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Sunday, January 25, 2015

The English Rose Tea Room: A place in bloom!

First date in 2015: Lunch date #64, January 9, 2015
I wanted something special to kick off our new year of lunches, so thought a nice "high" tea at The English Rose Tea Room, 163 West Neal (http://www.theenglishrose-pleasanton.com/) would be just perfect for us. I was longing for some good "cream tea" (tea with scones and Devonshire cream) and Mom and never had a proper English tea, so we were ready for a treat. I'm glad we made a reservation, on this rather routine Friday in January, as the place was quite full!

Location 5 points: Downtown, but up a ½ block on Neal. Not an issue, usual parking hassle of downtown.

Ambiance 4 points: A very feminine affair, with roses everywhere!  Victorian feel with lots of tables fit in the smallish room, with bric-a-brac all 'round, creating an intimate girls-only atmosphere.  Mom had fun pointing out how there were roses on everything: the tapestry pillows on the seats, in the cups, on the walls, chandelier…everywhere.

Menu selection 5 points: Tea, tea and more tea! Actually many tea choices with an endless supply. We sampled the chocolate cookie dough tea upon arrival (not so great), but settled on a pot of the Rose-infused house tea and followed with a pot of Darjeeling. As for the food portion of the menu: they offer a standard "high" tea complete with savory choices and dessert: The "Queens Sumptuous Afternoon Tea". They also offer a scaled down "cream tea" (scones/cream only) or a mid-range sample of sandwiches/scones without the savory or desserts: The "Duchess Anna's Delightful Tea". It is cute to see that they also offer a special menu for younger ladies: Petite Treats! Considering it is a tea room, we couldn't think of anything else they could offer, hence the full award of points for this category.

Service 4.5 points: Our server was delightful and very attentive. Only a slight deduction in points when we had to wait a bit for fresh cups (after we elected not to finish the cookie-dough flavored tea). There really isn't too much for a server to do, since the entire meal is served on the 3-tier serving stand and the menu has just a few choices. The biggest job is to bring the patrons fresh tea as needed, but she was very kind and knowledgeable of the products and teas.

Food 3 points: The food quality was rather average. Everything was good, but not over-the-top by any means. Quite a few of the sandwiches had gorgonzola, which I don't care for, so that was a bit limiting. My favorite was the egg salad on the phyllo nest. There was also a cranberry gorgonzola puff pastry that Mom liked and a mini-beef Wellington. I was surprised to learn that the scones and desserts are not made on site. They also purchase the Devonshire cream! Both the Devonshire cream and lemon curd were quite good.

Value 3.5 points: Pretty pricey at $25 each (more for the same on weekends). We agreed that we were paying for the overall experience and the price does include the drinks (tea) and dessert. We could have gone without the savory selections (2-3 items) and the dessert for $5 less per person.

Overall score for The English Rose Tea Room 4.2 points.  We had a brilliant time and enjoyed our experience. It was a bit pricey for lunch, and some of the food items were just fair, but overall we felt the experience was quite fun and adventurous, with a lovely setting and excellent service. 

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