Bay Area Reviews
Summary: Inferior tea and food makes this one of my least favorite tea rooms
As mentioned in previous reviews, every month my friends Vienna, Lotty , Regina and I get together for tea either at a Bay Area tea house or one of our houses. Sometimes our friend "Jennifer" (Frank's alter ego) comes with us. It's always very fun and we get to keep up with one another and bond. This month's tea (October 2006) took place at Leland Tea Company in San Francisco, a favorite of Vienna's. The small place looks more like a cafe than your classic tea house. It's quite nicely decorated in 1920s art nouveau style, and indeed it reminded me of the cafes I used to frequent in Cairo. I liked the atmosphere quite a bit. I also liked the prices - they are thoroughly affordable. A tea for two comes with unlimited house tea, four half-sandwiches, fruit, salad, two scones with devon cream and jam, two madeleines and two shortbread cookies. Quite a lot of food for only $20. Alas, I didn't think the quality of the food was very high.
My first complaint was with the tea. It was served lukewarm and it was very weak and "watery." It tasted to me like it was made with water that had not yet boiled. My friends, however, found it to be quite strong - though Regina, at least, wasn't thrilled by it. I found the food to be mostly mediocre as well. The cucumber sandwich was well executed and I liked the tomato and brie sandwich quite a lot, but the chicken salad sandwich was pedestrian and the flavors in the roast beef and gorgonzola sandwich didn't combine well. I thought the scones were gritty and not soft and fluffy like I like them. They are made in house but they are not served warm. The chocolate chip scone was interesting, but ultimately I don't think it was a winner. The scones came with a minuscule quantity of cream and jam, certainly not enough for all of them. They were also served with butter, but I personally don't like salted butter on my scones. The cookies were fine, though the madeleines I get at Zocalo here are considerably better. The shortbread cookie was very dense and on the dry side, but still enjoyable. I didn't try the salad, but the fruit was tasty enough. My friends were happier with the experience than I was, so perhaps I was particularly demanding that day or just making unfair comparisons with Lovejoys, my favorite tea house.
Service was good, though it can take a while to order or pay your bill depending on how many people are at the counter.
Leland Tea Company
1416 Bush St
San Francisco, CA