Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tal Y Tara Tea & Polo Shoppe

Finally we get to the Afternoon Tea! One inspiration for this blog is our love of a lazy afternoon tea experience. Tal Y Tara was going to be our first post for this blog, but we were hungry and ate the food before we got any pictures. So that was a bust, since we like adding photos to our posts. Of course we just needed an excuse to go back again.

This small store began selling Polo and horse supplies, but then segued into serving tea as more and more people began asking to get a cup of what the owners were drinking. We picked a day of Amazing weather and got to sit outside, in their nice garden patio area that would be lovely for hosting a party like a baby shower, bridal shower or just an afternoon get together with friends! J.K. doesn't usually like sitting outside in windy San Francisco. (She claims that she ends up with her hair in her mouth, her food in her lap, and her napkin on the next block.) But the "wind" was a soft breeze, further tamed by the wraparound fencing, and the patio was delightful with plenty of shade.

The inside of the shoppe smelled like delicious baked goods as we walked in the front door. So of course we asked what was fresh from the oven. We ordered a lemon scone, and it came with berry jam and Devonshire cream. Our tea was an herbal, Lemon Hibiscus. It was perfect poured over ice on this heated SF day. The staff was very accomodating, bringing us glasses with ice upon request. The lemon scone was light and had a perfect sprinkling of sugar on the top for sweet crispness. We're very picky about our scones, but this one had our tastebuds dancing with happiness. Scones are sold separately, so if you're in the neighborhood and just need a snack, run in and get one to go (or make sure you have your book and grab a table to enjoy your scone and cuppa).

The Polo tea shop has a special bread they feature called the 'Motorloaf.' The owner was making this bread as a small boy back in Ireland (he'll be happy to share stories with you, if you both have time) and brought the recipe with him. We got the Motorloaf for Two. This small loaf of homemade bread is made into a shell that holds your various sandwiches (see menu here for the list). This bread is not for those who are allergic to nuts as it has ground walnuts as one of the ingredients. The slight sweetness of this dense dark bread makes a good contrast to the mostly traditional fillings used in their sandwiches. They also give you more jam (actually marmalade this time) and Devonshire cream to eat with the shell of the 'car.'

Of course we share the sandwiches, split down the middle. The person cutting lets their dining partner choose which half they want. Miss Manners at tea time adventures!

Tal Y Tara's afternoon tea offerings are straightforward.  We have in past visits tried other items from the short menu. Give the iceberg wedge salad a miss, as it is a bit pricey for the quality. The fruit cup with honey glaze is good, they usually have high quality fruit here with good variety. The Motorloaf for two is quite enough for two, but your pot of tea must be ordered separately. We usually share a pot here. They have a nice list of teas and it has a good variety to choose from, including some house blends some 50 choices in all.

After eating (or while you're waiting for your made to order Motorloaf Sandwiches) check out the polo shop. You may find something to buy for that Horse Crazy niece of yours. Or you might find a nice hat for you instead, we San Franciscans need a little shade when the sun really comes out! The Polo Tea Shoppe is easy to find, just look for the big horse on the sidewalk. If you have the Scoutmob App, there is a pop-up (weekdays only) for a $5 coupon that you can use, or they offer a discount available for LevelUp users. 

Our experience at Tal Y Tara has Tea Time Adventures in the mood for more Afternoon Tea! Our goal is to provide readers with a weekly afternoon tea review through the Holidays. Then in the spring, we plan to introduce you to various tea businesses around the city where you can get a cuppa, but they don't serve traditional afternoon tea. It's a tasty job, and we look forward to it! If you know of someplace we should visit, or a tea we might like, make a comment.

Update December 2013

Stephanie and Angela remembered to get some photos during this visit! Tal Y Tara is still serving the same delicious Motorloaf, but now they've got the menu option to get tea time for two which includes a pot of tea and two scones. A great deal! They were in the midst of decorating for their upcoming weekend of Holiday Teas when we visited so if you're looking for a warm and comforting place to start a new Afternoon Tea tradition you can't go wrong with Tal Y Tara.

The family china, crazed with generations of tea.

Homemade lemon bars!

The motorloaf --sandwiches made to order, bread made with a family recipe

We got to pick from 4 scones with plenty of jam and cream to spread around.

Don't forget the marmalade!