and corn chowder. Tea was steeped in a clear glass teapot with a strainer built in the top that lifts out, so you can see the color of the tea. Teacups are also clear glass. The tiered serving plate was full of little "tastes" of different sandwiches. My favorite was the crab salad on a cracker. Desserts were harder to decide which was the best, the creme brulee, the chocolate mousse cup, or the strawberry cheesecake made from a family recipe. Everything was delicious. I never thought to ask where the name Taste came from. Now I know. It's from all the wonderful tastes you get to try. This one is a keeper, to go back to, next time I go there on vacation.
Tea Upon Chatsworth
2180 Chatsworth Blvd, Ste B, San Diego, CA
****Jan 2005*** The Chatsworth Tearoom opened this past December and has already been getting raves. It's located in the Point Loma area of San Diego, off Nimitz Blvd. It's on the corner with a long window on one side of the street to watch the world go by as you sip your tea. The owner, Joy, wanted to create a little bit of England in her tearoom, and has decorated it with her own personal collections. The table settings are an eclectic mix of china, and still are color coordinated. Sweet little vases of flowers are set on each table. I stopped in once and asked for a Cream Tea. She put two triangle scones in her oven, one of those convection ones, and made me a small pot of Harney & Sons Indian Chai, one she suggested. It was served with pieces of watermelon, kiwi, and orange slices. The price is $9.50. The chai was very good.The scone was crisp outside, and fluffy inside. She likes them plain so you can taste her homemade rose petal jam and cream. Very nice flavor. Everything is made fresh that day, and Joy is a gourmet cook, so each time you visit, it will be a surprise and a treat. The entire menu changes frequently so it's worth coming back to again and again. Chatsworth is still fairly new on the radar but as soon as the word starts to spread, we will once again have to compete with other tea lovers to get a reservation at this tearoom. Weekdays are still the best chance to come in any time. Hours are Wed-Sun, 11am-5pm.
Tearooms in Florida
Sherlock's of Celebration
715 Bloom St, Ste 130, Celebration, FL
****April 2005** I visited this tearoom while on vacation in Orlando. It's about 25 minutes south of Orlando, and in a beautiful little town designed by Disney, with pastel-colored homes, no fences between them (I know, that's a CA thing), many facing a town green, or a river. Sherlock's is owned by a former British bobbie, who collects anything Sherlockian. He had a full Sherlock Holmes costume in back too, and some memorabilia for sale. It has both inside and outside seating in a enclosed courtyard, where I sat, looking over the small harbor square. Because of some health dept rules, they aren't able to make sandwiches but can bake anything. I was served some swan cheese puffs and mini spinach turnovers, both delicious. The tea is all Harney & Sons, and I chose Earl Grey Supreme, served loose in a pot. The scones, a large raisin and an orange cranberry, were so moist and hot, they fell apart in my fingers. Desserts were tiny squares of two different chocolate cakes, and a carrot cake. This tea costs $15.50. Afterwards I talked to the ladies in the kitchen (slow day on Tues, so they were very social). They asked me on a scale of 1-10, how would I rate them? Talk about being put on the spot! I said I would give it an 8, because of the quality and freshness of the food, but that I like more savories than sweets. That's when they told me about the health dept problem. All I could figure is they didn't or couldn't have a refrigerator in their very small kitchen that could hold all the supplies for making sandwiches. We weren't able to get into it more because of customers coming in. They told me about Disney designing the town, when I mentioned how much I admired it. The downtown reminded me of Main Street in Disneyland. Hours are Mon-Thur 8:30am-9pm/Fri 8:30am-10pm/Sat 10am-10pm/Sun 10am-9pm.
>Rose Cottage Inn & Tearoom
1301 Park Ave, Sanford, FL
****April 2005***Rose Cottage Inn, http://www.rosecottageinn.com is a B&B, in Sanford, is about 45 minutes north of Orlando. It's a sleepy little town east of Mt Dora. I got to sit and wait as a train tooted it's way down the street. A side of the inn has been converted to make the tearoom/dining room. It is run by Sica, a Romanian lady, and by Michael, a British gentleman. She does the extraordinary cooking. I decided to have the full High Tea *grin* so I could have a bowl of her Italian Wedding soup. Oh man! I've got to make some of this! It was served with hot focaccia bread. Sandwiches were nothing fancy, a tuna salad, egg salad, chicken salad, and cucumber w/cream cheese. The scones were orange walnut, and they sell the mix but they were a little on the dry side so I didn't buy any. But I imagine they could be made moister, as they were quite tasty. It was served with strawberry jam and lots of cream, along with some fresh fruit slices. This native Californian got to try fresh mango for the first time, and I can see why they call it velvety. It was sweet and delicious. The tea I chose was an Earl Grey, served loose in the pot. They also had a variety of Republic of Tea blends. Desserts were pieces of a mini cheese cake, apricot coffee cake, a lemon bar, and a dense chocolate cake. This tea cost $17.95. The room is beautifully decorated and very relaxing.
There was a small antique shop adjoining the tearoom, and I spent the half hour before my tea wandering thru her beautiful shop. There were lots of teacups and tea tools, and lots of vintage 40s and 50s hats and purses. While I was having tea, and talking with the other guests, one lady told me about their downtown historic Riverwalk, with all it's restaurants and antique malls. It was about 6 blocks away so I headed there after tea. It was nice and quiet, again in the middle of the week. No tourists, besides me, running around yet. This was a nice way to spend the day. Hours are Tues-Sat 11:00am-3pm
Paris in a Cup
119 S Glassell St, Orange CA 92866
I've visited this tearoom a couple times already, and can hardly wait to go back again. It's situated in Old Town Orange, surrounded by a collection of antique shops, malls, and bistros. The tearoom is run by Cheryl, the owner of a previous tearoom down the street, Someplace in Time, which had to close when the lease was up. It made many people happy when she reopened. And what a tearoom, ooh lala! It's tres elegante. They recreated the beautiful tea salons of Paris, with murals of the Eiffel Tower, and framed photographs of scenes of Paris all over. The food served is very elegant itself, and the chef has surpassed herself every time I've visited. I fell in love with a tea I had called LaFrance, and kept taking some home with me. The last time they were now carrying their own label of a similar tea, Parfume de France (Flavors of France), and the vanilla-fruityness of it is heavenly. Make sure you try it.
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