Woohoo my first restaurant review. Just thinking aloud here- I’m going to basically do my own version of yelp, which is (in a very test run sort of way):
1. a narrative style account of my experience
2. General ratings about food, ambiance, and the dining itself
3. Last but not least, a letter grade for the establishment.
So here we go!
Chado Tea Room
A few weeks ago, when in San Francisco with some friends, we scheduled an afternoon tea reservation and I had soaring hopes for it; unfortunately, these hopes were almost instantaneously crushed in a horrific parade of paper napkins, bitchy waitresses, and diabetically sweet desserts.
Then a few days ago, I apprehensively cashed in my groupon at Chado Tea in Hollywood with three close girlfriends…and despite my trepidation, it was great!
We wound through the tangled streets of L.A., gawking at the celebrity impersonators and the paunchy tourists vying for pictures with them (saw a black Jedi shouting down a pair who hadn’t paid him for a picture), and then finally pulled into the parking lot for the shopping plaza that Chado tea was located in. We dodged the pee scented stairs (lol) and then were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in the interior of a Beverly Center esque shopping plaza. Regrettably, we didn’t get time to shop but we did quickly find the tea room.
It’s actually a lot more pleasant than that lol. There was a little outdoor seating area with a few tables under perched umbrellas, but considering the humid day we dodged inside and chose a table near the tea canisters.
Our server Fernando handed us a daunting pamphlet of teas and genially explained the groupon procedures; we each get to choose a pot of tea, and also would get two platters of sandwiches, scones, and desserts. My expectations were already being surpassed; he was extremely polite, funny enough but not overly so, and patiently made a few suggestions as we leafed bug eyed through our pamphlets (which were really more like small books).
After a few minutes and snorting/giggling at our own confusion, Frances ordered the Phoenix, Connie ordered an iced pomegranate, I ordered an iced tropical Hawaiian (the heat beat taste for me this time) and Erica ordered a classic Assam. Our food trays came out first, with the first tier of toasted sandwiches- chicken lingonberry (very interesting), egg, cucumber, and smoked salmon. There was a toasty freshly baked scone (or, I suspect, warmed in the oven but it was tasty nonetheless) and then two mini bundt cake slices at the bottom.
We were already pretty giggly because Fernando was nice and joked around with us, and we pestered him happily about the tea origins and whatnot. The sandwiches were a little above average, the cucumber- with its delicate, herbed spread- being my favorite.
The teas were a little disappointing but good nonetheless; the iced teas were…well, iced teas, so it was whateves. Frances’s phoenix tea was a delicious, sweet tooth appropriate blend of caramel and vanilla flavors. And Erica’s Assam was probably the highest and best quality tea we had- a deep, earthy black tea.
We steadily ate our way through the tiers, and by the time I got to the cakes (which were decent) we were all surprisingly full. We sat and chatted relaxedly for awhile, before asking for the check, leaving a pretty good tip, and then choosing two loose leaf teas. I wanted to be crazy and choose something like Classic Assam, or one of the expensive blends that were described as “champagne blends”, but instead went with the Phoenix and the Mauritius (a tea grown amongst vanilla plants) which were more reasonably priced and shareable with my friends.
Needless to say, we left with that pleasant feeling of fullness and contentment at an afternoon well spent. Despite the shoddy touristy location, Chado tea did pretty well in my books (perhaps particularly in contrast with Dartealing…).
But let’s rate it!
To be honest, the food wasn’t blow your mind. I say 8/10 because it was definitely better than average (7/10) but still rather around the decent levels.
A very nice small tea shop, clean, polished, with legitimate giant cans of tea displayed.
It was a really pleasant experience, and the only reason it’s not a 9 or a 10 is because I’m going to reserve that for restaurants that really blow my mind. I doubt that any afternoon tea, save a legitimate one in London or paris, can rank higher than an 8.
Letter grade (lol at my teacher-ness): Let’s give Chado a B+ as an overall. I was pretty impressed with the quality of service, food, and teas, but I’m sure there’s better out there. Until next time!