The Laurel Court at the Fairmont San Francisco (7 reviews)
Took my sister her for her birthday. Beautiful and elegant. Each of us were served a separate pot of tea. Average choices. The food was presented beautifully, was good and was enough so all were served and satiated. They presented her with a special desert which was a great touch. Service was impeccable!
To put my review into perspective, I've had tea here at least 6-8 times over the past 20 years.
The setting is beautiful...the atrium courtyard of the Sheraton Palace hotel is light, bright, high ceilinged elegance. Usually a harpist or pianist provides relaxing musice. Afternoon here is a long-established San Francisco tradition.
The problem is that this tea room is definitely resting on their laurels. Because grammas, mothers and daughters have been coming here for decades, they just don't try that hard. FOR THE PRICE (@$40 per person), the food and the service just is not where it should be. The wait-staff is more or less indifferent. It's just a job. Most of the pastries and sandwiches felt a little tired...almost as if they were day-olds. The scones are lovely, however.
The tea service is itself is pretty good. The teas are lovely, the china is elegants, all the tea accessories are in place.
If you're new to afternoon tea or you're bringing little girls, you'll probably love this place. They have nice touches for little girls, and the elegance will be impressive.
If you're an afternoon tea officionado, you'll come away a bit miffed at what you get for the price. At $40 pp, it's just too much for indifferent service and the so-so food.
Sadly, this tea has gone downhill. Until last weekend, it was my favorite of all the tea experiences. Instead of several tea menus available, as there once were, there's now just one. I enjoyed the tea that included a glass of champagne, and caviar displayed in endive petals. I think it was called the 'Queen's Tea' or something deliciously decadant like that. It's GONE. Now the tea menue is more basic, less interesting...almost boring. And too many sweets. The service has always been bad, but now that the tea menu is boring, there's little to redeem the experience. Also, there was no harpist there on my last visit, as there used to be. Hope they bring this tea back around. It's a nice lobby and elegant dining room.
My mother and I discovered this tea room for my birthday tea in January 2008. The staff was very friendly and helpful. They were very accommendating when I specified a walnut allergy, by substituting for another of my choice. And when I asked for another empty teapot to decant in, they were happy to provide it.
My mother and I had such an fantastic time that we return with my sister's for our Mother's Day tea celebration. The service was excellent.
Since coming here, I have recommended this tea room to others to enjoy.
The Fairmont is so beautiful. We are glad that they have kept it's original architecture and decor. The tea service is just okay. The tea selections is limited and food is very average. We expected this since it is difficult for hotels to keep up their standards for fresh foods -- they have to preserve it by freezing, etc.
But, we still enjoyed the ambiance and the opportunity to relax a few hours and take tea.
The room is amazing, and weekends they have a harpist playing. They have a fine selection of loose teas, from Metropolitan Tea. My favorite is the 'Margaret's Hope Darjeeling'. They also have a new tea menu that is varied and delicious albeit a bit less traditional... you'll want to come back for the scones!