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Recent High Tea Reviews in SF?

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Hello,

I'm planning on going to high tea with a few girlfriends in the next month and am hoping some of you might have recent reviews. I've only been to the one at the Ritz and thought it was great. Pricey, but worth the splurge for the occasion and quality of food. This will be a special occasion. Unfortunately, high tea is not available there until the end of Feb, which will not work for us. Our second choice was The Palace, but we are going on a Sunday and tea is only available on Saturdays.

So, I'm thinking of maybe the Rotunda. I've heard mixed reviews. What do people think? I like the grand setting (from what I can tell, similar to the Ritz and Palace). How is the tea and food?

Other options are Lovejoy's, Crown & Crumpet or Samovar. These places look more affordable but not as grand either. After all, it's just tea and sandwiches so if we're going to pay for that, we'd rather it be high quality and special.

Thanks.

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Crown & Crumpet
900 North Point Street, San Francisco, CA

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  1. The Fairmont's Laurel Court has afternoon tea.. I haven't tried it yet though. It's quite a grand room.

    I enjoyed Crown & Crumpet (good food, friendly servers), but it is a bit pink & frilly for me.... Samovar is not a traditional english style afternoon tea.

    The Palace is a grand room, but it's a bit worn out...the food, tea and our server was great. The rest of it.. was okay.

    Lovejoy's gets very good reviews from my afternoon tea groups, but I haven't been there yet.

    My favorite in the city so far is DarTealing Lounge on 3rd in SOMA. Not a grand room, it's a tiny unassuming space on the outside. But nice and welcoming inside...and the food is really good.

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    Crown & Crumpet
    900 North Point Street, San Francisco, CA

    Dartealing Lounge
    470 Third St., San Francisco, CA

    4 Replies
    1. re: gnomatic

      I went to DarTealing a few weeks ago and was rather unimpressed. The service was really lacking - the tea was cold and flavorless, and when I asked for slightly warmer water the server argued with me, saying that it was meant to be served that way. When they brought out the sweets tray, they told us that there would be marmalade coming, but twenty minutes later there was nothing and we couldn't flag down a server at all - even though it looked like there were 3 or 4 waitstaff floating around in the back room. The sandwiches were ok - the bread tasted like regular wonder bread, but the fillings were good. The desserts were ok, but nothing special. It's a cute room. Overall, I'd probably lean in favor of Lovejoys. Or Tal Y Tara which is definitely not grand, but is really nice in the garden out back and has a fantastic motorloaf sandwich. But both Tal y Tara and Lovejoys aren't really the fantastic hotel teas that it sounds like the OP is hoping for.

      1. re: Pandora

        I agree about DarTealing. The service was hopeless and took forever. And the teas were awfully flowery.

        Tal y Tara is wonderful, especially when you can sit out on the patio. Lovejoy's is always full of wedding and baby showers--way too much Laura Ashley and squealing for my taste.

        1. re: Windy

          Sorry to hear DarTealing service went down hill, I went there with a small group last spring, we pre-ordered our selection. Everything was quite fresh, and delicious. My two afternoon meetup groups went around the same time and had similar positive experiences.

          Tal y Tara & Samovar both had offers on one of the social shopping sites (i.e. Living Social, Groupon)...worth keeping an eye out for if anyone is interested in trying them out.
          Leland Tea Company in Nob Hill has Tea Service, they have a small back area for groups. It's a very casual atmosphere though, but at least not too frilly.

          It seems SF have more tea room type places than hotels for afternoon tea. Actually, it's strange, but almost every afternoon tea I have been to in SF...the places had one (or multiple) baby/wedding shower going on. I don't recall seeing that in the UK, NYC or Hong Kong...

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          Leland Tea Company
          1416 Bush St, San Francisco, CA

        2. re: Pandora

          I really liked the motorloaf sandwichs at Tal y Tara...sometimes for me (male) English tea places are all about the frills and not enough food to feel full! ..and the garden is very nice....

      2. I had tea with some girlfriends at the Fairmont last year and it was lovely, and the setting was nice, though not as pretty as either the Ritz or the Palace. I've also had tea at Lovejoy's and Crown & Crumpet, and both are nice and fun with good food but much more casual, and don't have the fancy setting and the ornate teapots, etc. And Lovejoy's tea sandwiches, though good, are non traditional for a fancy tea, so that may not be what you're looking for.

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        Crown & Crumpet
        900 North Point Street, San Francisco, CA

        1. I'm a fan of Lovejoy's. Lovely funky English setting, great house blend (and many other kinds of) tea, attentive service, food served in tiered trays--delicious sandwiches, great scones w/ jam and devon cream, a little salad, shortbread. It's not formal like the Ritz--but trad like...a proper English tea-room!

          Samovar is very nice--but much more fusion-ish, zen, tea-fetish-izing. I love to go there, but it's completely different from what I, at least, envision in a high tea.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sundeck sue

            2nd

          2. I'm just going to throw the Tal-Y-Tara Tea & Polo Shoppe into the mix. It's definitely casual, more in the style of tea in a country cottage than tea at the Ritz. They have a lovely selection of tea, tea sandwiches as well as a menu of heartier items. Cute place, but not as grand as you're looking.

            1. By the way, what you want is "afternoon tea", not "high tea" which is an older term from North England/Scotland for the evening meal. Common mistake. High tea sounds posh, but definitely is not.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Joan Kureczka

                Thanks for all the suggestions, as well as the "tea" education. That's why I love this site. I'll let you know where we end up and how it goes.

              2. I had tea at the Neiman Marcus rotunda around Christmas time. We enjoyed the view and the service was warm but not conspicuous. There were a number of teas to choose from - sorry I don't recall how many - mine was fine, I usually order something basic like English Breakfast. The savories were good (not fabulous) but the sweets were underwhelming (I am a sweet connoisseur!). Just an "okay" experience as far as food was concerned.

                2 Replies
                1. re: nanj

                  My friend ended up picking The Secret Garden Tea House in Inner Sunset. This was not really on my list but she wanted to go and it turned out better than I expected. I was hesitant because the pictures online made it look kind of creepy-girly with all the flower wall paper and decor. Luckily both the food and tea were descent and it was around $20 per person. I'm not a big scone person but I found them to be really good. However, parking was a nightmare, but that's Inner Sunset for you on a weekend.

                  Next time we agreed to check out the Rotunda or the Fairmont.

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                  Secret Garden Tea House
                  721 Lincoln Way, San Francisco, CA 94122

                  1. re: calalilly

                    Thanks for reporting back!