Tea w/ Mom
It's time for our annual Mother's Day tea, and we've done the rounds at all the gorgeous hotels in the area. We are deciding whether to do a repeat of a nice hotel, or to venture somewhere new. There are 4 ladies and 1 little girl.
We'd like something elegant, great service, delicious...and if they also serve champagne that would be perfect!
I've never been to Chado or Jin Patisserie...would either of those for the bill?
The Westside would be most convenient for us, but we could go as far as Pasadena so something really great.
BTW...we don't actually go on Mother's Day, to avoid the big rush, we'll go on another May weekend.
I'm not an expert on teas around here, but I can tell you that you want probably won't be found at Jin. Although most find the food, desserts, baked goods and chocolates to be very well prepared, some have been critical about the actual preparation and serving of the actual tea.
Aside from having one small table on the very small porch, the rest of the seating is out in front in a quasi-Zen garden that may or may not be to one's liking. There is no dining inside the actual building itself. I've always wondered why they haven't put up some kind of structure that would allow for a retractable awning of sorts but maybe there are building code issues...
The service can be good, but its consistancy is questionable as well, as it is a small place and there is only so many wait staff members.
The last I was there, no champagne. Very unique tea blends but no bubbly.
I truly like Jin, and would reccomend it to anyone who enjoys desserts and chocolates with a different twist. I would also reccomend it for a more casual lunch experience on a nice day. They do have lots of regulars - some of them British - who frequent this place because the quality is good and the al fresco atmosphere is nice on average. If you're in the Westside, just stop by - if you can find parking - and peek in through the gates. That's the dining area.
I wouldn't go to Jin either. The teas we had weren't very impressive, there's no bubbly, and it's outside which isn't conducive to sitting for a long time and talking unless the weather is perfect (not too hot, not too cold). Plus it's a tiny little garden with a dirt floor, and it's always so crowded you might feel rushed.
Jin is fun, beachy, and relaxing but I wouldn't call it elegant and there's definitely no especial grace to the service.
I don't think Chado serves champagne, at least not the one in Pasadena. It's nice, but not elegant in the way of say Ritz.
One of my friends just celebrated her pregnancy with a ladies tea at the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino. It's a lovely place to walk around and they have your typical afternoon tea as well. Being able to see the gardens and the other art they have on display makes the drive worthwhile. Happy Mother's Day! :)
It sounds like you may have done it already, but the afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hotel was very enjoyable. There's a harpist playing, the service is very good, and the petit fours are passable. They also serve Champagne. It's very relaxing, like an oasis from the city.
The tea at the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena was more chaotic, hence less relaxing. The snacks are self-serve, and I found them to be tastier than at the Peninsula. I don't think they serve Champagne, though.
I guess it depends what you prefer.
re: lil mikey
I was at the Peninsula about 3 years ago, and just loved it. However it wasn't all that recent, so I can't comment on the food at the present. The next year our group went to Casa Del Mar. It was nice too, but I liked the idea of sitting at the Peninsula on two comfy sofas and their vanilla pear tea was memorable.. This year we did tea at the Bel Air. It was good too, but I enjoyed the room more at the other two hotels. The food was tasty and plentiful, as was the Bel Air Tea blend. What about the 4 Seasons?
the tea at the 4seasons since donald wressel retired is not as good as it used to be. the peninsula is still better. after donald left, they stopped using devonshire cream.
chado nor jin fit your bill. one of the best teas in town is at the SCARLET TEA ROOM in pasadena. www.scarlettearoom.com. karen is a good hostess. reservations recommended.
don't go to the huntington for tea, go for the gardens. went to the ritz-carlton for tea at christmas...a joke, horrible service. too bad the regent no longer serves tea.
had a very decent tea for the $$$ at the biltmore downtown. beautiful setting.
i've tried to go to THE T ROOM in Montrose, but am never on the ball enough to make a reservation beforehand. i've tried to walk in, but they're always booked. www.the-t-room.com.
that really leaves the BEL-AIR and the PENINSULA. good luck!
I agree on Chado. Good food, but they serve in regular old coffee shop mugs. That kinda turned me off. Yeah, Huntington Gardens you also have to pay the $15 for admission, in addition to the cost of the tea (it is buffet style). My mom loves the Ritz Laguna Niguel(?) tea. Not sure if they serve champagne, tho and it is around $40. I have heard good things about Scarlett, but have not had the chance to go. Cannot wait for socal's review of the T Room. Too bad Rose Tree Cottage is not doing anything due to their impending move - this was my fave.
I see the tea at the Huntington Gardens as more of an additional feature to the garden tour. I've been to the gardens proabably at least 20 times, but have never done the tea as it digs into my time viewing the gardens, which can take all day if done thoroughly. It seems kind of wierd that they didn't set up the building to take advantage of the garden views. But then on second thought, my guess would be that one partaking in tea would feel like a fish in a bowl, with tourists staring in at them...
Well, not missing much by not having tea at the Huntington Gardens. I love the garden (used to be a member), but the tea there was very pedestrian.
No atmosphere, sandwiches are just placed haphazardly on the trays. Everything is buffet style. Not bad tasting, but part of an appeal for tea is the visual and the service.
I can do a better job foodwise at home. Easy enough to get all the cakes, scones from bakeries if I am lazy and make the sandwiches yourself.
I think if the OP wants pampering - nice prompt service, exquisite setting, and don't mind paying for the privileges, maybe better to stick with hotels.
The Tea Rose Garden in Pasadena is a nice place for mother/daughter tea time. When I used to work in Pasadena, I used to have (extended) lunch there all the time. I'm hoping someone can confirm that they're still there. Half of the place is a flower shop, and the other half is a place where you can have tea and sandwiches. My favorite was the Italian Rose sandwich paired with apricot tea. It's nothing elegant, but I think it's a nice cozy little place in case you feel like something different.
Have you tried Pentimento at LACMA? It is not very elegant since it is patio seating, but the tea offerings and service were quite good when I went recently. I'm not sure if they serve champagne...however, they probably do upon request.
I can't say I've been to a lot of off-beat tea rooms; my bi-annual high-tea experiences with Mom and Grandma typically stick to big hotels. However, below are my thoughts about the places I've been to with my family:
1) Ritz-Carlton (Pasadena): The atmosphere is very nice and elegant (although borders on frou-frou), and the hotel's location affords a chance to stroll down Pasadena's downtown area before or after the meal (depending on your tea time). Food is great (their strawberries and cream were heavenly), but service is spotty. At least, that's just my experience when I went for Mother's Day last year; we felt ignored a lot of the time and service was slow (I've had okay--not great--service at other events, i.e., wedding showers). Over all, there was just a lack of warmth from the staff (I got better vibes from the valet service). If you choose to go here, call early. They tend to book up quickly. I've never been to the Ritz in Marina del Rey (Do they have tea service, too?).
2) The Peninsula--I just went with my family for Christmas '06 (so farily recently) and loved the atmosphere (one of the best). It was elegant and very classy (not frou-frou in the least). The service was also EXCEPTIONAL. The staff was extremely attentive and accomodating. The food was good, but not as good as some (Ritz and Hotel Bel-Air were better, I think). However, I would definitely go back for the ambience and service. The harp (as another person noted) was an unusual touch.
3) Hotel Bel-Air: Probably one of the best experiences I've had (just a hair better than Peninsula). I'm eager to go back. We sat in the patio (so romantic) and the grounds were gorgeous (We took pictures by the swan lake--dorky, yes, but hey, why not?). The food was excellent (we loved the lemon curd and the scones), and the service was excellent. If you haven't been here yet, give it a try.
4) Beverly Hills Hotel: Don't bother. The room set aside for tea is horrible--right by the lobby and entrance to the hotel. It wasn't intimate at all. I think the food was okay, but it wasn't memoriable. However, it was nice touring the historic hotel while we were there.
5) Huntington Library and Gardens: I've been here a couple of times, but I wouldn't go back. I see it more as a starter tea place--somewhere you go for your first tea experience and then trade up. I seem to remember they have a buffet, rather than table service, which takes away from the experience, I think (am I snob?). However, some people may like this, since they can pick and choose the foods they enjoy (For example, I like the savory foods better than the sweets). You also have to pay admission to the library/garden to have tea at the restaurant, so if you're not interested in touring the place, it's just another added cost (but the grounds are beautiful during certain seasons). I don't remember how the food tasted or how good the service was. Over all, I just think it lacks the elegance and class of some of the other places, but not a bad choice.
I hope this helps. I'm also sad to hear (er, read) a somewhat critical review of the Four Seasons. I wanted to take my family there next.
I just went to the Huntington Library the first Thursday of this month. Let me tell you, its like going to Disneyland. SO crowded and almost no where to sit and enjoy the gardens. It took me ONE HOUR to get from the 210 fwy just to the main gate.