721 Lincoln Way, (@ 9th Ave) SF, CA website| 415.566.8834 |
My friend Cherie loves to go out for Afternoon Tea and often organizes these outings to coincide with those big sports days where certain individuals like to sit on the couch watching men run around throwing things and chasing each other. She made reservations for fifteen women at this very frilly froufrou establishment that is literally across the street from Golden Gate Park. Be warned that the competition for parking is fierce because of the many coffee shops and restaurants in the area. It’s a small single room with high ceilings and full of silk flowers and knick knacks which gives the impression that you’re hanging out in a dowdy old lady’s parlor.
The Duchess of Bedford is credited to have begun the tradition of afternoon tea as she liked to have a tray of tea with bread and butter served to her in the mid-afternoon. This was in the 18th century, when dinner was not eaten until late in the evening. The Duchess, a woman after my own heart, found herself hungry during those long afternoon hours and she began to invite other ladies to join her and over time these meals became more elaborate. Along with tea, there would be small pastries with clotted cream or preserves, delicate sandwiches, and scones.
Everyone got their own pot of tea and I ordered a rooibos tea infused with lavender. This was a very unfortunate choice because it was like drinking something that I’d like to soak my feet in. Sigh… I should have gone with a nice plain black tea, like my neighbor Pinky who had a lovely Irish breakfast tea that was delicious with milk and sugar. Her sister had a coconut flavored tea that was also very good – she very kindly poured me a cup.
In honor of the duchess, I ordered The Bedford’s Delight ($19.95), which included a scone that was supposed to come with Double Devon Cream, but didn’t, butter and preserves, six tea sandwiches and an assortment of mini tea pastries. They arrived on a three tier serving tray jammed with enough to feed four.
In my mind, I find the idea of delicate sandwiches made with soft white bread with the crusts cut off cut into little triangles very appealing. These were very bland and the bread seemed kind of gummy. It compacted when I bit in and stuck to my teeth…
The sandwiches all shared the same gummy quality except for two that were served on a baguette slice. I wasn’t a fan of some of the combinations either which included: Cucumber Mint & Honey, Ham & Apple, Apple & Cheese. The ingredients were bland and uninteresting, and some of the sandwiches had a single paper thin layer of dreadful processed meat. I thought the Curry Egg & Cucumber was decent, and I would have liked the Pesto with Tomato if the tomato had not been mealy and soggy… Here’s a turkey curry with raisins and mayonnaise on dry baguette. It was all right.
Now that I’ve done complaining about the sandwiches, (but then you already know that I am a sandwich nazi) I loved the sweets.
Yes the pastries were well made and fresh tasting. The scones were pretty good, but would have been improved with the devon cream and lemon curds as they seemed a little dry. I absolutely loved the little cream puffs that were filled with the most delicious rich gooey raspberry cream. I would go back for this little morsel alone!
And this tiny little chocolate eclair was thoroughly enjoyable.
This is the Earl’s Favorite ($17.95), which had six sandwiches, a fruit toast, one crumpet with butter and jam, and a small fresh fruit salad. For a mere $2 less, you don’t get the fabulous tiny tea pastries, but I guess if you want lighter fare, this would be a good choice.
The fruit toast looked very interesting and that’s the crumpet on the left, which she left untouched…
And then poor Marilyn sitting next to me, ordered the Garden Escape ($14.95) which on the menu said: A tasty assortment bite size snacks, hot off the oven Savories and freshly made Canapes. This is what she got… for $15. I suppose that includes a pot of tea, but for just $4 less than the bedford delight, you really don’t get much.
There was a table of guys in t-shirts and jeans in the middle of all that girl power, they seemed to be regulars and had a smoked salmon platter and some vegetable plates that looked way better than the sad sandwiches. The next table over was full of adorable little girls all gussied up in dresses and their hair in ringlets. We sat for quite a while afterwards and they refilled teapots on request, so that we could gossip, reminisce and get caught up on each other’s lives.
The din can become deafening once everyone is properly amped up on sugar and caffeine! At one point it sounded like the room was filled with flocks of birds…
Tyme for Tea, a recommended east bay alternative
p.s. I was confused and showed up an hour and a half early, so I walked over to Golden Gate Park where I tried to visit the Academy of Science but left because the crowds made me feel claustrophobic. I ended up wandering around in the Japanese Tea Garden.
I love the gardens and thought about stopping at the tea house, but decided it wasn’t a good idea to have tea before tea…
It was a beautiful sunny spring day