14 February 2013

Afternoon Tea Review - Montage Beverly Hills


You might as well know it, I am not a normal woman. I don't like chocolate (though I make chocolate stuff for others). And--true confession time--I hate (detest, abhor, loathe) shopping. I know a lot of women who rely on "retail therapy" to cheer them up, but nothing does that for me quite like afternoon tea. Aah-fternoon tea. 

On a recent trip to Los Angeles, I joined a friend for afternoon tea at Montage Beverly Hills. She reminded me that it's been more than twenty years since I introduced her to the pleasures of afternoon tea and it had been three months since we had last gone out for tea together. We agreed it's crucial to our well-being and that we must have tea together more often.
 
Such a pair of avid tea aficionados--okay, okay, make that tea snobs--have, as you might assume, pretty high standards. We want ambience, excellent scones with the proper accompaniments, a sufficient number of well-made sandwiches, assorted pastries and proper tea. Doesn't sound like too much to ask, but you'd be surprised at how few places merit a perfect score.
 
Let's start with ambience. Though just a few years old, Montage manages to create the illusion of the old-world elegance I love. Tensions melted away as we sank into comfy chairs at a window table looking out on the courtyard, a park-like oasis right in the city. A glass of sparkling wine, along with the serene sounds of the harp, struck just the right note.

Of course, we like to think we add to the
ambience by dressing for the occasion!

The table was set with lovely china, and when our server brought out the two trays of accompaniments--one with milk, honey and lemon for the tea and one with clotted cream, lemon curd and raspberry jam for the scones--we practically swooned! We thought, Clearly these people know what they're doing!

Our chosen teas were brought out in two full-sized teapots after they were brewed. Thank you! I can't tell you how much I hate being served a tiny pot of "hot" water and an assortment of teabags! When the traditional three-tiered stand was set before us, we started with the scones. Excellent--the proper texture and not too sweet. The quality of the lemon curd, raspberry jam and especially the clotted cream was well above the usual. As you can see from the photo below, we like clotted cream a lot!
 

The sandwiches--turkey, fig and mascarpone; curried chicken salad; cucumber; hummus and grilled carrots; watercress; and egg salad (two of those, because neither of us cares for smoked salmon)--each on a different bread--were delicious and satisfying.

 
I usually skip the little pastries at tea. To me they're just decoration for the tea table. So I can't really comment on those except to say that they were indeed very pretty.

For reservations, call 310-499-4199 (Montage, 225 N Canon Drive, Beverly Hills). For tea at home, see: How to Make a Proper Cup of Tea, Tea and Scones, and my review of the Zojirushi Water Boiler and Warmer

And, tell me, do you prefer shopping or afternoon tea? Or both? 

20 comments:

ZipZip said...

If it's antiquing before or after afternoon tea, both! If it's boutique shopping, mmmmm, maybe once or twice a year. Any other kind of shopping? Ick: I'm with you.

Very best,

Natalie

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Well, let's not even call antiquing "shopping." And it *would* combine well with afternoon tea, wouldn't it?

Tea in England said...

Lovely, Jean! Love the crockery and the sandwiches were very pretty. I'm like you - don't care for smoked salmon sandwiches, no matter how traditional they are. Did you feel this Afternoon Tea was good value for money?

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Jean:
Thank you so much for leaving a comment on our blog, through which we have been delighted to have found you.

Afternoon Tea is, sadly, not the institution that it once was, particularly in Britain. However, yours sounds to have been wonderful. The only absence appears to be extra hot water!!!

Although we are English we live in Budapest where scones are completely unknown. And so, although we never venture into the kitchen normally, we are forced to go there to make scones!!!

We have signed as Followers.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Denise, thank you! Yes, though it was very pricey, my friend and I both felt it was worth it. Some of our other friends who enjoy tea from time to time, but who do not love and need it like we do, would not agree.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Jane and Lance, thank you. And thank you for following. No, here you will never find the little pot of extra hot water; you just ask for it. And in this case, when my tea was getting low, I just asked for another pot. (I drink a LOT of tea!) Glad to hear you're keeping up the scone tradition! I always make them wedge-shaped as my mother and grandmother did.

Melanie said...

Those sandwiches look DIVINE!! I would love to go out for afternoon tea, simply for the clotted cream. :) (Trader Joe's has this organic raspberry fruit spread that is wonderful on scones, but clotted cream would hit the spot.)

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Yes! But so many places either give you a tiny amount of it or a faux version. If they're going to do faux, I don't even mind stiffly beaten cream, but what I hate is the watery thin stuff. One expensive tea I attended, at a place that otherwise did it right, actually squirted a bit of canned whipped topping (not even canned whipped cream!) into a little dish!

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

Mercy, but I believe I’m beginning to understand you. It is not what you like that is clueing me in but rather what you don’t like – or need. The shopping, the pastries. Guess I had assumed that shopping and wedding planning were…um, wedded. Not so. Different category of “shopping” as far as you’re concerned. And pastries…well, we need not dwell on the fact that pastries are the one thing I would take away from the table, so to speak. Guess it kind of reinforces what I see as common ground in our separate passion for perfection. You truly do take a sense of propriety, natural order, God-is-in-heaven-and-all-is-well, even righteousness in the harmony and order of tea-time rites. p.s. I forgive you for not liking chocolate (more for me).

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Sully, you're just peeling back the outermost of my many layers! And, yes, you are welcome to have all the chocolate and all the little overly sweet pastries on the tea table. Just don't try to snag any of my sandwiches or scones!

Yenta Mary said...

Both. But really, if I had to choose it wouldn't be hard: afternoon tea would win. Everything looks just luscious! Particularly that generous serving of clotted cream ... :)

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Yes, you *look* like someone who would enjoy shopping - you have a really vibrant, energetic look! I get completely drained by shopping.

Judy at Cranberry Morning said...

The afternoon tea at Montage Beverly Hills sounds superb! Everything looked and was described wonderfully (delicious). As for the question? I hate shopping except at book stores, but I am quite sure I would love afternoon tea, especially with all those great accompaniments! Makes me want to go make a batch of scones.

Judy
http://www.cranberrymorning.blogspot.com

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Oh, Judy, I know you would love it! In the meantime, a batch of scones will be great.

Laura Dembowski said...

I am allergic to chocolate, so it doesn't much matter if I like it or not. I do love shopping, however. Tea sounds so fun, and to me in gloomy, cold Michigan, anything California sounds wonderful.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Laura. There are quite a few places in Michigan to go for afternoon tea, including Flora's Tea Room at The Whitney in downtown Detroit and Sweet Afton Tea Room in Plymouth.

Candace said...

I've enjoyed tea....what girl from the south hasn't, right? I typically have mine "iced". I have never experienced the afternoon tea ritual though. It looks delightful! I think I must change that in my life.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thank you, Candace. I hope you'll find a good tea room near you. You reminded me - my Southern grandmother always made iced tea, but I've had some really wonderful afternoon teas in the South. Had a great one in Atlanta at Ritz-Carlton Buckhead.

Julia | JuliasAlbum.com said...

Lovely review! I love tea, and my ideal tea-drinking setting would include a character in the veil - reminds me of the old British TV series. And I would have eaten all those pastries. :)

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Julia! Perfect - you can have all my pastries if I can have a couple of your sandwiches or one of your scones!

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