For my friend Sharon’s birthday she invited a few of her oldest friends to join her for a full tea at The Tudor Rose Tea Room. We had a great time all hanging out together and the staff at the tea room went some way to accommodating some special diet restrictions which was nice.
If what you want in a tea room is super-fey decor, the kind little girls are supposed to adore, this is the place for you. It’s stuffed to the gills with weird statuary of fairies and bunnies with carrots and the odd menacing Chinese guy. It has a fountain and twinkling lights and and, I have to mention this again, bunnies with carrots. The decorating style is not for grown-ups.
About their tea. They have plenty of varieties available but if you are a PG Tips drinker you must ask for their strongest black tea and request that they leave the tea in the pot to steep extra long. If you do this – you will have a great cup. The house teas they presented us with were really weak and full of flowers which, if you like that sort of thing, is fine. I don’t like flowery tea. Plenty of people do so this is a question of personal taste and if you go forewarned you can get what you like. So there’s something for everyone in the tea department.
Our waitress was really nice but I feel that she has been schooled to be extra genteel – to say “lovely” as many times as possible in conversation, and to modulate her voice to be extra gentle as though the customers are very delicate people. But really, I thought our server was doing a great job. It’s not her fault that I’m such a curmudgeonly person.
These are their sugar cubes. I do not pollute my tea with glossy colored sugar. I ripped the roses off the cubes. A little barbaric of me perhaps, but this is no way to treat honest sugar cubes or a good cup of tea.
The pots of tea keep on coming and that was really nice too. Especially when we finally asked for their strongest tea. About the food. The first thing they brought out was a tomato soup with tiny ravioli in it and I really enjoyed it. I liked it so much I went home and re-created it. The small salad was also really nice. Very fresh and good.
The scones were also very good. I have to say that they were nowhere near as good as the fresh baked scones I had at an inn in the Highlands, but really, nothing will ever compare to those so there’s no point in trying. These are very good.
I could not eat the sandwiches. I took one bite of the top level ones which were goat cheese with fig and some nuts on the outside. I didn’t know it was goat until I took the bite and had a mouth full of barnyard. This is not the tea house’s shortcoming, this is just my personal tastes butting in. I don’t eat meat and I don’t eat goat cheese but I think for those who do like these things, these sandwiches would not disappoint.
But here’s where I have got to come down hard. These pasties. I was really excited to eat one. They are filled with vegetables in a curry sauce. This is one of those things you expect the English to do exceptionally well since it really is one of their specialties. I was deeply disappointed by this. The pastry was not nice. Dry and a little hard – crunchy-ish. Crunchy-ish cardboard. There’s no excuse for this. Then there’s the curry gravy and vegetables. The English are supposed to be very good at curries. This one seemed like it maybe came from a mix or, I don’t really know. The vegetables must have been frozen and though that is not necessarily a crime, if you use frozen you absolutely have to use the best quality frozen you can buy. I could not finish my pastie and it made me mad to have been so let down. I can, and will, make my own curry pasties and they will be exponentially better than these ones.
And then there’s the finish. The little deserts were very pretty but I think they must have used the same pastry for these that they did for the curry pasties. When you bite into a morsel like this the pastry shell should be a bit delicate and melt in your mouth with the filling. It should not be toothy and dry. The lemon curd was also a bit bitter for my taste. But the pastry shells are the main problem.
Can I recommend The Tudor Rose to others? If you want to throw your little girl a real tea party this is the place to go. Little girls, big girls who wish they didn’t have to grow up, princesses, fairies, all will enjoy the atmosphere. If you are like me and prefer a more grown-up tea room, the bunnies and fairies will make you really uncomfortable.
Decor aside, I think if The Tudor Rose would change their pastry dough they will have made a substantial improvement to their fare.
Tudor Rose Tea Room
733 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa