Review: English Rose Tea room delights young and old
By Kathy Chin Leong
I have been sipping this rejuvenating elixir since I was a kid, and as an adult, I still love opening canisters of tea and sniffing the aroma of loose leaves from India and China. By the time Merrianne took me to this new and untried tea room in June for my birthday, I had gone to teas in every part of the world imaginable. Tea in a castle in New Zealand on my honeymoon. Sunday tea in the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong at Christmas. Afternoon tea with guitar music in Oahu with my daughter and Auntie Liz. Tea at the funky Bee Hive in Salt Lake City with my hubby, Frank during a business trip this winter. I love it all.
Only a tea zealot would open a tea room because the details of starting and running such an enterprise are too staggering to list. But for the owner, Lisa Binzoni, this place is an answered prayer. Started five years ago, the English Rose is the quaint, quintessential tea room you would expect to come out of the pages of a Beatrix Potter book. A ceiling dotted with glass chandeliers, soft pastel green stripes on the walls, decorated small tables that can seat two or groups of six, china place settings, soft piano music, dolls and flowers strewn throughout make it an oasis in the middle of downtown Pleasanton. There is also a side patio with antique furnishings for more tea seatings, ivy, pillows, and pastel tablecloths so pretty that you must take photos. I must have taken at least 50 of them when I came for the first time. Yes, since this place is so popular, reservations are recommended.
Because Lisa is a Christian, the theme of Christian love and compassion come through in the walls with lovely phrases that say, "Glory to God" all taken from Bible passages, Christian gift books for sale, and an open Bible and box for prayer requests in the entryway.
The spiritual encouragement is all subtle and full of love from Lisa and her staff. If you want prayer on the spot, Lisa or any of her servers will pray for you. Lisa says there has been even healing prayers for people who have been sick, and their names are written on the branches of the tree mural.
So while getting spiritually filled, you get physically filled as well. The tea treats arrive dressed up in a regal three-tiered plate display with delicate pastries and sweets arranged with care. The fare is delectable, and prices are comparable to other tea rooms. You can order the full Queen’s tea for $23 or the smaller Duchess tea for $18. The only difference is that you get a choice of desserts at the $23 level. An accompanying kids’ tea starts at $8.50 for scones and a drink and goes to $15 for a complete tea service. The day I came, several mommies came with their preschoolers in tow, and the little girls were so dressed up that they looked like they should have been in a Victorian movie.
But back to food. Here at the English Rose, buttery scones are flaky and not too dry, not too moist and come with lemon curd, clotted cream, and strawberry jam that can be refilled upon request. The finger sandwiches such as cucumber or turkey are fresh and bursting with flavor. On my two visits here, I found the yummies to be filling and abundant, and I needed a box to take home my spoils.
The English Rose carries a dizzying array of loose leafed teas from herbal to black, oolong, green, flavored, and fruit infused. You can also try different types of tea brews when you finish your pot of tea that comes with your order. This is a nice feature other tea rooms do not have. In addition, the nicely aproned servers offer you a clean, hot towel to wipe your hands at the start, and when you are done, they offer you a squirt of hand lotion before you venture out into the cold, cruel world.
The English Rose
163 West Neal Street
Open Tuesday through Saturday from 11-5 p.m with seatings at 11, 1 and 3 p.m.
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