Lady K. hosted the autumn tea for the Victorian Tea Society at the fancy Westgate Hotel. Afternoon tea is held in the Westgate Room, which is the lobby of the hotel. It can be a little busy with guests coming in and out but it’s a gorgeous setting for afternoon tea.
Tables for afternoon tea
The ambiance and setting of the hotel was beautiful and it was a joy to sit in the Westgate Room. However, I have a few complaints… I hate to complain but after visiting so many tea rooms and hosting a few afternoon teas myself, there are a few things that I see over and over again in tea rooms that just bug the hell out of me! I’ve decided I’m not going to hold back anymore and just lay it all out in the hopes that the word gets out and tea room owners or managers will take notice.
Each guest gets to order their own tea which is served in individual teapots. I like this a lot! I tried the classic English blend tea and it was okay. I don’t have any complaints about their tea selection because they had a good variety–I just happened to pick one that wasn’t very good. The main problem was that the water was not hot enough which is why my tea seemed under-steeped.
The second disappointment was the very slow service! Even though we were the first party to arrive for the 2:30pm seating (in fact, we arrived early!), the wait staff did not take our tea orders until 1/2 hour after we were seated (for some of us, that was 45 minutes) and the tea didn’t arrive for another 1/2 hour.
In case you were wondering if the Westgate Hotel offered a vegetarian option for afternoon tea, here it is:
Our food was served tableside by the wait staff, instead of on 3-tier caddies, possibly due to the size of our group. However, if you have 4 or fewer guests, the food is served on 3-tier caddies. On the plus side: The presentation of the food was very pretty.
The menu was a suggestion because the actual food served was a little different. Comparing the menu above, we were served the following instead: smoked salmon with caviar on brioche (notice the caviar is missing), black tiger shrimp and cilantro cream cheese on sourdough toast, white cheddar cheese muffin, Humboldt fog goat cheese on brioche, and curried chicken salad sandwich. My two major complaints related to food:
- I don’t mind when the menu changes but it really bugs me when the wait staff can’t explain what the foods are!
- All the sandwiches were extremely dry or so crisp that when you took a bite, the filling got squished out or slid off the bread or toast!
- The food was obviously made far in advance. The wait staff brought out the food on platters still covered in plastic wrap which implies it had been sitting in the fridge. For the sake of appearances, the plastic wrap should have been removed in the kitchen and not at the table before serving. It seemed tacky to me and inappropriate for an establishment that is trying to promote white tablecloth fancy dining.
When one of the ladies marveled at the caviar on the salmon canape, I was disappointed that my salmon canape lacked the caviar. One of the wait staff overhead me so she brought out a new one for me! (OK, so the staff got brownie points for this)
A big plus: The scones were top notch! Look how big there were, taking up the entire plate! I picked out the raisins but still thoroughly enjoyed the scone. I’d come back just for their scones! I’m so glad they got the scones right! I have a theory that the secret to a good scone is the size. They have to be just the right size (biscuit size) or else they risk being overbaked and dry.
The desserts were beautiful but two of them had coffee in them which the wait staff did not identify, even when asked. For example, the opera cake is garnished with a coffee bean but the wait staff insisted there was no coffee in it (well, there was coffee in it). 😦
All in all, I had mixed feelings about having afternoon tea here. It’s beautiful and there was an attempt at making the food interesting. However, the setting did not make up for the lack of service, quality of the food, and warm tea. That said, I would come here for afternoon tea over the Hotel del Coronado any day! So if you’re looking for something fancy, and are thinking about the Hotel del, choose the Westgate instead.
Lady K. gifted us with cookies from the Good Stuff Cookie Co., a bakery that specializes in stuffed cookies! Now these, I highly recommend! 😉
Thank you Lady K. for hosting an elegant and lovely tea! Despite my misgivings, it was so nice to get together and see everyone. It really is the company that matters.