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Nov 1, 2007 01:53 PM

Afternoon Tea Union Square Area

My mom and I will be shopping in the Union Square area next Friday. I was thinking of treating her to afternoon tea if there is a worthwhile one in the area. We are taking Bart in from the East Bay so I would like to stay in the general vicinity. Price is not a problem.

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    1. The Rotunda in Neiman Marcus is the first place that comes to mind. I used to enjoy tea at the King George Hotel on Mason street, one block down Geary away from Union Square, but I haven't been in years. Other hotels serve tea, too, but are farther away.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Glencora

        I'll second the recommendation for the Rotunda - it's not necessarily the best tea service overall but the service and sides (chicken consomme starter and yummy popovers) plus location and views make it one of the nicest tea experiences around.

      2. Without a doubt, The Palace Hotel!

        1. The Sir Francis Drake Hotel has a nice formal afternoon tea service.

          For something less formal, and if it's a sunny day, you can go down to Yerba Buena Gardens and have tea at Samovar Tea Lounge. The tea and food is just OK but the view is great.

          1. Here's my resource list of all the hotels that serve English style tea -- its a year old, I usually update it every November. I would NOT recommend the Ritz - its the most expensive, least amount of food, and poor service.

            High Tea v. Afternoon Tea - At the hotels, I think only the Windsor Tea room comes even close to serving high tea. If you want high tea, you need to go to Lovejoy's in Noe Valley. If you want afternoon tea, any of the hotels would be fine.

            BEST - "best" is very subjective so the afternoon tea I prefer may not be the ones that you prefer. While I judge an afternoon tea experience on many factors, the two most important are the quality of tea service and the scones. I like places that I can order additional scones or substitute the other crap for more scones. I like places that have timers so my tea doesn't over-steep. I like places that don't just advertize bottom-less pots of tea but back it up with SERVICE. Many places will curb a patron's consumption by disappearing (like the Ritz-for $41 are they really losing money if I have 3 pots of tea?!).

            I like the small scones at the Stanford. I like the comfy atmosphere of the Windsor. The Rotunda is a little too ladies-who-lunch but their food is nice. Laurel Court had lovely tea service last time I was there. The Garden Court is sooo "historic San Francisco" its just a marvelous place to dawdle but the food has gone downhill in recent years.

            Ritz Carlton
            600 Stockton St (@ California)(415) 296-7465
            Mon-Thurs 3:30-4:30 pm, Fri 2:30-4:30 pm, Sat-Sun 1-4:30pm
            Tea services ranging from: $29 - $41
            Famous for their children's Teddy Bear Christmas Tea. The Traditional Tea arrives on a tiered carousel with tea sandwiches, a scone with Devonshire Cream, lemon curd, and preserves, English Tea cakes, a fresh fruit tartlet, a Madeleine, a Florentine, and shortbread. Add a champagne cocktail, to the Traditional Tea for the Premier Tea, or add champagne, chocolate, and strawberries for the Royal Tea. A vegetarian option is also available.

            Garden Court (Sheraton Palace Hotel)
            2 New Montgomery St.
            Tues - Sat 2 - 4 pm
            Tea services ranging from $22 - $85
            Beautiful dining room in San Francisco with gilded marble columns, a leaded glass-dome ceiling, crystal chandeliers, and gold leaf sconces. A harpist provides soothing background music at tea time. The Garden Court Tea includes scones with thick cream, marmalade, honey and lemon curd, an assortment of pastries and fruit tarts, and tea sandwiches. For more $$, you can upgrade your tea with a glass of sparkling wine or champagne. You can order the Exclusive Tea for Two which includes the equivalent of two full tea services with a half-bottle of Pommery champagne instead of two glasses. Has children's Prince and Princess Tea option.

            Windsor Tea Room (The King George Hotel)
            334 Mason Street (@ Geary) (415) 781-5050 Sat - Sun 2-5 pm
            Tea services ranging from $8.50 - $18.00
            Very British experience with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth peering down from the wall. Their most elaborate tea service, the King George's tea includes a bottomless pot of tea, a scone with preserves and Double Devon Cream, a refreshing mixed green salad and a selection of two tea sandwiches. The tea concludes with a choice of tea cookies or a fresh fruit tart. For a service that more closely approximates an English High Tea, there's the Cheese and Fresh Fruit Platter.

            The Rotunda (Neiman-Marcus)
            150 Stockton Street (415) 362-4777
            Daily 2:30 - 5 pm
            Tea services ranging from $18.50 - $29.00
            The Rotunda is a circular restaurant under the NM glass dome and is a gorgeous setting. Full Tea includes a selection of finger sandwiches, flaky scones, petite cookies, tarts, and other house-made sweets. Add a glass of champagne for additional $. If you want one of the coveted booths overlooking the lower shopping levels and Union Square, call ahead for a reservation.

            Laurel Court (The Fairmont)
            950 Mason (@ California) (415) 772-5260 Mon - Sun 2:30 - 4:30 pm
            Tea services ranging from $32.00 - $57.00 for adults, $25.00 for children
            Laurel Court restaurant in the lobby the Fairmont. The standard tea starts with housemade scones served with lemon curd, Devonshire Cream and Sonoma preserves. This is followed by an array of finger sandwiches, a selection of French pastries, and a glass of Champagne. For additional $$, you can also upgrade your tea with caviar and a higher quality Champagne. An á la carte menu offers all the components of the complete tea service plus seasonal berries with Devonshire Cream and a selection of English tea biscuits. Sparkling wine, port, and sherry can also be ordered by the glass.

            Renaissance Stanford Court Hotel
            905 California St. (@ Powell) (415) 989-3500
            Daily 2:30 - 5 pm in the Lobby Lounge
            Tea service: $25.00 - $35.00
            Reservations required at least 24 hours in advance.
            The High Tea at the Stanford Court includes finger sandwiches, miniature scones with lemon curd, Devonshire Cream, and preserves, petit fours, a fruit tartlets, and assorted tea cookies. For an additional $$ you can add a glass of Mumm Cuvée champagne.

            3 Replies
            1. re: larochelle

              Thanks to all for the awesome suggestions. My mom is going to love this! I will report back.

              1. re: baseballfan

                Another possibility if you're up for a little (?) hike is Leland Tea Co., 1416 Bush between Polk and Geary around the corner from the Leland Hotel. Will is wonderful and his selections of teas makes this place special. This is not a "traditional" British tea room, but more of a 30/40's Paris Bistro/Cafe' feel with great sandwiches and it's hard to beat the prices: $21.95 for a Tea for Two which has four half sandwiches, house romaine salad, friut, two scones and two cookies. He makes all his own preserves and marmalades and bakes his scones fresh daily on site.

                1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

                  That sounds great! Thanks for adding something new to the list of usual suspects.

                  And thank everyone on this thread -- and especially the original poster -- for using the correct term "afternoon tea" instead of the widely mis-used "high tea"!