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Afternoon Tea- LA Style

Published January, 2006

In the Scene Magazine

When most people consider comfort food, they think of hearty meatloaf with mashed potatoes or a bowl of homemade mac and cheese.  To me, comfort food not only encompasses these home cooked wonders but it also includes a simple and elegant pastime with British roots:  afternoon tea.  I can think of nothing more comforting than a steaming pot of Earl Grey and a sweet scone draped in Devonshire cream to cheer me up on a drizzly day or to cure Sunday afternoon blues.

In honor of what is one of the coldest months in much of the country, I took myself on a tea house “crawl” in search of not only the best pot of tea but the most aesthetically pleasing and mouth watering tea pastries and finger sandwiches in Los Angeles.

The Tudor House on 2nd Street in Santa Monica brings a wee bit of the UK to LA.  Despite being two blocks from Santa Monica Pier, every aspect of the experience at the Tudor House feels as authentically British as the Beatles or Queen Elizabeth.  The incredibly pleasant and proper staff serves afternoon tea or lunch with lovely lilting accents and serious charm.

The intimate dining room is laced with Victorian décor:  floral wallpaper dresses the walls and various knick-knacks and trinkets line the dark wooden ceiling trim.  Afternoon tea is generally presented in courses.  However, the Tudor House opts to bring everything, savory and sweet, to the table at once, served on delicate blue and white china.  The Tudor House’s Victoria Tea, which is slightly more expensive than the Afternoon Tea, is accompanied by a Mimosa, champagne or Kir Royale as well as a mini chocolate éclair.  Both teas include finger sandwiches, a scone served with strawberries, lusciously rich Devonshire cream and raspberry jam.  The Afternoon Tea gives the choice of a flakey, hot and buttery sausage roll or a mini vegetarian quiche.  The Tudor House also has a traditional lunch menu including baked beans, crumpets and various meat pies.  Their tea menu features British favorites such as P.G. Tips and Tetley.

Be forewarned;  the Tudor House boasts a crowd on the weekends so a queue may spill into the adjoining specialty shop which sells English imports including Cadbury Candy delights, Marmite, Walker’s Oatcakes and of course, tea.

Paddington’s Tea Room on Robertson Blvd. in Beverly Hills evokes an ambiance a child might conjure up while playing tea with friends.  A charmingly frilly and colorful setting complete with teddy bears on display, Paddington’s is a family owned tea house that exudes coziness.  Sit on a pillowy cushion at a table or take a seat at the tea bar.  No matter your preference, there is no avoiding the sense of relaxation that overcomes you as life’s frenetic pace melts away leaving you to slowly savor what seems like a bottomless pot of tea.

Our waiter was extremely attentive and kept our floral tea cups filled.  Paddington’s proudly serves a private label line of teas.  Although they give you the option of ordering slightly higher priced teas, the five course High Tea and the three course Afternoon Tea come with their house tea, which resembles a more mellow version of the generally robust English Breakfast.  I highly recommend it.

Make sure to call Paddington’s for weekend reservations as it books quickly due to its intimate space and unequivocal popularity.

The Tudor House
1403 2nd Street, Santa Monica
Afternoon Tea $13.95, Victoria Tea $17.95

Paddington's Tea Room
355 S. Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills
Afternoon Tea $25, High Tea $32