A small group consisting of weipanlan, derek, and myself gathered for afternoon tea Thursday August 22 in the Neiman Marcus Rotunda. Expecting more hounds to show up, we were seated at a five-person table with a great view of the rotundas stained glass ceiling window, and of the refurbished Union Square.
The service was unobtrusive, friendly, and helpful. The ever-savvy derek immediately put in a request for an order of popovers, a specialty of the restaurant. Shortly thereafter we each got a huge, hot puff of dough that was appropriately crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. The popovers were accompanied with individual rosettes of plain butter and strawberry butter. We all agreed that the sweetened butter was a better match for the popover.
If you were there for afternoon tea, you were limited to ordering the full tea for $18.95 no a la carte offerings. Neiman Marcus offered a choice of about seven caffeinated teas and two herbal teas. We each ordered different teas, all of which were Mighty Leaf bag teas served in the envelope with an individual teapot filled with hot water. Mine was the Rainforest Mint, which had a good flavor and was appropriately minty. A refill pot of hot water was left on our table so that we could refresh our pots ourselves, although at one point in our service our waiter did return and refresh our pots.
The tea goodies arrived on a silver two-layer tea service. We each got a scone; four tea sandwiches: cucumber, egg salad, smoked salmon, and a mini lavash sandwich; and three sweet treats: chocolate cake with a mocha and cream cheese filling, hazelnut macaroon sandwich cookie, and a blackberry fruit tart. For the most part, everything was enjoyable, although derek dissed the salmon as being too salty and weipanlan pronounced the scone to be more like a biscuit rather than a true scone and the accompanying spread to be overly sugared whipped cream rather than clotted cream. I liked my cucumber sandwich which I found to be very fresh tasting.
All in all, a very good tea experience. I would definitely return. For me, the highlight was more the surroundings, the service, and the company rather than the food and the tea. I left a fair amount of food on my plate, which hardly ever happens, though that could have been due to having popovers (for which we were not billed) along with all of the other goodies.
I very much enjoyed this, my first Chowhound event. Good food and lively conversation. What fun to talk almost exclusively about where the best taste treats in the Bay Area are!
(apolgies for the delay in posting)