Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Palace of Afternoon Tea- Garden Court

Are you looking for a "Special Occasion" Afternoon Tea location? Tea Time found the Garden Court at The Palace Hotel to be a beautiful place to enjoy afternoon tea. It's available only on Saturdays, between 1:00 to 2:30pm, so make a reservation in advance. They can accommodate a large or small group. We saw families and duos, ladies with red hats and friends having fun. When Tea Time arrived at the hostess pulpit we were directed to a side table that gave us a great view of the room. We settled in with our tea menus and listened to the piano man play. The sun was bright, shining through the glass dome over the courtly room, and it made us wonder if we could get a view from the top. But a sneak peek down onto the top of the dome would have to wait for another day; we were hungry!

Your fine china and silver service awaits

This restaurant is a lovely place to enjoy the sun.
Flowers and greenery abound here at the Garden Court.
We ordered our tea and chatted. We both chose to get The Garden Court Tea, but if you would like to make your tea Tipsy, you have the option of a Sparkling Wine Tea, The Royal Tea or Tea for Two. There is  even a Prince and Princess Tea (12 and under) which includes a crown(!) and scepter, plus their choice of hot chocolate. The Garden Court tea service has a small list of teas that covers all the bases. If you're caffeine free you could try an herbal mix, or fruit tea. They also have several traditional black tea options along with a white tea and a green tea. It was easy to pick two different teas and share (as we usually do). They were the White Tea, Pai Mu Tau Silver Typ and Red Fruit (Elderberries, black and red currants, hibiscus). There is a set seasonal menu for afternoon tea at The Palace Hotel, so if you have allergies or dietary needs, let them know when you reserve!
Red Fruit Tea

Gimme that Cuppa!
Our tray  has arrived!
The tea tray arrived with the standard plates featuring desserts, sandwiches and scones. Sometimes Tea Time likes to start sandwiches first (when we're Hungry) so we dove into the plate which featured (top L to R) Asparagus with Chive Mousse, Cucumber with Green Goddess Creme, Late Summer Squash with Red Pepper Mousse, Dijon Ham with Brie Butter and Apple and also Smoked Salmon Roulade with Dill Cream. The most exotic ingredient was the white asparagus, which is grown in complete darkness.

Seasonal Sandwiches, check the website for menu updates.
After our tea sandwiches, we were ready to try the housemade scones. Happily they provided all three condiments we require with our scones: lemon curd, a red berry jam and cream. This trio of spreads make the world of afternoon tea complete. (Sometimes Tea Time feels a bit incomplete when one is missing from our afternoon tea experience.) The tea tray comes with four scones, two of each flavor so we divvied those up and nibbled them down.

Ahhh, Afternoon Tea is complete!
Our favorite trio ready to serve

Currant and Plain scones.

Finally, on to dessert. The hunger monster had been tamed, so we were free to call a waiter for more water (our only suggestion is bigger tea pots!) and linger over our sweets. There were plenty to savor including a chocolate torte triangle, mini fruit tart, eclair, passion fruit cake slice, lemony tart with a blueberry and even a chocolate covered strawberry! The strawberry was our favorite, with the fruit tart coming in a close second for Angela. Of course J. K. wished for more chocolate torte!
Tea Time loves dessert and this plate has variety and flavor to spare.
One interesting device at our table had us talking the entire tea time. The Garden Court provides an unusual tea strainer. Our server suggested a specific way to use it as the strainer tends to fall off the cup, but by the end of tea we had figured it out! This silver strainer, made by D.W. Haber & Sons, NY, sits low in your cup when you hook it on the side properly, so perhaps that is the other reason the server suggests to hold it above your cup when you pour.

Ready for the proper pour.

The Palace Hotel Garden Court is a great spot to enjoy afternoon tea in San Francisco. If you have the time to check out the Pied Piper Bar (also in the hotel), you may get a glimpse of the famous Maxfield Parrish painting of the same name if it's back from being cleaned and restored. It's an awesome sight, right above the bar.  Tea Time wants your suggestions! Is there some place you'd like to suggest we visit and write up our experience as an Afternoon Tea blog post? Let us know! We've got a few spots up our sleeve, but we'd like to know if we've missed your favorite afternoon tea spot.

Get a little Tipsy at the Garden Court Afternoon Tea!