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Afternoon tea ideas =)

Sooo Ive checked out a few threads on this and was wondering if I had to choose between this list, what fellow chowhounders would suggest...

Looking for somewhere with a nice ambience, good service and delicious tea and food items above all =)

Price is open for me and I'm in the West LA area but can travel to Pasadena, etc...as I seem to hear lots of great tea houses in that area...

Can some of you shed some light on recent experiences at any of these: price, food--what they had, how the tea was and the hours perhaps?

Also--I know some afternoon teas do a buffet style which is fine with me too as long as there is variety and the food is very good =)

(trying to avoid the Ritz since we have that in DC too and I know theyre not all the same but yah...)

---The Raymond in Pasadena
---Peninsula Hotel
---Scarlett Tea Room
---Rose Tree Cottage
---Huntington Museum
---Chado Tea Room

And this is just for my bf and myself =)

Thanks so much!!!

I appreciate any other suggestions too!!!

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  1. You have selected great locations for your afternoon tea! I just am not sure if your "bf" will appreciate TEA Time as much as yourself :)

    1. In Santa Monica, Tudor House on 2nd and King's Head on Santa Monica Blvd. are both pretty good. Tudor House is more authentic.

      Huntington Museum requires reservation. I enjoyed it, but unless you also want to check out the gardens and / or the library the expense and hassle seem excessive.

      1. If you're going with your b/f - Scarlet Tea Room & Chado are probably better bets; they are less "feminine" than the others.

        I personally wasn't too thrilled on the Huntington Museum - the food was alright but it was very crowded with lots of raucous.

        Another I'd add to the list is Tea Rose Garden in Pasadena, good selection of teas, scones & sandwiches. Ask to be seated in their outdoor "garden" if possible.

        ~H.C. (I've blogged before about Scarlet Tea Room, in case you're wondering)

        1. My favorite is the Huntington, though I admit the food is good but not fantastic. However, the stroll through the gardens before and after and looking through the window into the rose or herb gardens makes it my tea of choice.
          Serves I think from 11 til 3:30 (gardens close at 4). $15 entry to the gardens in addition to the (around) $20 tea...so make it a day trip not just a tea trip. And a bf willing to do tea AND a leisurely garden stroll is a keeper IMO.

          1. I was at the Huntington and Rose Tree Cottage both recently.

            The Huntington does require advance reservation (sometimes way advance reservation) and it does require entrance to the gardens as well (which are lovely and well worth the trip themselves). No choice of tea, and this most recent trip, some of the food on the buffet had been nearly frozen from being set too close to the jets on the table. I've been there before and enjoyed it, but I did not appreciate have to let my sandwiches defrost.

            Rose Tree Cottage is *very* British. They homemake much of their food, so for example, their scones are lovely. Also, no choice of tea. I have to say that it is one of the most peaceful tea rooms I've been to in Los Angeles. They don't take credit cards, and they can be rather pricey for what they serve but it is the closest to what I experienced when I lived in England.

            I took my grandmother to the Peninsula for tea last Christmas. Very much the high-end afternoon tea, and it's very nice but expensive. They offer a choice of tea. I'm afraid I don't remember the food because some kind of shower was going on at the time, and they were rather noisy. My brother who was with us at the time found it one of the less welcoming rooms for men. We'll probably try to go back at a more peaceful time.

            Not on your list, but I also recommend the Pacific Dining Car for tea. Not a classic tea room, but their tea and food is actually quite good. Their prices are well in line with many of the tea services, and they don't require servations and it's usually very peaceful in the room.

            4 Replies
            1. re: sidwich

              It could be worth noting that Rose Tree Cottage is the only tea room I've been to where the cup of tea is truly bottomless. I appreciate that because 2-3 cups just isn't enough if you're lingering. And it's good, strong black tea. The gentleman proprietor is very quick with refills; seriously, I floated out of there and was up all night. (My own fault, naturally.) Very, very good scones.

              The Huntington tea is buffet-style, a bit of a departure and not for every taste.

              1. re: sidwich

                Rose Tree Cottage lost out when a friend was looking to make reservations for tea. They told her that at least one of the party had to have had tea there before "to make sure that you like it".

                I've taken to calling it "the Masonic Tea Room" -- to be one, see one.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  That's odd. We had never been there before, either, and were told no such thing. We've since been back twice.

                  1. re: katydid13

                    Apparently it's something about large parties. Still... how odd.

              2. I haven't been to any of the above, except peeped in the one at Huntington gardens (we got goodies from the cafe next door and the scones were pretty dry, but then they were cold, so *shrug*). I have been to Paddington's Tea Room though http://www.paddingtonstearoom.com Their house tea is wonderful, service excellent and scones are baked fresh and out of this world. Tea sandwiches are pretty decent, as are the two starters. The sweets at the end are ok - not particularly scrumptious. Or maybe just that chocolate dipped strawberries always disappoint me taste-wise, regardless of venue. They usually have madeleines, chewy coconut macaroons (good) and chocolate dipped strawberries. I don't remember having tea scented truffles as they claim on their afternoon tea menu. But I've only been twice and might have just forgotten. The decor is kinda old and too busy, too much lace, the silverware worn.
                Bottom line is I would recommend this place for their tea, great service and scones. Call a few days in advance as they may take a day or so to get back to you.

                7 Replies
                1. re: sweetTooth

                  Thanks, sweetTooth. Lately, I've developed an addiction to scones and I see that you can get them to go at Paddington's for $2.50. I doubt I would go to Paddington's for tea because (1) the decor doesn't sound like my aesthetic; and (2) I am skeptical about any tea place because I buy and brew really high-end tea at home and I have never gotten anywhere near the same quality of tea at a tea room in L.A. as I get in my own kitchen. But I'm not a baker, so Paddington's scones with my own tea at home sounds divine.

                  1. re: omotosando

                    The BEST scones I have ever had, aside from my own and my mom's, were from Leda's Bake shop.

                    Serve those with your own tea. My favorite is the ginger scones!

                    1. re: Diana

                      Thanks Diana, I will check them out. I did have Clementine's scones recently and was pretty happy. In general I believe scones should be eaten warm from the oven, but if I had to eat them cold, I'd pick Clementine's.

                      1. re: sweetTooth

                        SweetTooth I was wondering how you rate Clementine's scones versus Paddington's. I live quite near Clementine's. I have never been impressed with their baked goods, but I have not tried their scones.

                        1. re: omotosando

                          Hmm.. it is a difficult comparison since I've had Paddington's fresh and warm and Clementine's cold. Clementine's was huge and flatter - like a stack of 2 jumbo cookies. Paddington's was a more reasonable size and thicker - say a stack of 3 normal cookies. My guess is that extra thickness will contribute to more moistness, once cold. But that is pure speculation. Since you're close to Clementine and they don't charge an arm and a leg, I'd say give their scone a shot. I had the strawberry one. Oh, and I think it had sugar sprinkled on top, whereas Paddington's did not. Also, I agree that some baked goods at C's can be unimpressive, I think they do others quite well. For example, I love their Moravian sugar bread but the little buns with plum filling were pretty bland. I do loooove their lentil salad!

                    2. re: omotosando

                      Omotosando, happy to help. Please do report back on how Paddington's scones-to-go turn out. I've only had them with a high tea, where you call and make a reservation in advance and so the scones you get are baked just for you and still warm and moist inside. $2.50 is a great price to try them at!

                    3. re: sweetTooth

                      I just remembered that Clementine also offers afternoon tea - some days a week I think - and so does Jin patisserie on Abbot Kinney. I haven't tried the afternoon tea at either, but both places offer darned good baked goodies. The atmosphere at Jin can be pretty nice and they do brew a nice cup of tea. Haven't had tea at all at Clementine and the atmosphere is very coffee-house ish.

                    4. Chado Tea room is fantastic, expecially if your wanting to purchase loose-leaf teas for home. A wonderful selection, and the staff there is gracious and knowledgable. I stop in as often as possible, when in town.

                      They make a GREAT scone, my one contention is that they serve it with sweetened whipped cream and strawberry jam. I'd rather have clotted cream, if given the chance- but that's just me. The sweet whipped cream gets a bit cloying and overly-rich, to me at least.

                      If you want, I can reccommend the teas I personally love there. This is also a very gender-neutral shop that men i've had join me (husband and male friend) didn't feel uncomfortable at. Plus, Pasadena has lots of fun shopping to be had, on Colorado Blvd, for after-tea exploring.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Honeychan

                        On a related topic - does anyone know where to purchase fresh (not packaged) crumpets in L.A.?

                        1. re: flowergirl

                          You might try the Tudor House in Santa Monica. They have a bakery.

                          1. re: katydid13

                            Huntington Garden. The new Chinese garden just opened and it's great as are all the other gardens. I go with my family spur of the moment, wife and 3 kids, and we never have a problem walking in to the tea room. However reservations are a good idea if that's your goal. The food is just fine and you do get a choice of teas. In addition for a guy a normal tea just doesn't cut it quantity wise so the Huntington is great. Prices just went up I think it is now $25.00

                            1. re: katydid13

                              i love the tudor house for all things to remind me of home. if you do go there, do yourself a favor and buy custard tarts too.

                              in addition, king's road cafe has em... betcha could buy a few

                              1. re: katydid13

                                Pretty sure I haven't seen loose crumpets any time we went to Tudor House. Should call ahead.

                          2. I thought that the tea at the Peninsula was a little overhyped. It was overpriced and service was decent.

                            I really like the Huntington but only go once in a blue moon as it is hard to get reservations on the free admission day (first Thursday of every month I believe). And now they have a ticket systemin place so you have to secure tickets, too. I think the lines open two months in advance.

                            I wasn't that impressed with Chado. The food was decent and service was a little sub-par. Ho-hum atmosphere.

                            if you're willing to travel far, i'd suggest Tea Upon Chatsworth in Loma Point. Or there's Jin Patisserie in Venice Beach although they don't offer you anything on a spectacular three-tiered presentation. Excellent cakes, though, and a charming atmosphere.

                            Jin Patisserie
                            1202 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                            Tea Upon Chatsworth
                            2180 Chatsworth Blvd, San Diego, CA 92107

                            1. Has anyone ever been to the Four Seasons Tea Room in Sierra Madre? It's on Baldwin, above Sierra Madre Blvd. It looks nice.

                              1. I go to the Chado Tea Room alot. It's not fancy and proper, but I really like the chill vibe it has and locals frequent it; it's never touristy.

                                The Huntington Museum might be kind of touristy and serious compared to Chado Tea Room.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: 48pinups

                                  I thought Chado's tea is a lot fancier than Huntington. It's served in a proper 3 tier tray, versus buffet. The thing though is Chado's sandwich filling is a bit more noveau than traditional, and I didn't find some of the flavor combo to work. I like their vast selection of tea though.

                                  For me, the big reason one go and pay a good chunk of change for essentially tea and basic starch is the setting (daintiness of sandwiches, and pastry on nice china) and services. Otherwise you may as well buy nice mini pastries from a local bakery, cut up some crustless sandwiches from one of the asian bakeries and do it at home.