Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Lovejoy’s Tea Room
Reviewed Lovejoy’s Tea Room: Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I have been going to Lovejoy’s Tea Room for over eight years and have ALWAYS left feeling delightfully full in mind, body, and spirit. There is a marvelous quality of comfort gained from the experience of “taking tea,” and Lovejoy’s quirky décor and their delicious food and, most especially, their stellar service provides the ideal place to practice this longstanding tradition. Their cozy tearoom is filled nostalgically with mismatched china cups and saucers, lace doilies, and a hodgepodge of art on the walls that only helps to create the overall atmosphere of stepping into your favorite auntie’s parlor for tea and scones.
The windy grey afternoon I chose to go did not dampen my anticipation for the delights I knew that awaited me. The owner that greeted us warmly and showed my companions and me to an enchanting table nestled in by two super soft sofas. My two friends and I ordered Lovejoy’s Queen’s Tea for three. Our Queen’s Tea came with six sandwiches (from a generous and varied selection), organic green salad, coleslaw, fresh fruit, three scones with double Devon cream, a crumpet with lemon curd, three tea cookies, and a petite four. And for our teas we chose vanilla rooibos, peppermint, and blood orange.
The tea arrived first, and we were asked to allow it to steep for a few more minutes. I could hardly wait just smelling their steaming fragrances! Fortunately one of the best parts of taking the time “to tea” is sharing time with your companions at the table. This day we chatted about current affairs, spouses, gossip magazines, and projects we were up to. It was a brilliant way to spend an hour or so in this fast-paced world. The bulk of the tea service came promptly on a three-tiered tray and was thoughtfully explained to us by our waitress. She pointed out the location of our different sandwiches and explained that our crumpets would arrive warm near the end of the meal.
Our sandwiches, cut into quaint, crust-less triangles, included the “House Special,” which consisted of sage-infused cheese, turkey, and pear. A combination that was delicious! Also, we really enjoyed the salmon mousse, the egg and onion, and the traditional cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches. My standard favorites though are their roast beef and horseradish and their ham with English mustard. The salad was a fresh organic spring mix with a spicy mustard dressing that I can never get enough of and have asked many times for the recipe, which they have never agreed to give me! Of course, my favorite part of the meal is their scones smeared with double Devon cream. So warm and sweet and not dry like your aunt’s, they are an indulgence that is over-the-top divine! We spent an hour and a half enjoying ourselves, eating, drinking, and talking.
I have shared many tea times at Lovejoy’s with friends and family and have always been treated like a queen!
Occupation: Real Estate Manager
Favorite Restaurant: Don Pico’s Mexican Bistro & Cevicheria
Reviewed Lovejoy’s Tea Room: Wednesday, May 11, 2011
My first impression was that I was walking into an antique shop. Overstuffed sofas and antique tables and chairs adorned the room with cute signs that said things such as, “reserved for royalty,” “reserved for kings,” etc. The walls are covered with Americana-type crafts. The tearoom was two-thirds full in the afternoon, and there were several parties of six or more and each group was totally buying into the whole afternoon tea theme and everyone was enjoying themselves.
I was asked if I had a reservation and, as my experience continued, I came to understand why. This place gets busy! People were coming in and out to make future reservations for tea parties and get-togethers; they have quite a following! My waitress Luna asked me if this was my first time and when I replied, “Yes,” she walked me through the tea selections. She was very helpful. As I was working my way through the menu, I ordered the savory tea, which came with two tea sandwiches, of which there are 10-15 different choices. I opted for the egg and onion and tomato and cheese. I also ordered two a la carte sausage rolls. Luna pointed out that they are very well known for their scones, so I ordered those, too.
The presentation of the food was formal without being pretentious. Depending on the size of your order, your selections come on tiered crystal serving trays, and the tea is served in fine china teacups, which is a nice touch. The sandwiches were very tasty, and the sausage rolls were warm and tender. I received a quick lesson in how to “take tea,” and it allowed me to enjoy the process. The scones were just remarkable. Having only had scones from Starbucks, I had no idea what a properly made scone was supposed to taste like — let the food coma begin! I dare anyone to finish both of the scones. Presented with the Devonshire cream and preserves, they were just to die for! Luna came by to ask if I was interested in their “sweet tray,” and I had her bring it by. On it were petit fours in a variety of flavors. I went for the orange and milk chocolate, a fine choice! Luna stated that since this was my first time, this one was on the house! A perfect ending.
Everything here is done tongue-in-cheek, just to reiterate, the more you buy into the program, the more enjoyable the experience. I would recommend it to those who enjoy having tea in a venue that is more authentic than a coffee house or for a gathering of young kids when you want to have a tea party or for those seeking a fun time.
Occupation: Market Researcher
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Saha
Reviewed Lovejoy’s Tea Room: Friday, May 20, 2011
To be honest I wasn’t very excited to try out Lovejoy’s Tea Room, I’m more of a coffee gal, and the few times I’ve driven by Lovejoy’s, it always looked so stuffy. Not really my style when I’m looking to go out and have a good time. That being said, we went with an open mind, especially since the more we asked around, the more good things people had to say about it, which must be why it’s so hard to get a weekend reservation!
Upon walking into Lovejoy’s, you are made to feel like you’ve stepped back in time about sixty years by both the decor and the slightly stuffy smell. There are small tables everywhere that are “Reserved for Royalty,” an eclectic mix of china teacups and plates on every table, and lots of lace. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a welcoming environment, but instead makes you feel the need to act a bit more prim and proper and worry that you may be doing things wrong. I initially thought that the one time I might consider going to a place like this was for my young niece’s birthday celebration or something, but it really doesn’t feel like a very kid-friendly or fun environment, so I’m not sure that I would even do that.
For an early dinner we ordered a pot of one of their special green teas (steeped with toasted rice corn) and two items off of their pub menu. I had their quiche, which had artichokes and cheese in it and was served with a side salad ($8.95). The dressing on the salad was nice, and had a bit of horseradish in it, which I love. The quiche, however, was a big disappointment. I love quiche and often order it out, as I think it’s a good way to judge the quality of food. I look for a quiche to be light and airy and almost melt in your mouth with a crisp, buttery crust. Lovejoy’s quiche was the exact opposite. It was dense and rubbery and had an unappealing thick layer of congealed chewy cheese on top. The crust was really dark; overcooked and crumbly instead of flaky. Definitely not a good quiche! We also tried out a savory beef pastie (kind of like a small pot pie), which came with the same side salad as the quiche. The pastie wasn’t bad but nothing great. It was ground seasoned meat mixed with carrots and peas inside of a flaky crust, much better than the quiche crust.
For dessert, our waitress suggested the scones ($12.95 for two, including the pot of cream), which she said they were famous for. We were skeptical since we’ve both had our fair share of really bad scones and hadn’t been impressed with Lovejoy’s food so far, but gave them a go and ended up very glad that we did! They only serve one kind of scone, the traditional raisin scone, and it comes out with clotted cream and preserves. They were warm with a tender, moist center, and a slightly sweet crisp outside, just delicious with the cream and preserves.
We thought we were done, but had one last sweet by splitting a dark chocolate orange petit four ($2.50), which was tasty. On par with what you would expect from a petit four, but a little steep in terms of price.
Overall, I was underwhelmed by Lovejoy’s. While the scones were delicious, the rest of the food was sub par at best (especially in such a phenomenal food city!), and the atmosphere was not very relaxing or enjoyable. I don’t see any reason why I would return and, unless I had friends who were seriously into the whole high tea experience, I wouldn’t recommend going to Lovejoy’s Tea Room. I guess you could say, it’s just not my cup of tea…pun intended of course!