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Coffee & Tea

Holiday Tea at Michael Minna – Regular and Vegetarian

Krys Stanley | Dec 19, 200404:47 PM

Both the vegetarian and regular teas are priced the same … $32 … with champagne (Iron Horse) $42 … add strawberries and cream … $45.

I think it says it all when the most memorable thing was the rye bread in the chicken salad with procuitto tea sandwich. That tiny taste was the best rye bread I’ve had on the West Coast.

The baked goods were the strength of the tea. The tiny quarter sized tarts … lemon, banana, berry were intensely flavored with the thinnest of crusts. Applause for the blueberry and blackberry that tasted like they were plucked in the prime of summer.

However, throughout the tea, there was a lack of attention to detail. While there were three generous dishes of clotted cream and marmalade, there was only one tiny quarter-sized scone to place these on. Everything else was cookies and tarts … not anything you’d slather with jelly. So I broke down the itsy bitsy scone into atomic sized pieces and piled on as much crème and marmalade as each crumb could accommodate.

Despite the fancy Kobe roast beef tea sandwiches and truffled this and truffled that, it was only good, not great.

The problem, for me, started with the reservations. I was told they were totally booked the morning I called. However, I could have tea in the lounge or at the bar. When I arrived, I was told there was “one table available”. For the hour and a half I spent at the restaurant, only six tables were occupied. I didn’t like the dishonesty of the reservation desk. It put me in a bad mood.

The tea started off promising enough. A silver tray held every sweetener known, plus cream, lemon and tea bag. The tea is sent out brewed. You can add the tea bag to adjust the strength. The glass tea pots were nice to admire the color of the tea, but the tea was never more than luke warm to start and cooled quickly.

There were a half dozen teas. There were two English teas and the rest were flavored oolongs. I chose the pear oolong which had no taste of pear.

Some of the presentation wasn’t that pretty. The dishes holding the sandwiches were plain white crockery, the type you’d see at the neighborhood haufbrau. The champagne flute was a sturdy glass, like something you’d pick up at Wal-Mart. Charge me more. I want pretty china and crystal at a restaurant of this caliber. Use some of that china it took a year to design to hold the sandwiches and tarts.

Who would have thought that the beginning of the new millennium would be the era of bleak restaurant décor. There is the black and dreary Slanted Door, the colorless Cliff House and the boring beige and grey of Michael Minna. Yes, I can appreciate how the colors match the St Francis Lobby. I just find it very stark despite the praise it has received for it’s restrained good taste. Even the Christmas decorations are dull gold. There is nothing of holiday cheer in the restaurant. I could see Ebenezer chewing on that last crust of bread.

The staff was pleasant and professional. Another plus was that tastes of wine were offered in addition to glasses of wine.

I miss the old Compass Rose.

Based on tea, dinner at MM is way, way down on my list. Maybe not even on it. I guess I’m just not sophisticated enough for the restaurant.

Here’s the Chronicle review that appeared prior to the strike.



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