Okay, so I haven’t finished writing the previous post but I wanted to start this one so I don’t forget to write about it.
Last weekend, a group of us from the same small group gathered in SF for a bridal tea for our dear friend D who is getting married in a few weeks.
Update – it’s been a very BUSY few weeks as we hosted 2 groups of out of town guests. This past Saturday we took one group to the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building so hopefully I’ll get a chance to post about it.
But before that, I need to finish this one so I don’t forget everything!
In any case, so as I was saying, a group of us gathered on beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon (I love Indian summers in the Bay Area!) at Crown & Crumpet for our friend D’s bridal tea. I had heard of the tea salon before but found it hard to make it all the way up to city for a visit, especially since it’s located in a popular tourist area.
As it turns out, Ghirardelli Square is pretty accessible by both public transit and car. From BART, you can take a muni bus or street car that drops you off w/in a block or two of the salon. By car, you can get parking validation for nearby garages (for up to 1.5 hrs) for dining at many of the restaurants in the Square so definitely consider Crown & Crumpet if you’re looking for a place to have a special occasion celebration!
As soon as we were seated, the hostess handed out our shower favors which contained cute little tea related items (i.e. sugar packs called “Sugar Daddy”). I haven’t tried everything yet but I liked the Oolong tea biscuit that was included in the pack, which was by a famous Taiwanese cooking maker called “Isabel.” Besides shower favors, Crown & Crumpt can also provide other types of favors and parting gifts at additional cost (and costs vary).
Although the tea room is one large room and private parties are seated along with everyone else (except for the sofa area, which can be reserved for private parties) Crown & Crumpet also provides themed center pieces for the table which helps to set the mood for the celebration. This is a photo of the wedding cake centerpiece that was on our table.
In terms of the food, I found it to be pretty satisfactory but unfortunately still not comparable to what I’ve experienced in Paris or London.
For instance, rather than having special kinds of sugar (i.e. raw or even cubed sugar), what we got were regular white sugar placed in pretty jars with pretty floral candy pieces. I don’t normally put honey in my tea so I didn’t bother asking about honey but judging from the sugar selection, I’m guessing you’ll just get regular honey as well.
The tea sandwiches were tasty but I found execution to be somewhat “American,” – a bit too much filling for the amount of bread. Personally, I prefer a better balance between the two.
To my delight, however, the scones were light and flaky, and didn’t contain the heavy baking soda taste that are sometimes in American scones. The crumpets, however, were somewhat disappointing. My first/last taste of crumpets was at the Tea Palace in Notting Hill and they were like miniature English muffins that were perfect for soaking up honey. Crown & Crumpt’s version, on the other hand, were somewhat flat and not as porous (even though they looked that way). Maybe they were made in the morning dried out from being reheated? As many of the other girls had never tried crumpets before, I urged them to give it another chance (at another tea salon) before giving up on this delicious British treat!
Even though the sandwiches and scones were not big, by the time we finished them, most of us were too stuffed to tackle the sweets plate so we asked for take home containers and Crown & Crumpet was very nice to provide enough boxes and bags for all of us.
As for the tea, Crown & Crumpet carries their own private label teas and offers a large selection of both caffeinated and herbals types (they also provide children’s tea service) as well as some champagnes and alcoholic drinks. The only thing we didn’t find was coffee, which makes sense, I mean, why would you order coffee in a tea salon?
I’m not usually a big fan of infused fruit flavored teas so I opted to get a classic blend, Earl Grey, which I thought would also allow me to compare it to the Mariage Freres tea we drink at home. Sadly, Crown & Crumpet’s Earl Grey didn’t stand up to my gold standard but one of the girls’ Paris blend was pretty good (and reminded me of Mariage Freres’ Marco Polo) so I’d probably order that instead on my next visit.
I was so hopeful that this would be tasty…maybe next time it will be better?!
Overall, I would say that Crown & Crumpet is a great place to have afternoon tea. The decor is very Cath Kidston* and not at all lacey/doillie like some of the other tea places. It’s clear that the owners put a lot of love into the salon and all of their personal touches (displays, items for sale, etc.) will make each visit exciting. For those who prefer to have tea in a more minimalist setting, Crown & Crumpet also offers outside patio seating with simple wood furniture. Charlie likes tea and tea service and this is one place that we can definitely enjoy together.
That afternoon, we didn’t spend too much time exploring the whole Ghirardelli Square but it seems that the recent renovation has really jazzed up the place. Unfortunately, with baby#2 coming in January, it will probably be a while before I get to enjoy a another leisurely afternoon but I’ll know where to go (and who to go with) when the opportunity comes!
For more information and photos, visit Crown & Crumpet’s website.
*In fact, all of the Crown & Crumpet waitresses wear Cath Kidston aprons. When I asked about it, they said that the store adjacent to the salon usually carries some but that day they were sold out of everything except some stationary >_<
P.s. I had previously read comments about how tacky it is for Crown & Crumpet to have glass table top covers. Actually, they don’t look offensive at all in person. In fact, I think it’s very smart of them to use these covers to protect the Cath Kidston table clothes!