We are happily spoiled in the San Francisco Bay Area when it comes to tea, and all the more so because we have three fabulous Samovar Tea Lounges to choose from. Having even one would be a great boon to any town, but three? Wow… Or ‘Yum,’ I’m not sure which.
Although I haven’t tried everything on the Samovar menu, I can recommend some favorites. First, the Tea Soup is a celestial creation. It’s simple, healthy, flavorful, and comes with a half pot of Houjicha green tea (the first half pot is actually poured by the server over the soup bowl which is filled with rice, veggies, wakame, and shitake mushrooms). It’s elegant, healthy, whimsical, and delicious—everything we look for in fine Bay Area cuisine.
I’ve also been sensually hijacked by the Braised Tofu Over Spring Greens, which, like the Tea Soup, stands out for its natural simplicity and vegetarian fabulousness. Covered with a tarragon-balsamic vinaigrette, this salad is a filling but light meal that satisfies even those who seem to need protein every two hours.
The last time I had this, I paired it with the Phoenix Oolong, which is as carefully handcrafted as the sumptuous salad.
Any meal is not complete in my world unless it is followed by something sweet. I have wanted to try something other than the Cherry Oat Scones with Devonshire Cream & Jam, but to no avail. These scones are so delicious, I would have to simultaneously place an order of these to wrap up and take home with me so I might feel it to be a sensible risk to try another sweet. Even still, I would feel a bit like a defector, and my loyalty is always on the side of clotted cream. But this defection has not yet happened because of the following ditty (and a rather pithy protest of sorts):
There is this one last item to mention, more as an appeal than as a recommendation, because, alas, Jesse has taken the Earl Grey Bread Pudding (italics mine, in place of sophomoric exclamation points) off the menu.
Seeing as the internet is socially viral, I’d like to take this opportunity to start a formal petition to get this item back on the printed page and onto our plates as soon as it is humanly possible to do so.
I brought a food and wine editor from Chronicle Books to Samovar a year or so ago just to share this little piece of Nirvana, and after taking just a few bites she asked if I thought Jesse might be interested in a cookbook deal (which he was not, because apparently he was putting all his resources and energy into out-doing himself with the now Chocolate Chip Brioche bread pudding).
Chocolate is fine, but this is a tea lounge, Jesse, and we want the Earl Grey Bread Pudding back, don’t we folks? Fill the S.T.L. e-mailbox with your request to bring this item back: [email protected]. There. Go ahead and do it. Show them the muscle and integrity of your culinary citizenship.
In the meantime, the scones are not a mere consolation prize. You may as well enjoy them for any occasion, short of celebrating the return of the Earl Grey Bread Pudding. They go well with just about any tea….
Jennifer Leigh Sauer for Samovar Life
Jennifer Leigh Sauer, is a freelance photographer, award-winning video journalist, and author based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author of The Way to Tea: Your Adventure Guide to San Francisco Tea Culture (2007). Click here to reach her by email.