Following up on this post ( http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... ), I'm posting review of the Afternoon Tea @ the Ritz-Carlton at Huntington. For starters, if you want to go - make a reservation about 2 weeks ahead. It gets booked up fairly fast (presumably by the hotel's guests.)
I went with 2 friends (both tea-philes too), only valet parking is available at the hotel (a shocking $12, which turned out to be $5 after validation) -- though those who don't mind a quarter- to half-mile incline walk can park a block downhill (check the parking signs, however.)
The afternoon tea takes place in the Lobby Lounge, a well-sunlit room which looks out onto a giant lawn and a background scenery of the San Gabriel Valley. A live pianist was there, playing a mix of pop, contemporary and classical tunes. The couches and chairs were very comfy, with plenty of soft cushions to boot. The china are gold-rimmed and imported from England, a nice touch.
All 3 of us elected to have the Royal Tea ($37), which is basically the Afternoon Tea ($29) with a few alcoholic extras. We started off with a fizzy Champagne Kir Imperial cocktail, delightfully tart and crisp (actually tasted like a carbonated cosmopolitan.)
The teas we got (each pot pours about 5 cups) were also good but became awfully bitter over time because the cheesecloth-wrapped leaves were left in the pot (the server did offer later on to dilute the tea with more hot water, which helped a bit.) I had the "Ceylon Sapphire" - good black teas with a touch of maltiness (and goes well with sugar and cream,) and my friends opted for the more adventurous "Wild Blackberry" and "Ginger Twist" ~ both good in their respects but definitely no-no for traditionalists (and not as good with milk.)
Our first three-tiered plate consisted of 5 kinds of savory finger sandwiches, all meticulously arranged to be small works of edible art. Selections include parma ham with apple chutney on walnut raisin bread & poached shrimp with citrus cream and sprouts on sourdough. Beautiful and delicious as they are, the portions were too small (each finger sandwich can easily be consumed in a bite, and the 3 of us were all used to more than 5 bites of savories in afternoon teas.)
The second three-tiered plate consisted of various cakes, cookies and pastries, raisin mini-scones, and thin slices of lemon poppyseed poundcakes. One of my friend wished she had more tea sandwiches instead, and I agreed that none of the sweets were particularly good (it wasn't bad overall, but we were expecting something more outstanding ~ esp. given the creative touches in their savories.)
The meal was finished off with a goblet of strawberries and cream topped off with a dose of liqueur (Chambord and/or Grand Marnier). I had the Chambord and it was quite good (I also had a taste of my friend's Grand Marnier and felt that the liqueur was too strong.)
After tax & tips, it came out to $46 pp (+ $5 for parking, thank goodness we carpooled) -- the experience was 'ok' to 'not-bad', MUCH better than Millenium-Biltmore but nothing really special, so probably not likely to go again, especially with so many other tearooms [many that are cheaper] we have yet to check out.
... next stop for us: in 2 weeks, we are heading to the Regent Beverly-Wilshire ;) will keep you guys posted.